In an age when Clios and Minis have 200bhp, Golfs and Meganes sport 250bhp, and the hottest A3 and 1-series offer up over 300bhp, Suzuki’s new Mk2 Swift Sport is a breath of (modest) fresh air.
The four-cylinder engine remains at a mere 1.6 litres (naturally aspirated, of course), and despite it gaining a variable intake system and tweaked variable valve timing over its predecessor, as the Mk1 SS boasted just 121bhp, a 10% increase in peak power equates to a modest 134bhp. Peak torque is up too, but by just 9lb ft.
Meek numbers, but then the first Swift Sport was magnificent despite its lack of headline figures. Does the new car match up? Read on for our first drive review of the new Suzuki Swift Sport.
What is new about the new Suzuki Swift Sport?
There’s stiffer front and rear suspension, new 17in alloys save a /kilo/ per corner, and there’s now a gearbox with a sixth gear. First through five remain tightly stacked, but the extra cog cuts emissions (from 165 to 147g/km), improves fuel economy (39.8 become 44.1mpg), and mean less frenetic cruising. At least that’s the theory; the reality is that acceleration still isn’t stellar, and you will still be pulling 3000rpm at 70mph.
The standard Swift’s design subtlety improved by a subtle bodykit, there’s room in the back for tall people (and the headrests actually extend high enough to support your head), and the boot’s not bad either. Add in improvements in motorway refinement (short gearing notwithstanding), loads of standard equipment (air-con, cruise control, electric door mirrors, Bluetooth, MP3 and USB connectivity, and seven airbags), and you’ve got a decent little hot hatch.
But how does it drive?
Our test route took us through mountains near Barcelona, the first heavy downpour in months leaving the roads rather slippery. There’s the tiniest hint of torque steer in first gear, but thereafter you can pin the throttle without fear of repercussions. Then shift, fast as you can, through the slick gearbox, right foot flat on the right pedal again just as soon as the cogs mesh, up to 7000rpm, engine happy to sing to the red, and roaring along nicely. Lift slightly for a blind crest or bend, or hard on the progressive, positive brakes, and then flat again.
The steering’s accurate, quick and direct, it’s nimble, there’s good chassis balance, but it’s a bit more comfortable and composed than the first Swift Sport. Still fun, though. Great fun. What broken Tarmac we could find revealed little wrong with the ride, there being just a slight patter from the secondary ride. Turn the ESP off and the hints of mild understeer mature in the atrocious conditions, but a mid-corner lift won’t see you spinning backwards off the road.
The more composed set-up has hardly compromised the handling, while all of the extra equipment only serves to broaden its appeal. And the like the first Swift Sport you never think about the Suzuki badge on the bonnet because you’re having such a good time.