Suzuki Swift Sport: Second report

Our road test editor has the biggest smile in town, and it's all down to the fun-focused pocket rocket

How do you spot a Suzuki Swift Sport owner? It’s easy, really – they’ll be the one walking around with a huge grin plastered across their face.

Despite its humble supermini roots, our souped-up Swift is a car that has you laughing out loud when you get behind the wheel, even for a short drive. The blend of agile chassis, beautifully weighted controls and fizzy engine is intoxicating, often encouraging you to seek out the long and winding road home just for fun. It’s not hard to see why our sister website CarBuyer named the Swift top hot hatch of 2012.

Yet what really gets you smirking is the thought that all this fun is costing you so little. It doesn’t matter how many times I do the maths, I simply can’t work out how Suzuki has created such a brilliant hot hatch for only £13,499.

The brand certainly hasn’t stripped the car to the bare bones, because the standard kit list is longer than that of most luxury cars. For instance, it has xenon headlamps, automatic air-conditioning, Bluetooth and keyless entry. Add the same goodies to a MINI Cooper and you’ll be presented with a bill for around £18,000!

Yes, the retro-themed Brit has a more upmarket image and a slightly classier cabin, but the Suzuki hardly feels low-rent. In fact, the more time I spend in the Swift, the more I appreciate the simple and uncomplicated charms of its interior. Some of the plastics look a little cheap, but build quality is first- rate and the straightforward layout is easy to use.

I particularly like the neat iPod integration, which allows you to plug your music player into the centre console-mounted USB socket and scroll through your tunes using the main stereo controls or the steering wheel buttons. You can even stream music wirelessly using Bluetooth, although setting up this function is a little fiddly. Still, the sound quality is good, plus the stereo doesn’t have to work too hard to be heard over the Swift’s engine and tyres on the motorway.

In fact, the Swift is proving to be almost as accomplished on long-distance trips as it is at blasting down tight and twisty back roads. Almost everyone who borrows the Suzuki for a long trip returns full of praise for the car’s hugely supportive seats and low noise levels, while the standard cruise control reduces the strain on your right leg. And while the ride is firm, it’s far from uncomfortable.

There are one or two niggles, though. We’ve previously mentioned the cramped boot and small rear bench, but now it’s the turn of the front seats to come in for criticism. Both the driver and passenger’s chair’s slide and tilt to aid access to the back, but there doesn’t appear to be a memory setting for either, so you have to reset your driving position every time you get back behind the wheel.

And while 34.4mpg is acceptable for a hard-driven hot hatch, it falls some way short of the 42.9mpg claimed by the optimistic trip computer. Finally, I’ve noticed the digital display for the climate control has started to fade a little. It’s still visible, but I’ll get it looked at during the car’s first service, which is now due.

This first 2,000-mile check-up might seem a little soon for a visit to the dealer, but it costs nothing and adds extra peace of mind. It’s just another thoughtful touch that helps keep this Suzuki Swift Sport owner smiling.

Our view

“The Suzuki’s brilliant blend of refinement, comfort and fun make it feel like a mini Golf GTI. However, the VW hot hatch is nowhere near as well equipped as the Swift.”Luke Madden, Web reporter

Your view

“I’m a huge fan of the Swift Sport, but I feel the new model has lost the hard-edged appeal of its predecessor. With its motorsport pedigree and boisterous character, the original is a forgotten gem.” ArtVanderlay49, via www.autoexpress.co.uk

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