What is it?
Pleasant surprises of an affordable nature are not a common occurrence in this industry, but the Suzuki Swift Sport of 2006 was such a thing. So too was its replacement six years later, and now we have this: a third iteration that seeks to prolong the car’s reputation as a bit of a drivers’ gem.
The basic recipe has, alas, changed a little. The old car’s sharply responsive atmospheric 1.6-litre engine is replaced with a marginally more powerful 1.4-litre that already serves in the high-riding Vitara and S-Cross. Its headline figure of 138bhp is almost incidental in this case, because forced induction has resulted in 170lb ft of torque from 2500rpm. That’s almost half as much again as the previous Swift Sport and has the potential to markedly alter the previous car’s snappy personality.
This new car is, however, lighter than the one it replaces. Built alongside the Ignis and quirky Xbee crossover at the marque’s Sagara plant in Japan, the saving amounts to 70kg – a substantial deficit brought about largely by redesigning certain suspension components, not least the torsion-beam rear axle, and a more bulbous but stiffer new body, which is significantly lighter than before.
It drops the Swift Sport into sub-tonne territory and gives it a 0-62mph time of 8.2sec, which looks favourable next to a combined fuel economy of 50.4mpg. Top speed, meanwhile, is 130mph.
In design terms this car is still recognisably Swift but rather more hulking at the kerbside. The dimensions are largely unchanged – it’s fractionally shorter and lower than a Toyota Yaris GRMN, but wider – yet the chassis sits 50mm closer to the tarmac than before, with carbon-effect bumpers and skirts exaggerating the drop. In comparison to non-Sport Swifts, it’s also 40mm wider.
In profile, it’s a little more svelte than before, and Suzuki claims new intake strakes along with engine and floor undercovers help reduce wind resistance by a tenth. You do, however, still get a pair of cannon-esque exhaust tips and 17in wheels wrapped in 195-section rubber. Overall it’s not the prettiest thing, though you’d never mistake it for anything other than the most potent model in the range.