Suzuki Swift 1.4 Boosterjet 48V Hybrid Sport 5dr
Time for the Swift to win back some kudos, because it remains an agile little thing to drive. And so it should – Suzuki invested an almost disproportionate amount of time and money in a new lightweight platform to underpin the Swift which means it weighs 900kg in its base form – basically on par with an Elise – or around a tonne as a Swift 4x4 or Swift Sport. And the mild hybrid tech is so mild it only adds 6.2kg.
As is now regular in a cheap, accessible hatchback, the steering is light and a bit lacking in feel. But it’s quick and urgent and allied to a sharp chassis. There’s a distinct lack of understeer, well-managed body roll and a real eagerness to flick-flack through direction changes. That speaks of purposefulness that’s at odds with the Swift’s cutesy face. This is a well-engineered device.
It’s just not, as it says on the tin, a swift device. It used to be, but the hybrid-centric facelift has robbed it of some nous. Dropping the peak horsepower figure into double figures ensures the highly talented handling is never really troubled too much.
The 82bhp stock Swift must rank as one of the slowest-accelerating cars currently on sale – especially if you’ve added the 4x4 system’s weight. Think twice before edging out into an uphill overtaking lane. Drop at least two of its five-speed manual’s gears if you are going for it. If you’re never in much of a hurry, however, there’s plenty to like.
The previous two Sports were zingy little cars that cost less than £15k and clung onto naturally aspirated engines longer than any other hot hatch on sale. Their inevitably turbocharged successor – which landed in 2018 – softened the edges and bulked the price out to £18k, maturing the Swift Sport name in the process.
Well, adding a smidge of electric power to proceedings has only exacerbated that. This is a car that now tops £20k and has less power than the two Sports before it. With that smart chassis beneath it still handles with neatness and precision, there’s just less verve baked into it all. While lightweight performance cars ought not to be defined by their spec sheet, a 130mph top speed and 9.1sec 0-62mph time give you a good measure of where the Sport now sits in the world.
The Swift Sport is a great starter for ten when it comes to quick driving. It’s accessible, there’s no bite or snarl to the car, but it’s the difference between Arcade and Simulation mode. Better to seek out a second-hand one – or find the surprisingly small amount of extra cash needed for a Fiesta ST – if it’s outright fun you seek.
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