What is it?
It’s the Suzuki Swift Sport - a Suzuki Swift (very good too), with a dose of Sportiness. Not too much, mind: this isn’t a GTi competitor, because that would be expensive and hard to insure. So it gets a 1.6-litre engine with 125bhp, 17-inch alloys, a 0-62mph time of 8.9sec and will cost near enough £11,500 when it goes on sale in October.
What’s it like?
Very nice, as it happens. The regular Swift’s a decent car: well built, looks good on the outside, is interesting and attractive inside. This Sport version just improves it for the keener driver. There’s a sweet gearbox (though 4th to 5th balks), good throttle response and a very progressive clutch, so the drivetrain is peachily smooth. And although it’s not fast, the Sport is reasonably brisk. The engine makes a decent noise at higher revs, too. All the more shame, then, that the pedals are hopelessly spaced for easy heel-and-toe downshifts. At pace, the steering is fairly weighty, with strong self-centring and slightly dull reactions, which is a pity given the rest of the controls are so positive. The Sport gets Monroe dampers and uprated springs and bushings. They tighten body control but, because the ride’s still respectable, there are more body movements than the keenest drivers will want. Still, the Swift Sport is agile and grips well. An ESP system has also been developed specifically for this derivative that allows a decent amount of slip angle before gently interfering.
Should I buy one?
If you’re thinking of buying a Citroën C2 VTR then yes, you should. This is better in just about every way. It’s also faster and cheaper than a Mini Cooper, though can’t match that car’s tactile appeal. And while it’s not the keenest drive, in terms of affordable small semi-sporting hatches, it’s the best there is.