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Suzuki Swift Sport SZ-R

The limited-edition Suzuki Swift Sport SZ-R adds a dose of exclusivity to the fun hatchback

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The Suzuki Swift Sport is our favourite warm hatchback, and it remains impressively good fun to drive, even at modest speeds. It’s still well equipped and decent value for money, too. Even though the only changes here are cosmetic, the SZ-R’s tweaked looks freshen up the car’s design. Also, the limited production run ensures that buyers looking for something different will get value for the extra £500 they’re spending.

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With its upright windscreen, slim pillars and wheel-at-each-corner stance, the Suzuki Swift has always borne a close resemblance to the MINI. But it has never been offered with the wide range of personalisation options that really sets the British-built retro hatch apart.

In a bid to make up for that, Suzuki has introduced a run of 100 Swift Sport SZ-Rs, priced at £14,249, which is £500 more than the standard Sport.

Each is painted Cosmic Black, with the roof, spoiler and mirrors finished in contrasting Ablaze Red. And while it’s clearly been inspired by the MINI, the two-tone paint freshens up the Swift. The finish is great, too, with a sharp, smooth line where the two colours meet.

Otherwise, the SZ-R gets the same 17-inch alloys, slightly more aggressive front bumper and rear diffuser that set the standard Sport apart from the rest of the Swift range.

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Swing open the front door and you’ll find a numbered badge on the sill, but the only other tweaks to the standard car’s interior are red stitching on the floor mats and a different gearknob.

In other respects, the SZ-R is exactly the same as the Sport. So you still sit on, rather than in, the sports seats, giving a high driving position. However, visibility out of the panoramic windscreen is very good, and you can bring the steering wheel up close to your chest, which adds to the racy feel.

As it’s more of a warm than hot hatchback, the Sport doesn’t get a turbo for its 134bhp, 1.6-litre engine – but that means power delivery is linear and the throttle response is crisp. There’s a nice throaty exhaust note as well.

The pedals are light and well suited to heel-and-toe shifting when driving enthusiastically. A slick shift action and narrow gate make the six-speed box ideal for quick changes, while precise, well weighted steering also boosts driving enjoyment, even at modest speeds.

The Swift’s damping is also worth a mention. It rides on pretty large wheels for such a small car, and firmer dampers than the standard Swift give a firm ride, but it soaks up bumps well. This improves control when driving fast – ridges or potholes don’t throw you off the line.

While a wide range of optional extras has always been a MINI strong point, the Swift SZ-R is very well equipped from the start, with air-con, high-intensity lights, Bluetooth, a USB connection and cruise control fitted as standard.

And although the SZ-R doesn’t boost performance, exclusivity and improved looks make it worth the additional £500.

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