What is it?
A little history.
Before the Sport arrived on the scene, there was the Swift GTi, launched here in 1986.
I know because I had one. One of the first generation GTIs with the ugly square foglights that couldn’t be operated with the headlights.
It might have been visually challenged, but it sure did go and ran on the smell of an oily rag.
So, you can imagine my excitement when Suzuki announced a successor to the GTi, the Swift Sport, in 2006 — I was all ears.
In fact, I remember travelling to Japan for the launch of the car and can clearly recall the sense of disappointment when it became evident that despite the promises — it was powered by a rather staid, 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine.
It was hardly the stuff of dreams.
Thankfully. Suzuki corrected this mistake with the launch of the current generation Sport in 2017, with a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that had more power and torque.
It was a cracker then, a cracker when I last drove the car a couple of years ago, and the the one I tested last week is still a cracker.
What’s it cost?
The first Sport arrived in manual form only, with a price of of $23,990 in 2006.
A CVT style auto joined the lineup in 2012, still with a 1.6, and priced from $25,990.
The current generation was unleashed in 2017, this time with a 1.4-litre turbo and is currently priced from $29,990.
An auto adds $2000, metallic paint $595 or two-tone paintwork $1095, bringing the total price of our test vehicle to more than $33,000.
It’s pause for thought, but as well as being a ball of fun to drive, Swift Sport certainly looks and feels more upmarket this time around — so there’s that to consider.
Standard kit includes cloth trim, single-zone climate air conditioning, keyless entry and start, electric folding mirrors, auto lights and mirror (but not the wipers), rear park sensors, driver info display, 7.0-inch touchscreen with satnav, a reverse camera, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Oh, and they’ve finally added a digital speedo.
Safety encompasses six airbags, electronic stability control and advanced safety stuff such as auto emergency braking, lane departure warning, weaving alert, blind spot alert, rear cross traffic alert, high beam assist and adaptive cruise control.
What’s it go like?
It’s quick off the mark and pulls strongly through the mid-range.
The 1.4-litre turbocharged four produces 103kW of power and 230Nm of torque, the latter between 2500 and 3000 revs.
It’s available with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic (subject of our test), with steering wheel mounted gear change paddles.
The sports seats are a tighter fit than I recall, that or my arse has gotten bigger — either way the bolsters press uncomfortably into my thighs.
They’re manual adjust and trimmed in an attractive combo of cloth, with red stitching and Sport logos.
The dash features some coloured pieces of trim with a carbon-fibre like finish, but reach out and you’ll find it’s all hard plastic.
A flat-bottomed, leather trimmed sports wheel hides two, old-style analogue instrument dials that flank a central information panel.
Cycling through the panel brings up a series of graphics: clock, motion, torque and power, acceleration and braking graphs, and one for turbo boost.
And, most importantly, they’ve finally included a digital speedo. In a car like this it’s a necessity.
It’s push button start, but two years later you still have to be careful putting it into drive. That’s because dragging the transmission lever all the way back engages manual mode.
The result is lots of revving, but the transmission will eventually change up when the the engine hits red line.
Punching the accelerator produces a surprisingly fun, surprisingly engaging response — both tactile and audible.
It’s not lightning quick, but it does make all the right noises and it is sufficient to get the blood pumping.
The dash from 0-100km/h takes a sharpish 7.2 seconds and overtaking can be undertaken at will.
The steering is excellent and the brakes are aggressive, with a ride that is firm but not harsh. We did however manage to find the bump stops a couple of times.
The tyres generate quite a bit of noise on coarse surfaces, but that’s par for the course with small cars where it’s harder to disguise.
Just try making a phone call.
With 17-inch alloys and exey 195/45 Continentals, the Sport sits securely on the road, turns in nicely and has plenty of mid-corner grip.
Push really hard and it will ultimately understeer, with some lift-off oversteer under hard application of the brakes.
The turning circle by the way is crap and tight carparks can be a trial, even in a car this size.
Whether you opt for the auto or manual, fuel consumption is a claimed 6.1L/100km.
We were getting 6.4 from the tiny 37-litre tank after almost 500km (and it takes premium 95 RON unleaded).
The boot looks larger than before, but of course that’s because it doesn’t have to fit a spare — just a puncture repair kit.
Sport comes with a 5 year unlimited kilometre warranty, as well as capped price servicing pegged at 12 months/10,000km intervals.
What we like?
- Fun to drive
- Looks better than ever
- Sharp performance
- Well sorted steering and handling
- Uses hardly any fuel
What we don’t like?
- Satnav not the best
- No speed camera or school zone warnings
- Transmission goes straight into manual mode when you pull back
- Takes premium 95 RON unleaded
- Small boot (it is a small car)
- No spare tyre
The bottom line?
Yes, it’s more expensive than ever, but the Swift Sport is still an engaging drive and the best bang for your buck on the block.
There’s plenty of other “hot hatches” to choose from, but they’ll all cost you more and you’d be making a big mistake if you didn’t take the Swift for a run.
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Suzuki Swift Sport, priced from $29,990 driveaway
Looks - 8/10
Performance - 8/10
Safety - 8/10
Thirst - 8/10
Practicality - 8/10
Comfort - 7.5/10
Tech - 8/10
Value - 8/10