I’ll readily admit I’ve had a soft spot for the Suzuki Swift Sport after having first driven one high in the hills above Barcelona approximately 9 years ago. It was Halloween, and yet such was the Spanish weather we were in T-shirts, turning up the air-conditioning.
Things have changed a lot since then. No-one’s quite as eager to jump on a plane these days that’s for sure, that T-shirt is a tad tighter than it used to be, and the Swift Sport is now a hybrid. In fact, Suzuki’s entire range has gone hybrid, the Swift Sport being the last member to receive the electrification treatment. (It’s also why you can no longer buy a new Jimny. Boo!).
There’s still a 1, 373cc turbocharged in-line 4-cylinder petrol engine behind the Swift Sport’s more aggressive looking front bumper and grille, but now it’s accompanied by a new belt-driven starter-generator supported by a 48-volt electrical system, plus a battery they’ve hidden beneath the front passenger seat.
Torque therefore, as you might expect, is up – to 173lbft, to be exact – and it’s available from just 2,000 rpm. Suzuki say 50 mpg is achievable too because of the motor’s assistance meaning now you need not work the engine quite so hard (I got high 40s out here in the Shropshire Hills).
Power surprisingly, is down; where once a Swift Sport packed 138 bhp, it now has to make do with 127. Weight, inevitably, is also up, albeit not by much. The Swift Sport now tips the scales at 1025kg.
So, what of on-road performance? This is a hot – well, warm at least – hatch after all.
Top speed where permitted remains at 130mph, whereas 0-62 mph now takes 9.1 seconds – that’s a full second longer than it used to. The question is do you actually notice such things?
Because of its short gearing, and the electric motor now filling the gaps in the torque curve, the Swift Sport still feels nicely sprightly; faster perhaps than those figures suggest. Compact dimensions and firm yet forgiving new spring and damper rates mean you can still punt it along a B-road with enthusiasm; Suzuki have even positioned the pedals, so you can heel-and-toe.
Should you enter a corner with “conviction” it will still cock its inner rear wheel in the air, alternatively should you lift off abruptly it’ll oversteer just like a 205GTi used to. Honestly, Idon’t think I ever had quite so much fun criss-crossing the border on the B4368. My smile lasted long-after the Swift’s brake discs had cooled.
Nevertheless, as fun as the Swift Sport is, it is not without its faults. The biggest of which is now its price. Although loaded with standard kit – LED headlamps, polished 17” alloys, Lane
Departure Prevention, Adaptive Cruise Control, six airbags, ISOFIX, ESP, Advanced Forward Detection System and Dual Sensor Brake Support (DSBS), DAB, touch screen sat-nav, Android Auto/Apple Carplay, a reversing camera, auto air-con, Bluetooth, plus, no doubt more besides – the quality of the Swift’s interior lets it down. Some of the plastics, the door cards, and especially the parcel shelf, do feel somewhat thin.
That wouldn’t perhaps be a problem if the Swift Sport was still the bargain it used to be, but these days Suzuki will charge you £21,570 before they’ll hand over the keys.
To put that into perspective, a VW Up GTi, albeit slightly smaller but with the offer of similar thrills nonetheless, and one could argue, far superior build-quality, starts at £15,275. Ford’s brilliantly effervescent Fiesta ST is £24,280.
Clearly then, it’s getting harder to recommend the Swift Sport. Yet, having spent time with the Swift Sport once again, it’s still hard not to love it.
Suzuki Swift Sport 1.4 Boosterjet Hybrid
Engine: 1,373 4-Cyl 16V Petrol turbo
Power: 129 bhp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 173 lbft @ 2,000 – 3,500 rpm
Electric Motor: Synchronous, Type WA06B
Maximum Output: kW/rpm 10/300
Maximum Torque: 39lbft/500
Transmission: 6-speed manual. Front-wheel drive.
Performance: 0-62 mph in 9.1 sec
Max Speed: 130 mph
MPG: 50.1 Combined.
CO2: 127 g/km
Price: From £21,570
@bird_liam. Many thanks to Alun, Jess, Lee and Paul at Suzuki’s UK Press office.