Suzuki Swift Sport review (2012 onwards)
What - Suzuki Swift Sport
Where - Hertfordshire
Price - from £13,500
Available - now
Key rivals - Ford Fiesta Zetec S, Renaultsport Twingo, VW Polo GTi
Summary - This is Suzuki's new Swift Sport, back in 2012 with more power, less pollutants and the same big dose of cheap fun
We like - old-school thrills, low running costs, great chassis and steering
We don't like - might be too tame for some people, doesn't look different enough
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Buy a Suzuki Swift Sport on Auto Trader from £1k
If you have a passion for performance but a bank balance that screams student, you can still fulfill your driving thrills and not bankrupt yourself in the process. It comes in the form of the Suzuki Swift Sport and, on a pound-per-pound basis, it offers hot-hatch kicks for supermini money.
Priced from £13,500, it is a lukewarm hatch for those who can't afford to run full fat versions such as the Renaultsport Clio. Think of it as your first step on the hot hatch ladder.
Compared to a fast Clio, the Swift is £3,620 cheaper, but this isn't the stinger. Wait until you try insuring a hot hatch if you're wrinkle free - the Clio sits in group 30 whereas the Suzuki is 18. Fuel costs, too, will make a massive difference to your spending money, with the Swift averaging 44.1mpg and the Clio 34.5mpg.
Of course, something has to give, and the Swift wouldn't see which way a Renaultsport Clio went if you tried tailing one on a country road. However, what the Swift does offer is some of the thrills for less of the bills.
With a 1.6-litre engine upgraded to dish out 136hp and 118 lb/ft of torque (up by 13hp), the Swift doesn't quite live up to its name in terms of outright performance. Sixty two miles-per-hour takes 8.7 seconds which is the sort of pace you'd get from a decent diesel hatchback these days.
But the engine is a willing little thing, and variable valve timing means you feel a noticeable kick as you rev it out in each gear in search of its ultimate performance. The upgrade from a five to a six-speed gearbox makes it feel more willing through the gears, too.
Ride and handling
The engine might lack punch but the chassis more than makes up for its shortcomings. In fact, the Swift Sport takes us back to those glory days of the hot hatch, to cars like the Peugeot 205 GTi, which thrilled with its combination of little power, low weight, a short wheelbase and a playful chassis.
The Swift is also a featherweight weighing only 1,045kg, so it gives 130hp per tonne. A VW Golf GTi only gives 150hp/tonne. This translates into a sporting drive and superb cross-country pace as you can carry more speed into corners.
Firmer suspension and increased spring rate front and rear means the car feels more settled through bends, with the back end less willing to head for the undergrowth should you lift off mid-corner. With a lack of weight and a tuned steering rack, it feels sharp, lithe and agile and a thriller to rag without straying into obscene speeds.
Suzuki has upped the level of kit you get as standard, with the Swift Sport now coming with air con, fog lamps, push button start, cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity. The seats are bolstered too to keep you in place through fast bends but otherwise the interior hardly screams of sporting intent. At least it is finished in a solid-looking piano-black finish even if some of the materials aren't the plushest from the parts bin.
Economy and safety
Electronic stability control will keep you out of the hedges while combined fuel economy of 44.1mpg means your trips to fuel stations should be infrequent. Exhaust emissions of 147g/km are 10% lower than the previous Swift Sport despite the extra power and will mean lower tax bills.
The MSN Cars verdict
The Suzuki Swift Sport is not a hot hatch. But that's not a criticism because it offers old-school thrills, with sensible speeds and low running costs. Instead of chasing ultimate power and performance, more car makers should be following this example of less is more.
Need to know
Engines, petrol 1.6 VVT
Power hp 136
Torque, lb ft 118
0-62 mph, secs 8.7
Top speed, mph 121
Mpg combined 44.1
CO2, g/km 147