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Sport tag suits new junior hot hatch. Image by James Jenkins.

Sport tag suits new junior hot hatch
The Swift Sport is as good a hot hatch as the Swift is a super-mini.

 



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The hot hatch market is a confusing place for buyers nowadays. A hot hatch is now a 200bhp-plus family hatch with 150mph maximum and a sub-seven-second 0-60mph time. What we used to call a hot hatch is now known as a warm hatch, but these pack 150bhp and equivalent performance. This leaves us with no name for the usurped warm hatch genre; I guess we'll have to call it tepid or something.

This smaller niche contains a gaggle of cars such as the Ford Fiesta Zetec S, Peugeot 207 GT, Nissan Micra SR and others. It is the first rung of the fun-car ladder that offers younger buyers an insight into the thrills of driving without an insurance premium that resembles a phone number. Needless to say, image is important as well. It's into this fray that the new Suzuki Swift Sport enters as something of an unknown quantity.

In terms of heritage, there used to be a GTi Swift, but that was discontinued, in the UK at least, many years ago. For a more recent form guide you need to click on the Ignis in our reviews section. The Suzuki Ignis Sport was a revelation when we tested it two years ago and it remains one of our favourite budget B-road blasters; a true joy to spank along a stretch of sinuous tarmac. Tandem this with the quality of the basic Swift, which blew us away late last year and accordingly went straight to the top of our list of preferred small hatches, and Suzuki would have to make a serious miscalculation for the Swift Sport to be anything other than a great car.

Needless to say, it hasn't; the Swift Sport is indeed a very good car. It looks significantly different to the more humble Swifts too, boasting the appropriate level of visual tweakery. The deep front bumper and spoiler with the integrated fog lamps add a real sense of purpose to the front end. The rear bumper, complete with cheeky twin tail pipes, complements the rear roof spoiler at the back of the car. Combined with the nice spoked alloys, the Sport does a fine job of balancing aggression with subtlety. It will undoubtedly appeal to the target audience.

The interior is, for the most part, carried straight over from the standard Swift, which is no bad thing. There are a few sporting cues present in terms of red stitching on wheel and gear lever surround, but other than that it is only the seats and door trims that further differentiate the cabin. The seats are suitably beefed up and offer decent support but some (i.e. the more 'generously proportioned') felt heavier bolstering would have helped and a bit more lumbar support would be welcome on longer journeys.

Such journeys reveal a slightly frenetic high-speed cruising nature. Such is the short ratio choice within the gearbox that motorway work leaves the revvy little four-pot spinning furiously. It isn't boomy or overly intrusive, but it is evident and will harm fuel economy.

The pay back is on the back roads, the Swift's intended habitat. Here the five closely stacked ratios make much more sense. They work well with the busy 1.6-litre VVT-equipped engine that produces 123bhp, but requires working hard to produce its best work. It spins eagerly though, whipping around to its red-line with alacrity and having a seemingly unburstable nature. Performance figures of 0-60mph in just under nine seconds and a maximum approaching 125mph are very competitive.

The handling is sharp too; the 195-section Goodyear Eagle F1s bestowing the Sport with plenty of grip without overwhelming the chassis and undermining its balance and the all-important fun factor. It turns in sharply (although a little more feel through the wheel would be nice) and once into the corner retains a neutral and composed stance right up to the limit, at which point it begins to understeer safely. The body control over undulating B-roads is notably good.

Turning whilst braking hard (the brakes are very good) or lifting off sharply can provoke the rear into moving around, but in a fun and safe way. The ride has deteriorated when compared to the normal hatch, but not an unreasonable amount given the dynamic trade off. Interestingly, we felt the chassis could handle more power with ease. Perhaps a more focused special is in the offing?

As we hoped, and indeed expected, the Suzuki Swift Sport is a cracking little car. It's great around town, boasts real kerb-side appeal and is a hoot on your favourite roads. We can forgive the compromised motorway manners for the pay off in its more intended roles. It will appeal to a broad spectrum of buyers, young and old, although it is undoubtedly a youth-orientated product and offers really good value for money.

We like it a lot.
2007 Suzuki Swift UK range overview

- Suzuki Swift 1.3 GL 3-door manual: £7,699
- Suzuki Swift 1.5 GLX 3-door manual: £6,699
- Suzuki Swift 1.3 GL 5-door manual: £7,999
- Suzuki Swift 1.5 GLX 5-door manual: £8,999
- Suzuki Swift 1.5 GLX 5-door auto: £9,850
- Suzuki Swift 1.3 DDiS 5-door manual: £9,799
- Suzuki Swift Sport: £11,499

Dave Jenkins - 13 Dec 2006









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2007 Suzuki Swift specifications:
Price: £11,499 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 8.9 seconds
Top speed: 124mph
Combined economy: 39.2mpg
Emissions: 175g/km
Kerb weight: 1105kg

Full technical specifications

2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.

2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.



2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.
 

2007 Suzuki Swift Sport. Image by James Jenkins.
 






 

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