First drive: Suzuki Swift Sport
Key features: More power, more economy, six-speed gearbox
Our view: Bearing the name Swift was always going to spark certain expectations of Suzuki’s supermini, and generally it’s delivered, regarded as one of the more push-on members of the small car sector. And none more so than its flagship model, the Swift Sport.
Now there is a new Sport, in showrooms in January 2012 and facing the challenge of pleasing the surprisingly high number of diehard fans earned by its predecessor – 6,000 in the UK alone.
The newcomer is of course based on the all-new Swift launched last year, and its sportification programme looks promising on paper.
There is a new engine of 1.6 litres, clearly bigger than the standard Swift’s 1.2, yet both more potent and more efficient than its Sport predecessor – despite the fact that it is based on the older engine.
Where that offered 123bhp and 109lbft of torque, the new unit serves up 134 horses and 118lbft of torque, good enough to shave two tenths off the 0-62mph time. It passes the mark in 8.7 seconds and goes on to 121mph.
Yet the newcomer also returns 44.1mpg and 147g/km of CO2, the old engine managing only 39.8 and 165.
The engine is coupled to a six-speed manual transmission (the old one only had five speeds), while handling enhancements centre on a new design of 17-inch alloy wheel, each a kilo lighter than its predecessor.
Suzuki aims for, and achieves, a suitably sporty look on its new car, with aerodynamic add-ons both controlling lift and making the car appear lower to the ground. Inside gets the treatment too, with sporty seats of course and a neat five-dial instrument cluster.
So all good on paper, but do the actions live up to the words? Well yes, to a degree… The car feels nippy, so long as you make plentiful use of the gears, and it eats up motorway miles with push-on confidence.
However it’s in the twisty bits, of which the mountainous launch test route around Barcelona boasted plenty, where one or two questions are asked.
There’s no lack of grip, or difficulty of placing, it’s just that one feels just a little less involved compared to the older Sport. A somewhat over-muscled self-centreing action to the steering wheel adds to a sense of mild bemusement.
One gets to the end of the drive having enjoyed it (enjoyment being a vital factor with the Sport’s target audience) but with a few nagging doubts at the back of the mind.
The Swift Sport goes on sale at around £14,500 and for that you get a standard equipment list that includes projector headlamps with a wash function, fog lamps, auto air con, a push-button start, cruise control, a Bluetooth connection and tinted rear glass.
The new Swift Sport is indeed a move forward compared to its predecessor, and it’s good. It’s just not quite great…
Model Tested: Suzuki Swift Sport
On Sale: January 2012
Price: £14,500 approx (tbc)
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol
Power (bhp): 134
Torque (lb/ft): 118
0-62mph (sec): 8.7
Top speed (mph): 121
Fuel economy (combined, mpg): 44.1
CO2 emissions (g/km): 147
Key rival: Renaultsport Twingo
Test date: November 2011
Words by: Andrew Charman