Great ex­pec­ta­tions for sport­ing Suzuki, but does it mea­sure up?

Gareth But­ter­field checks to see whether the new Suzuki Swift Sport has lost any of the magic of its pre­de­ces­sor

Ashbourne News Telegraph - - MOTORING -

THE last Suzuki Swift Sport sur­prised ev­ery­one, and be­came the un­likely dar­ling of the small hot hatch world. It was fun, fast, nim­ble and ex­cit­ing and, more than any­thing, it was cheap.

Less than £14,000 was all it took to get into the pocket rocket ev­ery­one started talk­ing about and it was, jus­ti­fi­ably, a huge hit. But it’s now been re­placed as part of the Swift’s huge makeover and the new ver­sion also comes with the all-im­por­tant Sport badge.

So ex­pec­ta­tions are high. The new Swift is great, a wor­thy suc­ces­sor to the last one which all but re-wrote the small car rule-book. But does the Swift Sport live up the leg­end?

Well, on pa­per, it gets off to a rocky start. The new Swift Sport costs £18,000. It has a tur­bocharged en­gine rather than the old nor­mallyaspi­rated lump and it only has four more bhp to lug around that new five-door bodyshell.

Read a lit­tle more of the spec-sheet, how­ever, and things start to look up. That new turbo en­gine has sig­nif­i­cantly more torque than the out­go­ing Sport en­gine and, al­though it’s sprouted some ex­tra doors, it’s 70kg lighter than the old one.

This, on the road, trans­lates to a lot of fun, ob­vi­ously. It feels quick, light, ag­ile and sporty. It re­ally does feel ev­ery bit as good as the old one. Just in a bit of a dif­fer­ent way.

The big dif­fer­ence, ob­vi­ously, is the en­gine. The tur­bocharger does noth­ing to di­min­ish the fun, as there’s barely any lag and when it’s on-boost the 138bhp is so ac­ces­si­ble and flex­i­ble, you barely no­tice the forced in­duc­tion.

This means you can at­tack ev­ery bend and straight with as much vigour as you like, with­out hav­ing to ac­tu­ally drive along at rac­ing pace. And that was part of the magic of the old Swift Sport. It’s fun at all speeds.

The thing is, in re­al­ity, the Swift Sport isn’t re­ally all that fast. 0-60mph takes eight sec­onds and it’ll run out of puff at just 130mph. But, trust me, with this kind of car that re­ally doesn’t mat­ter.

At com­fort­ably less than 1,000kg and with de­cent brakes, com­mu­nica­tive steer­ing and short-throw gear­box it is an ab­so­lute hoot. Speed, in this in­stance, is not ev­ery­thing. It’s about hav­ing fun. And the Swift Sport still de­liv­ers that in spades.

Faults? There’s a few. the plas­tics in the in­te­rior are a bit cheap and boot space isn’t as good as you might think, given the ex­tra doors. I wish it sounded a lit­tle more dra­matic and I’m not sold on the looks. I thought it would grow on me, but it just hasn’t. Shame.

And it’s pricey. But, that said, £18,000 re­ally is it. You get so much stan­dard kit at the base price you’ll not need to spend any more. And the rear seat space is among the best in class.

Don’t ex­pect bril­liant fuel econ­omy if you drive it how it begs to be driven, but give it to your grand­mother for the day and you might see Suzuki’s claimed 47.1mpg on the dis­play. And 135g/km of CO2 is pretty rea­son­able.

More and more cars are be­ing fit­ted with tur­bocharg­ers these days, in a bid to down­size and save fuel. And it of­ten means a loss of char­ac­ter. But in the Swift Sport, no harm is done.

So it’s still got plenty of the sparkle the old Swift Sport had and it’s def­i­nitely still a bench­mark car. Is it bet­ter than the last one? Well, that rather de­pends on your pref­er­ence and your bud­get.

But I think it is. Just.

On pa­per, it gets off to a rocky start. The new Swift Sport costs £18,000. Gareth But­ter­field

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