Suzuki’s take on the hot supermini has been something of a cult favourite since its launch in 2005.
It’s always been a left-field choice, with an emphasis on fun dynamics and smart handling, rather than outright power like competitors such as Ford’s Fiesta ST or the RenaultSport Clio.
Weighing in at less than a tonne, the 2018 car takes the same lightweight formula and brings it up to date with more space, the latest safety technology, like brake assist and lane departure warning, and modern conveniences such as reversing camera and parking sensors, a touchscreen infotainment system and adaptive cruise control.
Suzuki Swift Sport
Price: From £17,999
Engine: 1.4-litre, four-cylinder, turbo, petrol
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Top speed: 130mph
0-60mph: 7.8 seconds
Fuel consumption: 50.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 125 g/km
It’s altogether a more grown up, more complete car than its predecessor.
But it’s still a hoot to drive.
Powered by the turbocharged 1.4-litre Boosterjet engine which underpins much of Suzuki’s modern line-up, such as the Baleno and the Vitara SUV, nought to 62mph comes in a respectable 8.1 seconds.
As ever, handling is the Swift’s strongest suit and its lowered, stiffened suspension keeps the car feeling far more stable than the standard Swift when cornering at speed.
The six-speed manual gearbox feels pleasantly solid and short-shifting. ‘Pleasantly solid’ could also describe the cabin – at least compared to the old model. But despite a step upward in terms of build quality it’s still a step behind the latest Ford Fiesta inside (although better than the aforementioned Clio).
I didn’t like the red graphic detail on the dash, which I felt cheapened things a little despite the ‘sporty’ colour choice.
Refinement is much improved on the old Swift, although the low-profile tyres on the 17-inch alloy wheels transferred a bit too much of the road into the cabin on rough surfaces.
With five doors and a bigger boot than before, the 2018 Swift is for the first time a realistic prospect as a fun runabout for someone who has to, you know, occasionally take more than a couple of day’s worth of shopping home or pick up an odd number of passengers.
It’s likeable and, with its relatively subtle looks, will still likely be something of a left-field choice in a segment of the market where many like the sporty design cues to be a bit more obvious.
There’s no denying the Swift Sport has moved forward – so it ought to win fans as before – but the challenge for Suzuki is that the market has moved forward as well.
Our, admittedly well-equipped as standard – test car comes in at £17,999. You can have a low-spec Fiesta ST for that money and the Fiesta is considerably up on power compared with the Swift.
And as well as setting its sights on the Fiesta STs and RenaultSport Clios of this market, Suzuki needs to look over its shoulder to the hot city cars like the VW Up GTI which, like the Swift, go for the fun-over-outright-power school of hatchback design.
The Up GTI, RenaultSport Twingo – and even the Kia Picanto GT-line S (with the 1.0-litre turbo engine) are considerably cheaper than the Swift Sport and can offer comparable driving thrills.
With far more equipment than a similarly-priced Fiesta and more space than the Up GTI – and the city car class in general – the Swift Sport still has its niche and you could argue it’s the sensible choice with a balance of speed, space and stuff.
But it’s a smaller niche than before. It’s a fun little car that will deservedly win fans.
It would win even more if Suzuki were able to put a bit more space between the Swift Sport and the Fiesta ST in terms of pricing.