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Driven: Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid. Image by Suzuki UK.

Driven: Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid
On the face of it, Suzuki has ruined the Swift Sport by adding hybrid power and yet more expense. But, in reality...

   



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Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid 2021MY

3 3 3 3 3

Good points: still feels quick and alert, and weirdly rather likeable

Not so good: inflated price is really hard to ignore, though

Key Facts

Model tested: Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid
Price: Swift range from 12,999 (including time-limited 2,000 customer saving); Sport from 21,655 (excluding any customer offers), car as tested 21,820
Engine: 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol with 48-volt mild-hybrid system
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door warm hatch hybrid supermini
CO2 emissions: 127g/km (VED Band 111-130: 180 in year one, then 155 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 50.1mpg
Top speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 9.1 seconds
Power: 129hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 235Nm at 2,000rpm
Boot space: 265-579 litres

Our view:

When we drove the third-generation Suzuki Swift Sport at its international launch, we liked it but thought it a touch dear for what it was. Fast forward 12 months to a UK road test of the car in early 2019 and, somewhat incredibly, the list price had increased from its original point. And now, here we are in early 2021, looking at a Swift Sport that's slower, heavier and yet even more expensive than ever. This is going to be a disaster, right?

Umm... no. Actually, it isn't. However, you'll notice another half-a-star has eroded away from the 2021MY Swift Sport's overall rating and that's because we can't avoid the fact that it is now a 20,000-plus car. In fact, our tester was a staggering 21,655 plus another 165 on a dual-colour paintjob, leading to a windscreen sticker of almost 22,000. And we don't care what PCP deals are about to be cited by the manufacturer or any proponents of the Swift Sport, that is - plain and simple - waaaaaaaay too much cash for a 140hp 'warm' hatch.

Except, the 2021MY Suzuki Swift Sport isn't a 140hp warm hatch. It has, in truth, regressed back to 129hp. And also put on some pounds, not only of the fiscal variety: where it was previously a sub-tonne car with a 975kg kerb weight, now it tips the scales at 1,025kg. Hardly a porker in the grand scheme of things, obviously, but when a 50-kilo increase amounts to a five per cent growth in mass, it's somewhat alarming. The results, of both dropping power and increasing bulk, are that the new model's 0-62mph time has suffered, and suffered notably. This one is fully a second slower over the sprint, recording a 9.1-second time compared to the 2018-2020 cars' 8.1-second effort.

So what has happened? Well, Suzuki has added hybrid power. In an effort to get its fleet CO2 emissions down to acceptable levels, various cars in its portfolio are being part-electrified - such as the 12-volt-enabled Ignis Hybrid - while others are being killed off altogether (*removes cap in silent remembrance of the late Jimny Mk4*).

In fairness to the Swift Sport, the system fitted here is a more potent 48-volt set-up than the 12-volt affair on the Ignis, and although it adds the 50kg of weight to the Suzuki hatch it doesn't trim boot space or passenger compartment room to any significant degree. It also boosts the overall torque figure, albeit only by 5Nm to a new peak of 235Nm. But still, when you're talking about a hatchback which is marketed as a performance variant, even if it's not an out-and-out 'hot' model, getting fatter, slower and less attainable are hardly the best headlines to be selling these things in showrooms.

It's not even as if the Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid is much greener either, as CO2 emissions are cut by 8g/km to 127g/km on the petrol-electric car, but the overall economy is slightly worse at 50.1mpg (-0.3mpg). Although as Suzuki claims a six per cent improvement in fuel consumption when going from non-hybrid to Hybrid, we suspect this bare-numbers discrepancy is a result of some NEDC v WLTP reporting farrago. In essence, if the pre-Hybrid SSS did 47.3mpg WLTP, it's not as if fitting the 48-volt system has transformed the Suzuki entirely, is it?

Nevertheless, despite all this mithering, we found ourselves liking the Hybrid model more than we expected. Truth be told, on a back-road thrash or just driving it around in normal daily duties, it's very hard to discern any difference in performance or character between the 140hp/230Nm plain petrol variant and this 129hp/235Nm part-electric evolution. It's still a great little thing to chuck about and has what would have once been called 'willing performance' by the big car magazines. The new K14D Boosterjet is never the most alluring of turbocharged four-pot engines in the vocal department, granted, and it can sound a tad coarse and strained in the upper rev-range, which is conversely where this car does all its best work in terms of speed, but in general it's a pleasant little drivetrain hooked up to a very decent six-speed manual transmission with a great throw across the gate. The steering's good, if not groundbreaking, and the balance of outright body control to overall ride comfort is struck well by the Japanese company. Even the brakes are nice, positive and nicely modulated underfoot.

Furthermore, the Suzuki's economy is only OK, in reality. We did a smidge more than 200 miles in the Swift Sport Hybrid and it turned in 36.2mpg, with a best of 47.4mpg achieved on a gentle pootle about on local A-roads, never exceeding 56mph or accelerating with any real vigour. Maybe a motorway run would've improved the stats more, although we're once again viewing with suspicion the Hybrid's in-cluster display which suggests that eight minutes and ten seconds of idling on the stop-start system during this week on test resulted in 61 miles' worth of fuel savings. That seems disproportionately high for such a small-capacity engine.

The Swift Sport still looks great, though. Those 17-inch alloys, the dual exhausts poking out of the rear bumper, the natty little rear spoiler atop the roof and the Suzuki's cheerful face all add up to a sweet hatchback, an aura which isn't immediately dispelled once you climb aboard. It's both nicely understated and yet suitably enhanced from the cabin of a standard Swift in here, what with its bucket seats, red trim finishes and sporty-looking wheel; admittedly, it's obviously built down to a cost and fitted with a mediocre-at-best infotainment system as well, but we reckon buyers would not be either discouraged from buying a Sport by this passenger compartment in the first place nor disappointed by the cabin ambience if they do decide to take the plunge on the Suzuki.

In summary, we like this car and have always liked this car, but external market forces feel like they are constantly pushing the Suzuki Swift Sport further and further away from greatness. Adding the Hybrid's powertrain to the mix, in the process entirely replacing the old 1.4-litre petrol-only model, is an understandable move on the part of the manufacturer and it's reasonably well-executed when all the reckoning is done. Yet we can't help but come to an unavoidable conclusion that what was already an overpriced and far-from-perfect warm hatch has become yet more expensive still, for no discernible greater reward in terms of either driving thrills nor notably reduced running costs. Therefore, while we continue to have a soft spot for the Sport, we reckon your money might be better off invested elsewhere.

Alternatives:

Honda Jazz e:HEV: not marketed as a performance model like the Swift Sport Hybrid, but its power is broadly in the same ballpark... as is its price. The Honda's interior is smart, though, and its refinement is at another level to the Suzuki's.

Peugeot e-208 GT: if you want a really stylish supermini with a quality cabin and some true eco-credentials, try this pure-electric Frenchie out for size. Mind, you'll pay through the teeth for the e-208, which suggests saving the planet ain't going to be cheap.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid: again, like the Honda (and unlike the Suzuki), this isn't marketed as a performance car but on its TNGA-B chassis and with its much-improved hybrid drivetrain, the new Yaris is a belting car. If expensive. Natch.


Matt Robinson - 2 Feb 2021



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2021 Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2021 Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2021 Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2021 Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2021 Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.

2021 Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2021 Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2021 Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2021 Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2021 Suzuki Swift Sport Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.








 

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