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Suzuki Swift Sport (2012) long-term test review
the CAR road test team
Long Term Tests
19 November 2012 10:20
How fuel efficient is CAR's Suzuki Swift Sport? - 19 November 2012
The Swift is piling on the miles – we're now past 6000 on the odo, which means we're not far off the first service. Suzuki sticks with unfashionably short, 9000-mile intervals: good for looking after the engine, bad for the wallet. We'll let you know how we get on when time comes to book it in for its first batch of maintenance.
In other wallet-related news, the Swift Sport isn't proving as economical as might've hoped. Blame the short gearing (it has six ratios, but even in top it's a bit droney on the motorway) and eager, revvy nature of the 1.6. As noted previously, this is a car you jump into and drive quite hard, as you would an MX-5. It's not a turbocharged torque-fest, it's not even that powerful – this less-is-more quality defines the Swift's character, but it seems the thrash-me zestiness is harming the economy.
Here's a note of how far our last few tanks have stretched:
• Brim at 5734 miles – 36.5mpg
• Brim at 6040 miles – 35.2mpg
• Brim at 6355 miles – 34.6mpg
Naturally, I wasn't exactly expecting the Swift Sport to match the official 44.1mpg, but it's still disappointing that a supermini weighing just 1045kg isn't more frugal than our diesel Merc CLS long-termer (average 45mpg). I shall report back when I install a box of eggshells, a yellow flashing light and a hyper-miling instruction manual.
By Tim Pollard
The Suzuki Swift Sport's headlamps – 30 October 2012
The clocks changed in the UK at the weekend and we're now plunged into darkness well before home time, so last night was a good test of the Swift Sport's headlights. We've already raved about the bulging spec sheet on Suzuki's warm hatch and included in the price are high-intensity discharge projector lamps. They're a kind of poor man's xenons, using similar electrical-gas discharge technology but at a more affordable price.
Living in the murky middle of nowhere, I reckon my commute is as good as any test of a car's lights and I'm pleased to report the Swift passed with flying colours. On full beam there's a pleasing, hard-edged illuminated halo of light which reminded me of top-end Mercedes' beam patterns. When dipped, they still perform with a bright crisp intensity.
It's yet another reminder that the £13,499 Swift Sport is exceedingly well equipped. No other supermini costing less than £20,000 has HID lamps as standard, and you'll spend £485 speccing them as an option on a Mini. Others charge more, up to £765 on an Ibiza or A1.
I was impressed – they're the best lights I can remember testing on a supermini. But then there's nothing 'mini' about them. The Swift's lights are absolutely massive!
By Tim Pollard
The good, the bad and great visibility in the Swift Sport – 5 October 2012
A few weeks in, and I still can’t get the Swift Sport's seat in the right position. Plus I’ve recently noticed that, as short as I might be, my knees are knocking the steering wheel column. At first I thought this was because I have to pull the seat quite far forward causing the knee-knock, but when in heels I push the seat back further and my knees are still knocking the bottom. I'm surprised the taller members of the CAR team - step forward Ben Pulman and Tim Pollard – don't find this a problem.
On a good note, visibility in the latest Suzuki Swift is awesome. The large door mirrors are big enough to eliminate blindspots and yet do not look out of place with the design. And that perpendicular, upright glasshouse means it’s a very open, airy environment in the cabin - and you can see out in every direction.
It's still a bundle of fun, too. The Swift Sport responds well to being driven flat-out (within the speed limit, of course). It's not a particularly fast car, but with revs it comes to life and it always remains composed and comfortable. This approach is not so great for fuel economy, however.
Oh, and I still find the stereo just shocking. It's too tinny, and the quality of the sound betrays this car's £13,499 price tag.
By Sarah-Jayne Harrison
Comfort versus fun: the Swift Sport conundrum - 21 September 2012
The Swift Sport is a popular choice at CAR Towers, and keeping hold of the keys is no easy task. It’s made a lot easier with the Swift Sport’s fitted-as-standard keyless entry and start feature, though.
'Where are the Suzuki keys?' is a regular call around the CAR office. That'll be me ‘hiding’ them in my handbag again. It's so easily done – and convenient for wresting the Swift away from other members of the CAR team. It’s one of my favourite inventions, keyless entry. I've been spending a lot of time with the Swift recently, and so really appreciate not having to actually dig out the keys from the depths of my handbag every day.
So, what of the Swift Sport once installed behind the wheel? The style is subtly improved from its predecessor. They're only minor adjustments, granted, but the nip and tuck has made a difference; it’s still a boxy little hatch but there are more curves and flair, thanks to those massive xenon headlights and cheeky rear diffuser.
More chic it may be, but the Sport version of the Swift is no back massager. Point it down its spiritual home territory of a winding B-road, and you feel every bump (and occasional jump). The seats don’t help, either. The bolsters are supportive but for me, finding a comfortable driving position is nigh-on impossible. And, if you manage to get it spot-on, it’s all undone if when you allow passengers access to the back seats, whereupon you have to readjust the seat all over again.
Comfort grumbles aside, over the past few weeks our Swift Sport has proved it’s nothing if not fun. Send the rev count north of 4000rpm and you can really push the Sport on country roads – abuse which it just laps up and begs for more. It’s not a soothing choice, but if it’s good-value fun you’re after, I reckon the Swift Sport is up there with the best of them.
By Sarah-Jayne Harrison
The Suzuki Swift Sport: CAR's first impressions – 7 August 2012
The Swift has now been with us for a few weeks and you can read our full first report in the August 2012 issue of CAR Magazine on sale now. It's proving popular with the CAR team, many of whom remember making the last-generation Swift our car of the year back in 2005.
This latest generation is a tad bigger in every dimension – we're talking stretched by a centimetre or so – so it remains a bijou supermini, which is proving ideal for day-to-day duties. I've yet to resort to family duties in it with children in the back, but I'll be sure to test out the rear accommodation during this test. What I can confirm at this point is it's perfectly comfortable in the front, even for a 6ft 2in lanky driver like me.
There's something pleasingly just-right about the package. In my mag review, I asked whether it was time for a Slow Car movement, in the same vein as the Slow Food movement. One where we don't obsess over horsepower and more of everything. One where we applaud smaller, lighter cars with the emphasis back on the basics. We've seen Mazda succeed with its MX-5 for this very reason, and it looks like the motoring world is equally switching on to the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ twins.
After these first few weeks getting to know the Swift, I'd say we'll end up saying the same about the new 2012 Suzuki Swift Sport. It serves up just enough performance to sate my warm hatch wants. It's small enough to be city-friendly, yet capacious enough for my day-to-day driving. And it's bristling with sportiness – not Usain Bolt 0-60mph obsession, but with a general athleticism borne of its 1045kg kerbweight. It's highly chuckable and you can extend it further than a full-bore hot hatch at lower speeds.
Less, so far, really is more.
By Tim Pollard
Speccing CAR's new Suzuki Swift Sport - 25 June 2012
Well, that was one of the easiest new-car specs we've ever done. The Suzuki Swift Sport - soon to be of this parish - doesn't have many options, you see. None at all, in fact. It's literally down to colour.
Visit the Suzuki.co.uk car configurator and you're faced with a modest five paint options. We chose Silky Silver Metallic for its photogenic qualities and, besides, we've kind of moved on from our silver ennui of a few years ago. A small car like the Swift just photographs well in bright metallics, and it appealed more than the white, black, blue and red hues.
So apart from choosing the colour, there was nothing else to do while speccing CAR Magazine's new Swift Sport long-termer. Standard equipment is pretty generous for a £13,499 warm hatch - and the following is fitted as standard:
• Five airbags (twin front, side and driver's knee)
• Cruise control
• Electric front windows and mirrors
• HID projector headlamps with washers
• Automatic lights
• USB socket with iPod compatibility
• 17in alloy wheels
• Rear privacy glass
• Keyless entry and ignition
• Bluetooth phone integration
That's a good stash of kit for the money - and not too profligate, either. This car is all about simple thrills, so what more would we need on a pared-back warm hatchback?
I can't wait to start running the Suzuki Swift Sport. This car is all about mimimalism: a small price, a small footprint and modest power - but allied to big thrills. I've driven the hatch a few times on shorter road tests and loved its purity of purpose. It's more 1980s than Noughties - so stay tuned for regular updates on CAR's new 1045kg tearaway soon.
By Tim Pollard