When it’s not neutered by the brake-based stability control, some vestige of which remains even when the Daimler-sourced ESP is entirely ‘turned off’, the adjustability of this chassis means it’s possible to drive within the speed limit and not get bored, which is all anybody ever wanted from a back-to-basics hot hatch in the first place. That crucial handover from damper compression to rebound also feels unusually well cushioned by the standards of the class, and so there’s control to match the compliance.
There are some caveats, however. Suzuki may have diligently hollowed the steering rack to save weight but it’s a relative weak-spot of this package. Light on feel but artificially heavy, its strong self-centring action quickly becomes wearing and it lacks the directness of what you’ll find in a Mini. Meanwhile, the shift quality of the six-speed manual gearbox is short and tactile but light and not particularly memorable. The engine also feels more of an appliance, which was never the case before.
Importantly, the Sport’s alter-ego as a shopping cart remains intact. It turns tightly and lightly at low speeds, and there’s good visibility through a windscreen that remains fairly upright.
Should I buy one?
That depends on your expectations, and your budget. Suzuki has quite audaciously raised the asking price of this car compared to the previous iteration – it’s now nudging £18,000. It means you’re going to pay quite a bit extra for a more rounded and capable, but ultimately less thrilling, machine.
There are also new rivals to consider – the Swift Sport is now almost four grand more expensive than a VW Up GTI. The Japanese car offers greater practicality and has a touch more in its locker to keep keen drivers interested, but is a less desirable package.
Greater still is the threat posed by the inbound Fiesta ST, early impressions of which suggest it could turn out to be another high-water mark for the supermini segment. Given Ford intends to sneak the pricing below £20,000, it would be senseless not to wait to try that car before buying one of these. We shouldn’t forget about the Mini Cooper and Peugeot 208 GTI, either.
In the end, the Swift Sport remains a fine little drivers’ car, but it’s no longer quite the cheerful, overtly effervescent, good value proposition it was.
Suzuki Swift Sport specification
Where Andalusia, Spain Price £17,999; On sale Now; Engine 4 cyls, 1373cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 138bhp @ 5500rpm; Torque 170lb ft @ 2500-3500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 975kg; Top speed 130mph; 0-62mph 8.1sec; Fuel economy 50.4mpg; CO2 125g/km; Rivals VW Up GTI, Mini Cooper One, Ford Fiesta ST