Moving swiftly on

Road test: Suzuki Swift Sport 1.6 VVT

Motor Writer voted the Suzuki Swift car of the year 2011 for its great handling, funky looks and all-round fun. We have therefore been looking forward to driving the new Sport version which builds on those sound underpinnings and delivers more power to enjoy that fabulous chassis.

Starting inside, the interior is still plain, but as I wrote last time, the conventional controls are an asset and their positioning around the driver is near perfect. The Sport comes with a few extra toys and some red stitching on the seats and leather steering wheel but there’s little to distract from the main function: actually driving the car. Thankfully, the sports seats are well-bolstered offering good lateral support.

Over the previous Sport, this version gains a slightly wider track and marginally longer wheelbase but the biggest changes have been under the bonnet. On paper, the figures don’t look too impressive but 136 bhp and 160 Nm torque from the 1.6 VVT petrol engine are significant in a small car. Coupled with a close ratio six speed gearbox, these make the car very willing indeed. If ever a car should be likened to an animal it’s this; Swift Sport DNA is completely Jack Russell. Something to do with the flexible engine and close gears means the thing feels like it’s positively tugging on its lead to be allowed to charge off into the next sequence of corners. It begs to go faster and be driven harder. I’ve tried to be gentle but it’s just such good fun.

Because it doesn’t have ridiculous performance figures, the Swift Sport is immensely civilised and forgiving. The handling is truly astounding and even on some of the wettest roads that our British summer could offer, I never in danger of reaching the limits of adhesion. 8.7 seconds for the 0-62 mph sprint looks more warm than hot hatch but this only tells half the story. Acceleration is progressive and allowing the revs to climb towards the red line offers a satisfying shove in the back. A favourite 20 mile section of A49 in Cheshire demonstrated everything good about the Sport, from its impeccable manners to mid-range overtaking ability. Sadly the wet field at the Cholmondley Pageant of Power proved a little too much and a good shove was required to extricate the car from the mire.

At 80 mph, ride is still civilised but the engine is spinning at 3,500 rpm which feels somewhat frantic compared to the 3,000 in the 1.3 DDiS diesel we drove last year. While the close ratios help with performance, sixth should really be a bit higher for motorway miles.

Should you buy one? It’s £1,400 cheaper than an unadorned MINI Cooper and slightly quicker. And out of interest, by the time I’d added on the options to bring the MINI’s equipment level up to that of the Suzuki, it came to nearly £20k.

£13,499 will buy fun, practicality and band F road tax (£135 per year). Better than that, I have been onto the Suzuki web site to configure a car and there are no options. Not one.  It already comes with HiD lights, cruise control, metallic paint, 17” alloys, iPod connectivity, electric folding mirrors and keyless entry.

This little Suzuki receives our vote.

Suzuki Swift Sport, £13,499.

Power: 136 bhp (6,900 rpm), torque: 160Nm (4,400 rpm), emissions: 147 g/km CO2 (band F), 0-60 mph: 8.7 secs.

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●●

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