Suzuki's Swift Sport

 

Price £14,000-£14,500

Engine 1,586cc, four cylinders, 136bhp

Transmission Six-speed gearbox, front-wheel drive

Performance 121mph, 0-62 in 8.7sec, 44.1mpg official average, CO2 147g/km

Hot hatchbacks. They are still with us, a fact for which car nuts can be thankful. We're still among the keenest buyers of Renaultsport Clios, Vauxhall Corsa VXRs, Mini Cooper S's and Volkswagen Polo GTIs, which have huge power outputs once considered beyond sanity for small cars. The 200bhp or so of the most extreme examples of the breed doesn't disgrace even fast versions of the next size-class up, such as the Golf GTI.

So what do you do if you favour something brisk, sporting and small but you – or your insurance company – considers such pace more of a good thing than is sensible? What happened to the idea of a rapid but socially domesticated hot hatchback of the sort that was once represented by, say, the 1.6-litre version of the much-enjoyed Peugeot 205 GTI?

Maybe you buy a warmed-over version of a smaller hatchback, nowadays likely to use a little engine with a turbocharger. Step forward the Fiat Abarth 500 and Renaultsport Twingo 133. The former is a fun car spoilt only by its stodgy steering; the latter seems crude and uninspired.

Or you consider a Suzuki Swift Sport, the last remaining representative of the normally aspirated, 1.6-litre, souped-up, "full-size" supermini that once formed the default template in this category. This is no half-hearted marketing makeover lurking in the shadow of a more glamorous version with bigger numbers in its specification sheet, because that more glamorous version doesn't exist.

The Swift breed was thoroughly refreshed a year ago, becoming all new despite styling derived from that of the previous (good-looking) generation, and like its predecessor it's a thoroughly good car that deserves more recognition.

The Sport version of the old Swift was an unusually entertaining drive of the old hot-hatch school, revvy and rorty in its engine, sharp and responsive in its steering and handling. So there should be no need to alter the formula for this new model – and I'm pleased to report that the essence remains intact. The engine is mildly improved to give 136bhp (up from 123), torque gains a similar increase and peaks at a slightly lower engine speed. Official fuel efficiency improves, too, with CO2 output down to 147g/km, largely through the addition of a sixth gear.

One of the great things about the previous Sport was the way it dived into a corner, and the way you could point it in further by coming off the accelerator. So I was worried to hear that Suzuki had made the new one more stable in a straight line at speed. That sounds good, but at what cost to responsiveness?

None, it seems. The new Sport feels a little more planted on the road, but with the slight loss of friskiness comes a gain in precision. You can still "steer on the throttle", while those steering inputs you make by the more usual method of turning the steering wheel are amazingly free of rubberiness and artificiality for an electrically assisted system. It rides over bumps without jarring, is quiet at speed for a car of its type, has a keen edge to its engine note and is nicely finished inside. Even better, the price when sales start in January should be under £14,500.

This is a terrific little car. But those car nuts might argue it could be even better with a turbocharger, to make the most of that fantastic handling and put the Suzuki at the top of the pile alluded to at the start. A turbo engine could lower the CO2 figure, too, and perhaps be offered in, say, 140bhp and 180bhp versions. Could it happen? "It's a good idea," says chief engineer Naoyuki Takeuchi. And I swear I saw a glint in his eye.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleComedian launches stinging attack on PM
Life and Style
The collection displayed Versace’s softer side, with models wearing flowers and chiffon dresses in unusual colourings
fashionVersace haute couture review
News
Andy Murray shakes hands after defeating Andreas Seppi of Italy in the third round of Wimbledon, Saturday 4 July, 2015
Wimbledon
Arts and Entertainment
'The Leaf'
artYes, it's a leaf, but a potentially very expensive one
News
Yoko Ono at the Royal Festival Hall for Double Fantasy Live
people'I wont let him destroy memory of John Lennon or The Beatles'
News
Could Greece leave the EU?
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

    £7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

    Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

    £27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

    Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'