On the Road: The new Suzuki Swift Sport
On the Road: The new Suzuki Swift Sport

Ian Lamming has a final fling in the faithful Suzuki Swift Sport

THERE’S a new one on the way, apparently, and it has big shoes to fill.

That’s because the current Suzuki Swift Sport is so good that it is actually one of the best cars I have driven all year – at any price.

It doesn’t really compute that an affordable sporty hatchback can be this good, eclipsing vehicles with more overtly sporting pretensions and price tags ten times that of the Swift.

The problems with exotica are that they are surprisingly big – often overly wide and long – very low, with limited visibility and scarily high costing replacement parts and labour if you bump them. They are also too powerful for anyone but a racing driver and it all amounts to a high degree of stress and anxiety. You can’t even park them without worrying your socks off.

The Suzuki is blessed with all the attributes a keen driver needs and wants to have the maximum amount of fun with the minimum amount of stress. You can drive it anywhere and leave it anywhere without any fears of damage by you or malicious passers-by, which leaves you free to have a blast.

Swift Sport looks slightly different from the rest of the range thanks to an extended nose and sporty carbon fibre lookalike sill extensions. It also has a bold grille and airdam and a big spoiler on the back. The high gloss 17in alloys complete a look that is not conventionally pretty yet is sporty and distinctive. It also has a sheen of quality that gives you confidence in its build.

Inside is nicely hot-hatch with red accents around the cabin and excellent sports seats. Ergonomics are spot on and there is a surprising amount of cabin room for everyone, including rear seats passengers. Conventional clocks, buttons and switches give it a welcome retro feel and remove the stress I associate with too many touchscreen functions. Don’t get me wrong, Swift has all the usual tech but it is presented in a way that doesn’t dominate the pleasurable driving experience.

On-paper performance is modest by current standards but do not be fooled. I knocked 10 minutes off the long school run because Sport is like its name, Swift.

It weighs just over 1,000kg, which is uber-light, and its power output of 128PS is boosted by the hybrid electric set up, providing the instant pickup and extra torque of an EV – and 50+ miles per gallon economy – which makes it remarkably quick off the line, but also very strong in the mid-range and frugal.

The clutch, throttle, brakes and gearbox actions are sublime with just the right amount of weight and feel, making driving a sheer delight.

But where it really scores highly is the handling which is fantastic. Swift is like a roller-skate. It is incredibly taut with magnificent body control. There is no roll at all in the bends but neither is it overly stiff in ride quality. The steering is go-kart sharp and the levels of grip are astounding. The result is a car that can carry a surprising amount of speed through the bends, in complete safety, making it super-quick from A to B and grin-inducing fun to drive.

It leaves you wanting more and looking forward to the next journey which is a rare commodity nowadays in this generation of bland-mobiles.

It also has me looking forward to the next generation of Swift Sports, though whatever they are like you can be assured that this one will remain a firm favourite and become a timeless classic. Perhaps it might be worth buying one now to tuck away in the garage.

Fact File

Suzuki Swift Sport

Engine: 1.4 litre turbo hybrid

Power: 129PS

0-62mph: 9.1secs

Top speed: 130mph

Combined MPG: 50.4

Transmission: six-speed manual

CO2 g/km: 125

Price: £23,500.00