Suzuki Swift Sport
'A pocket rocket that's too pricey for boy racers '
Engine capacity: 1.6 litres
Power output (hp @ rpm): 136 @ 6,900
Max torque (Nm @ rpm): 160 @ 4,400
Top speed (mph): 121
0-62 mph (seconds): 8.7
Fuel economy (mpg): 44.1
CO2 emissions (g/km): 147
Hot hatches have become expensive. Gone are the days when you could pick up a turbo-charged version of a forecourt favourite such as the Renault Clio for a little more than the price of the basic family model and a souped-up Vauxhall Nova just won't cut the mustard at the Saturday night boy-racer meeting at your local Tesco car park any more.
Thankfully, though, for the more mature driver who wants a bit of punt with their practicality, there's the new Swift Sport from Suzuki. Available as a three-door version of the more sedate standard Swift – a favourite with cash and insurance-group conscious young drivers – it boasts up-rated suspension and a nippy 136bhp 1.6 litre engine.
Compared to many of its rivals, the Swift Sport doesn't have buckets of power, but its 8.7 seconds 0-62mph time and top speed of 121mph are more than enough to worry the nation's insurance adjusters and put the Swift Sport out of reach for most of Britain's young boy and girl racers. For the rest of us, it's a little pocket rocket which, though bristling in the bends, is refined enough in town, returning improved fuel and emissions figures compared to the old model it replaces.
What's not to like then? It's cheaper than its bigger rival, the Twingo Renault Sport, only a little slower, greener and a joy to throw around. What is more, unlike the Twingo (reviewed here last year: ind.pn/Twingo) and other rivals, its ride isn't so brutal to make it almost unbearable on all but the smoothest roads. True, its gruff little engine note is never quite satisfying enough and the steering isn't exactly fit for a track day, but there's plenty of punt to throw at corners and just enough understeer for some bursts of B-road fun. While its not as comfortable on the motorway as some hot hatches – its more like sitting in a tin can on a tuna chunks production line in overdrive – it is still refined enough for everyday use.
Outside it's stylish and the added sports body kit is firm enough, but it's let down by a rather drab interior. Yes, there is some sporty red stitching, a leather steering wheel, funky dials and front sports seats, but there's still plenty of cheap, hard plastic that feels more budget super mini than king of the road. It is, however, packed with more kit than many rivals, including cruise control, Bluetooth, an easy-to-use USB connection for your iPod, air conditioning and electric mirrors.
Looking beyond its immediate strengths and weaknesses, though, the Swift Sport still feels a little lost. Is it a fully-fledged hot hatch or a runaround with a bit of poke? It never quite compromises practicality enough for performance and that will disappoint some. And with the standard Swift available until the end of March on a VAT free offer for a little as £8,888, it seems like an extravagant choice. Put in that perspective – and I really loved pushing the Swift Sport around – I'm just not sure if it's worth another £4k for car-park bragging rights.
The Competition: The Swift Sport's biggest rival is the Renault Sport Twingo, which has more style but less kit for much the same price. It's also worth considering a second-hand Ford Fiesta Zetec S – which is warm rather than hot – but will leave you with more change from your £14k.
Life & Style blogs
Who is Teresa Fidalgo? Debunking the fake ghost story that's got Instagram spooked
Google taken to court by ex-banker to remove defamatory material
Regin: Newly uncovered malicious software snooping since 2008 'was developed by a nation state'
Kim Kardashian recreates iconic Jean-Paul Goude naked 'Champagne Incident' photo
Henri de Toulouse Lautrec: Google celebrates 150th anniversary of French artist's birth
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Green Party Caroline Lucas interview: 'We could be on the edge of something very big'
- 1 Lego letter from the 1970s still offers a powerful message to parents 40 years later
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...
Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...
£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...