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Lat­est on Suzuki Swift Sport and Citroen C3 Air­cross

Auto Express - - Contents - Alex_in­gram@den­nis.co.uk @Axle­in­gram Alex In­gram

A RE­CENT study stated that it takes a third of em­ploy­ers just 90 sec­onds to de­cide whether or not they’ll of­fer a can­di­date a job at an in­ter­view. I couldn’t find any spe­cific re­search into whether the first im­pres­sions of a bright yel­low Ja­panese hot hatch are as vi­tal, but I’m sure the prin­ci­ples are much the same.

This is our new Suzuki Swift Sport, and I’ll be run­ning it for the next few months. So has my first en­counter left me with the de­sire to hire, or will I be show­ing the sporty su­per­mini the door?

Well, if its looks are equiv­a­lent to a well-crafted cover note, it’s al­ready got my at­ten­tion. A sub­tle bodykit, 17-inch al­loy wheels and the retina-burn­ing paintjob help an al­ready-hand­some car to stand out in a class where style means al­most as much as sub­stance.

In­side, the im­pres­sions are more mixed. You’re greeted by a pair of body-hug­ging sports seats which, lovely

Per­for­mance 0-62mph/top speed 8.1 sec­onds/130mph

though they feel, are mounted too high. The steer­ing wheel is nice enough to look at and to hold, but I’d like it to move slightly closer to­wards me.

In terms of de­sign, the dash­board seems a gen­er­a­tion be­hind other su­per­mi­nis, and thanks to the hard, un­for­giv­ing plas­tic used, it feels it as well. The in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is poor, too: it looks like a cheap af­ter­mar­ket job and is about as en­joy­able to op­er­ate.

At five foot seven inches, I rarely make the most of a car’s head­room, but there’s plenty if you need it. Boot space is no match for a Volk­swa­gen Polo’s, at 265 litres, but then the Suzuki is 13cm shorter.

The most im­por­tant part of the in­ter­view process, how­ever, comes in the drive. As with the looks, first im­pres­sions are pos­i­tive; the steer­ing feels well weighted and pre­cise, the ped­als are well po­si­tioned for heel-and-toe down­shifts, and the

Run­ning costs 43.1mpg (on test) £48 fill-up/£140 or 26% tax

gear­box, al­though not as snappy as it could be, is pos­i­tive.

The Swift’s CV in­cludes a re­cent road test against the Volk­swa­gen up! GTI and Ford Fi­esta St-line (Is­sue 1,527), where the Suzuki re­ally held its own. Sure, it should feel more play­ful on the limit and it needs a fruitier ex­haust, but our new hot hatch is oth­er­wise very ac­com­plished.

How­ever, there are one or two quirks that are be­gin­ning to grate al­ready. The over-re­ac­tive au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing sys­tem meant I quickly switched it off, but it turns back on again ev­ery time you restart the car.

Then there are the brakes: while they’re ab­so­lutely fine on the open road, they squeal loudly when I come to a gen­tle halt. You know, the sort of stop you do count­less times dur­ing a slow-mov­ing com­mute into the cen­tre of town. My drive to work, in other words. Mar­vel­lous.

THE un­writ­ten law that punc­tures only hap­pen at in­con­ve­nient times was proven yet again re­cently on our Ssangy­ong Rex­ton.

Prod­ucts edi­tor Kim Adams was due to set off early the next morn­ing for a five-day race and track day trip to Spa and Zolder in Bel­gium, but the TPMS alert sounded as he went to re­fuel. A quick in­spec­tion showed a screw had punc­tured the SUV’S tread.

For­tu­nately, the Rex­ton has a full-size spare, de­spite car­ry­ing a com­pres­sor and sealant in the boot. The spare is un­der the car, but the tools to lower it were con­fus­ingly found in a cloth bag marked ‘Tow­ing Kit’. With the wheel even­tu­ally low­ered, the next prob­lem was drag­ging the hefty spare from un­der the car. Kim had to lie on the ground to re­lease the re­tain­ing cable. He used a trol­ley jack be­cause he was at home, but the wheel nut wouldn’t yield to an im­pact wrench and needed a long ratchet.

It took more than an hour in all to change the wheel; this was def­i­nitely not a job you’d want to tackle at the road­side.

In­te­rior Hard plas­tics are used in­side, while the in­fo­tain­ment touch­screen isn’t es­pe­cially slick

Tyre blow Rex­ton has a full-size spare, but when Kim suf­fered a punc­ture, get­ting to it was tricky

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