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Do the Suzuki Swift Sport's gadgets make it worth £18k?

TG's SSS is under the equipment microscope. Is it still a bargain?

As you know, Top Gear’s got a Suzuki Swift Sport to live with for a few months. Here’s one of the interesting questions it raises: would you rather have a cheap, simple car, or a more expensive, equipment-laden car?

No, seriously. Not a trick. Not a rhetorical question. Is having loads of toys on board really all it’s cracked up to be, in a fundamentally plain, easy-please-me warm hatch?

The sheer philanthropic quantity of equipment the Swift Sport chucks in your direction for £18k looks ace in the brochure, but I’m not convinced. Exhibit A: the radar-adaptive cruise control. It’s a primitive system, startled by cars moving into my lane ahead, braking hard then surging uncomfortably when the idea is to, well, cruise. As a result, I barely use it. The throttle pedal is already lighter than stepping on a helium-filled marshmallow, so it’s not as if ankle-ache is a worry on a long journey.

I’d bin it off, as I have the anti lane-departure assistant, which is over-keen to grab the steering wheel and makes motorway trekking – and slicing a B-road – tiresome. That’s been switched off since week one. The autonomous emergency braking would’ve been too, if it didn’t default back ‘on’ with the ignition. Everyone who’s borrowed the SSS has commented how over-zealous its shrieking alerts are. BEEP-BEEP-BEEP. It’s like driving along next to Gordon Ramsay operating a microwave. City commuting is made more frenetic and frustrating by these beeping amateurishly calibrated ‘assists’. That’s the last thing you need when you live in London.

I’d tolerate the lot, and their shrill BEEPS, if they bagged the Sport a paltry insurance group. But because that lightweight, high-tensile steel bodyshell is deemed expensive to repair, the SSS is group 35 – seven groups higher than a Fiesta ST. Which has another 60bhp. Every year, come insurance renewal time, that’s really going to bite.

So, back to that price. £18k is a hefty number, but the more relevant finance deals are around £230 a month. Ten minutes of Googling found me a Fiesta ST or even a Mini Cooper S for within a fiver of that – with more poke, a tighter chassis, and infotainment screens that wouldn’t stress-test the patience of that bomb disposal chap from the Bodyguard finale.

Basically, since Suzuki doesn’t have the budget to make its driver assists and gadgets as polished as Audi’s, or even Ford’s, I wish it had fewer bits of electro-garnish.

And then, it could maybe cost £4k less. Just like the old, bargain-basement, simple Swift Sport. Or am I just old-fashioned?

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