The hot hatch spectrum now includes a broad array of machinery, from those that will hit 100 in under four seconds and cost six figures to the likes of the new Swift Sport. While it won’t break any necks with its outright speed, it literally flies off the bang-for-buck scale.
It’s a car with more of everything when compared with the one it replaces; more kit, safety and power. Yeah, it’s slightly more expensive too but Swift Sport still won’t break the bank; it doesn’t even crack the $30k mark, being $28,500 for the manual, the one we have here.
With its new turbocharged engine, the uptick in power is only a few units but the kicker is the swollen torque curve which makes the Sport a more rounded machine. Though down on cubes, the 1.4 has a turbo to boost pull by 44 per cent and that twist is spread liberally throughout the engine’s range. It’s now easier to extract its potential and Sport will rip to 100 in 7.5sec without much drama, provided you’re quick on the gear lever.
The throw of this ’box is pretty peachy, just watch you don’t snag the gate on the way into third, while better synchos in the lower gears help the cogs gel when you’re wrenching on the stick. Its clutch has a lightweight but defined action to make the dying art of selecting gears that much more enjoyable.
Novel in this age is the lack of drive modes to fiddle with; the only button that needs prodding is the starter and you’re set. There’s an ounce of added weight to the Sport’s steering at town speeds and a self-centring action is detectable but it all comes right at speed.
The Suzuki dives into bends terrier-like while you’re treated to a good feel for the action along with a consistent weighting and response. It can snag mid-corner bumps, sending the odd shock up through the column, but otherwise this is a great cornering tool.
Sportier suspenders keep this Swift pinned down better, the rear end planted though is easily provoked with a lift of the gas midcorner to induce a whiff of a wiggle that helps round up the curve more dramatically. The fronts are up to deploying the extra grunt. There’s the occasional squealing from the rubber under duress but no unruly torque reaction or spin upon exiting the slower, tighter turns.
The turbo’d donk might not rev as hard and as high as the old 1.6 but has a much broader zing zone, going right nice from 2500 to redline at just beyond six thou. The brakes are good performers too, responsive under foot and this sensitivity helps balance the car into the bends as despite a low kerb weight, it carries over 63 per cent of it over the front. It takes a determined effort to fluster the Sport, and this is part of its charm – you can tap most of its potential without having to go lunatic fast.
Adding to its endearing character, the Sport is also vastly improved when you’re not whipping the bejesus out of it. The ride is most compliant over city streets for a model designated Sport. It’s a zippy little city car though overall fuel use in the low 7L/100km range is not difficult to achieve by milking the midrange pull.
With just 968kg to haul around, this diminutive four feels like a titan and happily skips from first to third to fifth on the commute, and pulls sweetly in sixth at 60km/h. It’s a small car so it revels in city environs, even if this manual lacks the convenience of an auto hill hold function. At the legal limit, the 1.4 is quietly working away with just 2200rpm on the dial and although tyre roar is a constant on coarse chip paths, it’s hardly unbearable.
The donor Swift is wider and longer than the old model so the Sport also benefits from a little more space inside and room in the boot, though the spare wheel has been replaced by a repair kit. Added Sport bits include the seats with accommodating bolstering, though some might find the base squab narrow, and perhaps the position could be lowered. There’s some questionable red detailing, but alloy pedal covers and a sport steering wheel set it off.
Apart from the lack of a digital speed readout it’s an otherwise well appointed machine with a seven-inch touchscreen, sat nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Figure also on a smart key, AEB, lane departure alert and active cruise.
Swift Sport gets swish alloys, an enlarged honeycomb grille, a chin spoiler, LED headlights and a rear diffuser complete with twin exhaust tips. There weren’t many fans of the faux carbon treatment for the bodykit, and that yellow hue sure is something. But as to the rest of the Swift Sport, we certainly like it, a lot.