Saturday 22nd February 2020
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Driven: Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by Suzuki UK.

Driven: Suzuki Swift Sport
It’s still the price that holds the Suzuki Swift Sport Mk3 back from warm hatch greatness…

 



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Suzuki Swift Sport

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Good points: great looks, decent interior, generous equipment list, perky performance, good handling, surprisingly refined and capable on the motorway

Not so good: it's just too much money, engine sounds drab

Key Facts

Model tested: Suzuki Swift Sport
Price: Swift range from £12,499; Swift Sport as tested £18,499, £17,499 with ongoing £1,000 customer discount (see copy)
Engine: 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 135g/km (VED Band 131-150: £210 in year one, then £145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 50.4mpg
Top speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 8.1 seconds
Power: 140hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 230Nm at 2,500-3,500rpm
Boot space: 265-579 litres

Our view:

There was an audible gasp around the room; almost too overplayed, comedic in its sheer extravagance. But it was a genuine response of collective shock and bafflement. Suzuki UK's wonderful PR team, in presenting the latest Swift Sport at its international launch back in early '18, had just announced its UK price: 18 grand. Well, £17,999, to be accurate, but £1 in your pocket from 18 large would hardly be any comfort.

It was, plain and simple, way too much moolah for what the car was. Suzuki UK, apparently forced into such bold pricing due to the strength of the yen in relation to the pound in the wake of Brexit, could not price the Swift Sport any lower than that. Which quickly proved to be not strictly true. Early orders of the Suzuki were permitted at £16,499, as a limited-time deal. Indeed, while we had this Swift Sport on loan, Suzuki UK was doing another promotion of a £1,000 customer saving - off a list price that had crept up even further in the interim, to £18,499! And, at the time of writing, that £1,000 offer, supposed to have concluded on March 31st, seemed to still be in play on the company's online configurator...

The long and short of this lengthy and waffling intro is that the Swift Sport is treading a remarkably fine line when it comes to market positioning. At £15,000, we'd be eulogising about this as one of the greatest automotive creations of the 21st century. At £16,000, it would be a solid four-star car. At £18,000, it's struggling to make 3.5 stars, to be honest; although it's not quite as overpriced as the similarly tepid Vauxhall Corsa GSi (which we'll be bringing you a full review on soon). But it is on such tiny pricing margins that a car like the Swift Sport lives or dies.

Mind, there's no doubting the Swift Sport is an entertaining little machine. Clocking 975hp and having a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine with 230Nm of torque is enough to light anyone's fire, and now that we've had nearly 440 miles and ten hours at the wheel of the Champion Yellow (well, it can't really be ANY colour but this, can it?) Suzuki, we definitely approve of the way it drives. Furthermore, the example we had in the UK didn't exhibit the graunchy, rumbling gearbox noise we experienced on the launch car in Spain - it occurred when you came off the throttle at high revs in third over on the continent but there were no such histrionics from this UK version, so maybe it was just a quirk of the earliest examples of the Sport.

Nope, all the exciting handling and vibrant performance of the Swift is preserved over here in Blighty. It grips keenly and will move around, ever so slightly, on the throttle if you want it to, while it's good enough and refined enough in regular driving to make it a more-than-bearable daily runner. Chuntering up and down the motorways, it returned around 48mpg on the long trek back from Heathrow Airport and it turned in a most respectable weekly average of 43.5mpg as a result. It feels properly quick, as well, given there's so little weight for that 1.4 to have to punt around, although the soundtrack the Swift serves up is anodyne by today's standards - rivals with triples, for instance, have far nicer voices than the Suzuki's gruff singing.

There's little doubt that, technically speaking, Suzuki is executing the warm hatch formula better than almost anyone else out there at the moment; there are some notable misses in this department, too, including the questionable Toyota Yaris GR Sport. But the key to how the Swift Sport will be regarded in years to come - as a classic of its time or a missed opportunity - will all boil down to how Suzuki UK continues to price it during its lifespan; at the moment, it's simply way too close for cash to the almighty Ford Fiesta ST, a genuine hot hatch of coruscating brilliance. Knock another £500 or grand off the Suzuki, though, and things would change for the better. Gasps of appreciation or gasps of incredulity; it's a tightrope the Swift Sport Mk3 clearly must walk.

Alternatives:

Ford Fiesta ST-Line: pick the 140hp EcoBoost triple and the sporty ST-Line trim for a cut-price ST (of sorts) from the Blue Oval.

Honda Jazz 1.5 Sport: what a juxtaposed combination of words, eh? The Jazz Sport is unassuming and torque-light, but surprisingly great to drive.

Volkswagen up! GTI: technically a smaller car to begin with than the supermini Swift, VW's titchy tearaway is winning plaudits... because it is priced so keenly.


Matt Robinson - 23 Jan 2019









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2019 Suzuki Swift Sport UK. Image by Suzuki UK.2019 Suzuki Swift Sport UK. Image by Suzuki UK.2019 Suzuki Swift Sport UK. Image by Suzuki UK.2019 Suzuki Swift Sport UK. Image by Suzuki UK.2019 Suzuki Swift Sport UK. Image by Suzuki UK.

2019 Suzuki Swift Sport UK. Image by Suzuki UK.2019 Suzuki Swift Sport UK. Image by Suzuki UK.2019 Suzuki Swift Sport UK. Image by Suzuki UK.2019 Suzuki Swift Sport UK. Image by Suzuki UK.2019 Suzuki Swift Sport UK. Image by Suzuki UK.








 

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