Raw power has never been the Suzuki Swift Sport’s thing.
Traditionally, its raison d’être has been to wrap up just enough performance in a relatively svelte package and sell it at an attractively low price.
The previous-generation Swift Sport produced just 123bhp from its naturally aspirated 1.6-litre engine. Measuring it against a 300bhp- plus, all-paw mega-hatch wasn’t so much like bringing a knife to a gun fight as attempting to face down a howitzer with an egg whisk.
But on the right road, and when you got that free-revving four-pot whirring like David’s slingshot arm, it could give any of the hot hatch Goliaths pause for thought. It used its agility to overcome any performance deficit and emerged as one of our favourite driver’s cars on a pound-to-pound basis, providing a legion of nascent but impecunious enthusiasts with a realistic route into the hot hatch club.
Times have moved on, and Suzuki is no more immune to the pressures of tightening emissions regulations than any other manufacturer. So it is that this new Swift Sport, the third, is fitted with a turbocharged 1.4-litre motor. It’s the same BoosterJet lump as you get in Suzuki’s larger Vitara and S-Cross models. That might sound like something of a passion-killer, but the unit has been tweaked to produce 138bhp and 170lb ft and it doesn’t exactly have a lot of car to pull along; even in its latest guise, the Suzuki bucks the general industry trend for significant model-on-model weight gain by continuing to weigh about as much as a bag of Maltesers.
What’s expanded as dramatically as Mr Creosote’s waistline, however, is the price. Suzuki will charge you £17,999, pushing the Swift Sport to the fringes of Ford Fiesta ST territory, which is the car industry equivalent of smearing yourself in chum and leaping feet-first into shark-infested waters. A tacit acknowledgement of how ambitious this pricing strategy is can found in the fact that Suzuki UK is offering a £1500 discount on the price until the end of this month.