Friday, 4 January 2013

REVIEW - Suzuki Swift Sport

I reviewed the Suzuki Swift not long back, and said that the only improvements I could see would be to add a bit of sportiness into the car and add that last bit of something that was missing. Thankfully such a car exists; the Swift Sport. I jumped at the chance to test one, and upon a closer examination my findings were shocking. I think I may have found a perfect car...

Looks - 10/10

When I reviewed the Suzuki Swift, I said the only thing missing from the looks was a bit of a sporty edge. Well the Swift Sport certainly answers that. On the outside you get a nice bodykit all around, a spoiler at the back, some big 17" wheels and some twin exhausts surrounded by a diffuser at the back. There are also tinted windows and a red 'sport' badge at the back. One thing's for sure; the Swift Sport looks the business. My test car was finished in a stunning white, but also looks great in any of the other colours available (think back to the SMMT Test Day Swift Sport which was finished in a cracking blue).

On the inside you get sporty, body-hugging seats and red stitching everywhere. The interior on the new Swift is a real winner, because this let the car down in the past. The whole thing feels well made and the materials are nice. The push start button is a nice touch, and the steering wheel controls are well laid out. The centre console is high quality and this car certainly matches the competition in terms of looks and quality inside and out. Suzuki really got the design of the Swift Sport perfectly right, and I can't think of any cosmetic changes that would be for the better.

An easily scored 10 for the Swift Sport here, the key to which is the capturing of the word 'Sport' and applying that theme to the whole car.

Handling/Performance - 10/10

The engine under the bonnet of the Swift Sport is a 1.6-litre VVT petrol engine. Its a rather pokey one too, developing 136PS and 160Nm of torque. This is enough to propel the Swift Sport from 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 121mph. But those are just the figures, how does it feel from behind the wheel?

Well that's simple really; utterly brilliant. I think the real winner is the 6-speed gearbox that few rivals offer. Coupled to the VVT engine this makes for a great performance package. The VVT engine loves to be revved, but also needs to be in the higher revs to get its power down. This is why the 6-speed box really works, because it allows you to work the engine and stay in the power band, meaning that you can always have a bit of oomph at the touch of your right foot. The car goes from being incredibly nippy on the A roads, to being a 6th gear motorway cruiser, with cruise control as a bonus too.

The handling then? Well if anything this is the Swift Sport's party piece. The performance is good but it isn't mind-blowing. That's where the handling steps up. This thing goes round corners like its superglued on rails. On those A-roads there's enough power to mean you're going fast enough and the handling makes you get round the corners with a smile on your face. The steering is nicely weighted and you get a good feeling of what the front wheels are doing at any given moment; you almost know they are about to lose traction before they actually do. You get a great sense of the capabilities of this car early on, and develop a sort of 'sixth sense' of exactly what speed to chuck it into the corners at.

Economy - 10/10

With any sporty hatchback, there's normally a drawback. More often than not this comes to you at the fuel pumps. But not with the Swift Sport. Yes, it may not be a million-mile-to-the-gallon, zero-emission tree-hugger, but it's no guzzler either. Emissions are 147g/km CO2, putting the Swift Sport in VED band F. Road tax will cost you £135 for the year, and that isn't half bad for a car that offers this level of performance and fun. This on its own wouldn't score a 10 for economy, but the fuel consumption is what does it. Combined consumption is quoted as 44.1mpg, which for a 1.6-litre petrol engine is very good. However that's not the end of the story, because if you drive this car carefully you can achieve more towards the 50mpg mark. At this point the emissions become less relevant because it is the fuel economy which will make this car so easy to live with, and that's why the Swift Sport gets a perfect 10.

Practicality -10/10

This section is where I have the only gripe for the Swift Sport. It only seats four people.  Now for some that will create a problem. However I must say that the Swift Sport will seat four ADULTS. Comfortably. For me that's a positive thing, and having four seats wouldn't affect me adversely whatsoever. There is a reasonable boot (let's be honest you'd hardly want to fit a dining table in there anyway!) and the cabin has plenty of room all around. To live with the Swift Sport was brilliant. There is great visibility and the car is easy to manoeuvre. On long drives it is comfortable and quiet, and you can fit the shopping in the boot. All in all a great car that leaves you wanting for nothing... unless you have three kids and will have to choose which one to leave at home.

Fun - 10/10

Now if there's one thing a small, sporty hatchback should have then that would be the fun factor. Thankfully the Swift Sport has more than enough charm and never fails to put a smile on your face. I remember deliberately going around mini roundabouts several times just in awe of the grip levels; you would pass out from the dizziness long before the tyres let go of the tarmac. Even in the wet this thing would mean your spirits were never dampened, and for all this fun the Swift Sport will always have a soft spot in my heart. I'd happily own one of these cars, and would probably never bore of it. It's one of a rare breed that I often talk about here; a car that makes you want to go on a drive for no reason other than the heck of it. A car that makes you take the twistier scenic route because that will provide the greatest thrill. And best of all, a car that will please the enthusiastic driver when he is on his own, but also will make a sensible family car when he has passengers.

Concluding Remarks

So there you have it. The first perfect scoring car on Simply Motor. It is no easy thing to earn a 50/50 and so that shows what a great little car the Swift Sport really is. At less than £14,000 it's a bargain for what you get, and the only possible shortcoming of this car is the 4-person capacity. However, that will either matter to you or it won't. To me it didn't and so to me the Swift Sport really ticked every single box. In these times where getting the most possible while spending as little possible is a key factor, this really is a car that will impress. I really would suggest going out and testing a Swift Sport; or even a regular Swift if you don't need the performance, because I bet you will be pleasantly surprised.

Total Score - 50/50 


  1. Have one. 10 on 10 says it all.

    1. You're not wrong there! I know when I'm looking for a new car in a couple of years it will definitely be a consideration!


  2. Would agree with all of the above, except 10/10 for economy? The Sport has pretty poor economy for its performance (trip computer overreads by about 15-20%) expect 30ish around town and low forties at best on mway. And the emissions aren't great compared to newer faster hatches. Also, the tyres are a slightly nonstandard size which will be more expensive that the more standard 205/40/17's. Yes, you can swap to those but most owners won't.

    Don't get me wrong, I think this is a fantastic car and have ordered one but with the exception of insurance the running costs are right up there with the 200bhp hatches and buyers should probably be aware of that :)

    1. Thanks for reading the review and I hope you found it somewhat useful. I understand the point about the tyre sizes; having had a non-standard tyre size previously. Although I found that the tyre cost only varied more towards the budget end, once you get to the proper rubber prices are less varied.

      I think the reason behind the economy scoring 10/10 is simply a view taken in perspective. Yes emissions are high (The recent review of the Ford Fiesta ST shows CO2 of 138g/km) but then again The swift is sub-£14,000. So a tenner a year on road tax doesn't matter. When it comes to fuel economy I am not convinced the computer misreads. Even if it does though, this would apply to all cars, so the Fiesta which was showing around 40mpg on test would have also been doing less. I could better the quoted figures in everyday driving in the swift- hitting over 50mpg on certain journeys.

      I guess it just all depends how you drive it. And the biggest difference between the swift and the turbo'd 200's is that when you do drive a bit harder, the drop in economy with the latter is more severe.

      Let me know how you get on with yours once you have it.


  3. Thanks for your response...I would just say not all trip computers are created equally! Members on the swift sport forums have done a lot of 'brim to brim' testing to establish the real mpg and sadly it is the case that the Sport is rather optimistic. But I totally agree that the purchase price of the car counters this argument and the emissions to a point, and that flooring turbo hatches does indeed drink fuel by the load (used to own one!)

    Other than that though, the Sport is a great value proposition - I too loved the looks of it, the handling, the inerior and the spec level is astonishing for the money. Even better on new vehicles now as well because there is a touch screen combining media player and a satnav as standard on top of all the rest of the kit.

    Thanks for the great detailed review though - don't think I've read a bad review of this car in all my research online prior to test driving and purchasing. Will update here once I've owned the car for a few weeks :)