Our Rating

4.5/5

2018 Suzuki Swift Sport review

The spriteliest Suzuki offering is back in an all-new shell and – for the first time – with a turbocharged engine. But how does it drive?

Introduction

Since 2005, the Suzuki Swift Sport has been a cheap alternative to the more mainstream hot hatchbacks thanks to its lightweight structure and fun driving setup.

Following on from the introduction of Swift last year, Suzuki has now taken the covers off the latest Sport model, which comes with a turbocharged engine for the first time.

Weighing just under tonne, the Swift Sport also comes with a sharper exterior design compared to the standard model – with the most anticipated addition a model-first turbocharged engine.

But with the recently-released Volkswagen Up! GTI now on the market, can the Swift Sport maintain its position in the ‘warm’ hatch market? We find out…

Performance

The Swift Sports of old were always fitted with 1.6-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol engines that gave it a specific character. Those days are now gone, and under the bonnet now lies a 1.4-litre, turbocharged petrol engine normally found in the larger Vitara S crossover.

For the Swift Sport, that unit produces 138bhp and 230Nm of torque to help get the featherweight model from 0-60mph in 8.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 130mph. Although it may not be as invigorating or as characterful as the old Swift Sport engine, it is effective at all points of the rev range – with the model we tested paired to a positive-changing six-speed manual.

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Ride & Handling

Even without the overall fizz the engine provided before, the outlay of the Swift Sport still allows you to have an awful lot of fun. With the short wheelbase, lightweight structure and steering that is a little on the light side, this car can be placed easily and the Sport feels very direct. You can bring in some understeer if you push that bit more, too, meaning it stays as fun as previous models.

Thanks to its solid city car base, the Sport feels easy to manoeuvre around the urban environment, and unlike its predecessors, this version of the Swift Sport feels much suppler and copes with the lumps and bumps found on British roads well.

Interior & Equipment

Much like the exterior design – which is much sportier than the standard Swift – the interior carries that character as well, thanks to the traditional red-trimmed panels, bucket sports seats and thin, flat-bottomed sport steering wheel, all of which are a great improvement over the standard Swift.

Despite how the diminutive dimensions look from the outside, you still get a lot of space for storage on the inside and slots into the top-end of the supermini market. With the rear seats in their standard position, you get 265 litres of boot space, while you will find 579 litres with the rear bench folded flat.

Equipment-wise, the Swift Sport is one of the best equipped in its segment as you get air conditioning, a leather-trimmed sport steering wheel, LED daytime running lights, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation and smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth and 17-inch alloy wheels – all as standard.

Safety systems are also plentiful, as you get adaptive cruise control, hill hold assist, lane departure warning, high beam assist, advanced forward detection assist and a reversing parking camera – a much better offering than its market rivals.

Cost

This is the new Swift Sport’s sticking point, as unlike the previous model that was priced around £15,000, the new version costs £17,999 – pushing it closer to vehicles formerly seen as out of the model’s segment, such as the Ford Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Polo GTI.

The Swift Sport is quite efficient at a quoted 47.1mpg and emissions sitting at 125g/km CO2, meaning the car will be cheap to run and tax.

Verdict

If you want a performance hatchback that offers plenty of fun, is not as mainstream as some of its rivals and comes with plenty of equipment, the Swift Sport should be high on your list of options. The starting price is a bit higher than we would have liked, as it now puts the Sport in the same bracket as the Ford Fiesta ST and VW Polo GTI – but the Sport still has plenty of great perks to make it a great hot hatch to own. If you’re an owner of one of the previous generations, you will find this model just as fun as ever.

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