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The Top Gear car review:Suzuki Swift Sport
For:Classic junior hot hatch drive for a bargain price
Against:Some will still yearn for more power
1.6 Sport 3dr
Finally, a reason to buy a Swift during the winter months. But do us a favour, Suzuki, and fit a bigger engine
Is this the new hot hatch of choice? Sam Philip investigates…
Not a car likely to impress snobby mates, but an honest and enjoyable one at a good price
Exactly what a small hot hatch should be – fun to drive fast, well-built, and good value. A winner.
What we say:
Can you spot the difference? Us neither. But who cares: the latest Swift Sport is better than ever
What is it?
The second iteration of one of TopGear’s favourite budget hatches has got its first full makeover since 2006. Don’t be misled by the familiar looks, for this really is a new car. This time round, Suzuki has given it more power but also managed to keep the weight down, to just 1,045kg. This is hundreds of kilos less than comparable superminis, which is what makes the Swift Sport such a thriller.
Suzuki has given the chassis an extensive engineering overhaul, subtly beefed up the styling and mated the high-revving 1.6-litre engine to a Sport-specific six-speed gearbox. It has all the ingredients of a genuine cracker.
The Swift Sport lives up to its considerable promise on the road. The standard Swift already handles really well and, with far-reaching changes for the keenly developed suspension, the Sport is even better. It drives brilliantly, with bags of composure, and actually harks back to classic hot hatches of old with its tenacity and clean dynamic interaction. It’s faithful enough to let you use every last drop of performance in delightful confidence (and is backed up by standard ESP, something hot hatches of old sure didn’t have).
The 1.6-litre engine is derived from the old one but now gets variable intake valve timing. This brings more power and an even revvier nature, with peak power of 136bhp coming in at a screaming 7,000rpm. Torque is up too though, and the engine speed it comes in at is lowered. Combined with the new super-snickety six-speed gearbox, it’s now even easier to drive the nuts off the hot Swift.
On the inside
The interior is just right, with a fine set of seats and a tactile steering wheel ensuring the must-haves box is firmly ticked. It’s well equipped too, even coming with xenon headlights as standard, while the extra refinement of the new Swift means this one is quieter and less tiring than the old one on a run. Despite the sprightly handling, it even rides with decent composure.
Last year’s new five-door was welcome and both rear and boot are big enough to pass muster.
The Swift Sport costs just £13,749. For a car that’s this much fun, with this much equipment, that’s a bargain. However, Suzuki has weaved in many more benefits besides. This one is more economical than before, averaging 44.1mpg (another benefit of its lightweight build), while a 10 per cent lower CO2 rating of 147g/km brings tax bonuses too. The only gripe for owners are short 9,000- mile service intervals. Everyone else can stretch them longer, Suzuki: why can’t you?