Spending time with a Suzuki Swift Sport is like picking up where you left off with a long-lost friend.

Maybe life got in the way, perhaps kids or a career, and then you had your head turned by some SUV, probably because that’s what all your neighbours bought.

But then you remember that cars used to be fun, like the hot-hatch that gave you a reason to take the long route back from work.

Thankfully, this is something Suzuki has never forgotten.

Because the new Swift Sport marks the welcome return of a formula many had left behind – modest power, but light weight (just 975kg, in fact) – mixed in with a few updates to make it a better fit for the modern, overly-congested world.

Take the engine, for starters. The previous Swift Sport‘s normally aspirated 1.6 was a zingy exercise in hunting down the redline. Great fun, sure, but here in the south east of England open roads are few and far between. There just isn’t time to wait for 6,000rpm to arrive before an overtaking opportunity evaporates.

So the new Swift Sport uses the 1.4-litre turbo from the Vitara S.  And, my, is it a beautifully squirty little box of boost.

it’s a beautifully squirty little box of boost

It needs a couple of k’s on the clock before peak torque (230Nm of it) arrives, which it does in a juicy fat wodge. It doesn’t stick around for long, though, so it’s best to change up early, then rinse and repeat.

Do that and you’ll discover a typically light six-speed manual ‘box. The shift-action isn’t particularly positive, but the ratios are perfectly chosen, making the job of threading one gear into the next really quite addictive.

It’s much the same for corners, too. The Swift has that invincible feeling to its handling that comes from having its wheels literally at its extremities, and it’s not long before you find yourself piling into bends at great speed, followed by sawing at the wheel in one, cartoony movement. At which point, the little Suzuki just grips, doesn’t bother with trifles such as body-roll, and skips through the corner, probably singing “tra-la-la” under its breath.

Like I said, fun.

And the ride? I think it’s perfectly judged, but yes, it’s firm. My mother would probably call it hard. But then who ever got off a space-hopper only to complain it was “a bit bouncy?”

The chunky seats do an excellent job of holding you in place, anyway. From which you’ll enjoy excellent visibility, and a view of the instruments with their sultry red glow. Although given the array of somewhat gimmicky screens on offer from the central display, it’s a shame the one useful read-out missing is a digital speedo.

Elsewhere in the cabin, Suzuki have added more sporty hints with red-tinged faux-carbon fibre and plenty of red stitching, although I’m not a fan of the black plastic on the lower half of the steering wheel.

On the outside, the Sport gets a unique front end with a more aggressive snout, neat carbon-esque side skirts, blackened pillars, and a rear diffuser with suitably pokey-out exhausts. Sort of cute, but angry. Makes you want to ruffle its antenna.

The goody roster starts with LED headlights (which are excellent) complete with high beam assist, and carries on with keyless entry, adaptive cruise control, reversing camera, lane departure warning and prevention, and unfortunately the same over-sensitive forward collision alert system that we’ve complained about on other Suzukis. That you can turn off.

Satnav is standard, and while the user interface feels well behind the curve, the system does at least offer both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The price for all this is a very reasonable £17,999, with an also very reasonable economy figure of 47.1 mpg – that’s under the new WLTP regime, too, and within 1 mpg of my average after a week’s sprinting about the countryside.

However, let’s be clear.  I’m not about to suggest the Swift Sport is perfect, because it isn’t.  No car is.

But it is the friend you could easily spend every day with, without ever growing tired of each other.

Tester’s Notes

  • Like catching up with an old friend.
  • Punchy power delivery from turbo petrol unit.
  • Perfectly chosen gear ratios, light shift-action, although not especially tactile.
  • Typical go-kart handling, feels almost invincible, body-roll only evident when seriously committed.
  • Ride is firm, but not wearing; Monroe shocks tame undulations well; quite a bit of squat under acceleration.
  • Engine noise lacks character; plenty of tyre noise on coarse surfaces.
  • Touchscreen system still lacks finesse in its interface; Android Auto/Apple CarPlay both standard.
  • Not a fan of shiny black plastic on steering wheel.
  • Really needs a digital speed read-out in cluster display.
  • Collision avoidance system still excessively panicky.
  • 46 mpg on test, more easily achievable.
Entry-level Price£17,999Price as tested£17,999
Engine1373cc 4-cyl turbo petrolTransmission6-speed manual
Power140ps @ 5,500rpmTorque230Nm @ 2,500-3,500rpm
0-628.1 secsTop speed130 mph
Economy47.1 mpgCO2135 g/km
Dimensions3890 x 1735 x 1495 (LxWxH)Kerb Weight975 kg

Alex Kefford

Editor

Freelance journalist, ex-offroad driving instructor and long distance road-tripper. If you have any questions about this piece, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter.