The eye-catching good looks and European-inspired driving dynamics of Suzuki’s Swift form the perfect basis for a higher performance derivative. That potential has now been realised with the launch of the new flagship model, the Swift Sport 3-door hatchback, which offers an exciting driving experience in a highly practical and stylish package.

Building on feedback from the Company’s motor sport programme, the latest Swift derivative blends a sports-tuned version of the capable chassis with a Junior World Rally Championship-honed, high-revving 1.6 litre VVT engine to deliver an intoxicating mix that’s of instant appeal to the enthusiast driver.

Agile handling is matched with scintillating performance and the 0 to 62 mph benchmark comes up in just 8.9 seconds – considerably quicker than the Citroën C2 VTR and MINI One and an improvement even on the MINI Cooper.

Among the external features unique to the Swift Sport are a deeper front bumper incorporating a distinctive lower grille, redesigned rear bumper and lights and stylish 17 inch alloy wheels. They are complemented inside by a striking red and black trim colour combination, sports seats and stylish highlights such as brushed stainless steel pedals.

The uprated chassis features stiffer springs and dampers, with ESP® (Electronic Stability Control) providing an added sense of security.

Standard equipment includes automatic air conditioning, curtain airbags, MP3-audio compatibility, front foglamps, steering wheel audio controls and Keyless start.

Sales commence in the UK during October and the price will be announced at or just after September’s Paris Motor Show where the European-spec Swift Sport makes its public debut; expect it to be in the region of £11,500 on the road.

The Sport, along with the rest of the Swift range for Europe, is built at Magyar Suzuki Corporation, Hungary, although such is the demand that current production constraints are likely to limit supply.

The Sport’s newly developed twin-cam 1.6 litre VVT petrol engine has been fully tried and tested in the heat of top-level rallying competition, since it forms the basis of the JWRC Swift.

The M16A 16-valve, 1586 cc unit delivers a maximum power output of 125 PS at 6800 rpm. The 148 Nm peak torque is reached at 4800 rpm. 62 mph from standstill is dispatched in 8.9 seconds, while top speed is 124 mph. Despite the new Swift’s sporting credentials, it still returns a creditable 37.7 mpg on the Combined cycle.

The engine’s exciting performance comes courtesy of components tuned exclusively for the Swift Sport. Variable valve timing optimises efficiency for abundant torque and strong acceleration across the rev range, with high-lift intake and exhaust cams boosting engine performance at high revs.

An electronic throttle provides close control and maximises responsiveness, while the intake manifold is specially widened and has polished internal surfaces that enhance the incoming airflow for higher power. Features such as pistons warm-forged for strength and oil jet cooled enhance durability and permit a high compression ratio of 11.1:1 for greater output.

And a high capacity exhaust system plays its part in boosting efficiency, as well as sounding great thanks to a resonant, full-bodied note that never fails to heighten the exhilaration of driving the Swift Sport.

The 1.6 litre engine is mated to a close-ratio five-speed manual transmission and uprated clutch. Suzuki has paid particular attention to tuning the quality of the gear selection mechanism and the result is an effortless and slick shifting action, allowing rapid and positive changes that enhance the driving experience.

The Swift Sport’s size and exceptional packaging mean it excels in a city environment, but its performance and dynamics will undoubtedly encourage driving on open and challenging roads, simply for the pleasure of it.

Designed to inspire excitement and confidence in equal measures, the chassis’ wide track and 2.38 m wheelbase form the ideal foundation. Specially stiffened and strengthened components provide even greater agility and control than the standard models and an inherently stiff bodyshell ensures there is no undue twisting or bending. Yet the Swift Sport still manages to achieve a sophisticated and comfortable ride.

MacPherson strut suspension at the front is matched by a torsion beam and coil springs at the rear, the low unsprung weight enabling effective control of camber angle and toe-in to deliver accurate and predictable handling. Unique to the Sport are carefully selected Monroe shock absorbers for enhanced damping characteristics and uprated springs and bushings.

As part of the standard package, there’s also the added security of ESP® (Electronic Stability Control) for stable and exciting driving performance, but tuned so as not to be overly intrusive. ESP® identifies potentially dangerous driving situations and through the use of engine torque control and selective braking of individual wheels, works to bring the car back into line in the event of either oversteer or understeer before the onset of complete loss of control.

The Sport’s new-specification, electronically controlled power steering system gives an optimal balance between effort and feel, ensuring the driver feels in touch with the road and is provided with instant feedback.

Finally, the 17 inch alloy wheels with low profile tyres provide excellent grip, while confidence inspiring stopping power with a linear feel comes from large disc brakes all round, ventilated at the front.

Driving enjoyment depends as much on a driver-focused cabin design as it does on the car’s dynamics. Exclusively designed, bucket-type sports seats with large side bolsters provide front seat occupants with excellent support, while the driver grips a leather-wrapped and tilt-adjustable three-spoke steering wheel. The pedals, fabricated in stainless steel with rubber inserts, are ideally placed – and are also designed to collapse in the event of a frontal impact in order to mitigate leg injury.

The sporty black and red combination upholstery is complemented by red trimmed armrests and aluminium-effect strips along the tops of the door panels, while red stitching is used on the steering wheel, on the seats and on the black gearshift boot. Other fine detailing includes chrome plated inner door handles and a silver-finish gearshift knob.

The instrument binnacle is set relatively low to ensure good forward visibility and reinforce the sense of openess. A triple gauge instrument cluster features a tachometer with a needle that rests in the six o’clock position, reflecting sports bike convention; unique to the Sport are chrome rims. Centrally mounted at the leading edge of the fascia is a digital information display that shows time, instant or average fuel consumption and outside temperature.

The standard radio/CD player is neatly and seamlessly integrated into the central fascia which can be operated using either the simple, one touch push button controls, or those conveniently mounted on the sporty three-spoke steering wheel. Usefully, the system features both speed-sensing volume control and MP3-compatibility. Located beneath the radio/CD are large, dial-type controls for the standard equipment automatic air conditioning.

For even greater driving enjoyment, the controls are positioned to ensure their use is readily intuitive, while each has just the right weighting for a natural, confidence inspiring feel. Trim materials carefully selected for their tactile qualities and tight fit and finish contribute to an overall sense of refinement.

At 1690 mm, the Swift has one of the widest bodies in its class and together with a long wheelbase, permits a spacious cabin that realises exceptional people and luggage carrying flexibility, the latter helped by the compact nature of the torsion beam re
ar suspension.

Storage spaces for mobiles, CDs and other every day motoring paraphernalia are spread around the cabin and include a compartment in the instrument panel, a glove box, front and rear cup holders (three in total), front door pockets – large enough for A4-size road atlases – and rear quarter trim pockets. The cube shaped ashtray is conveniently moveable and can be placed in any of the cupholders; and of course it can provide other uses for non smokers.

There’s an ample 213 litres VDA of luggage capacity behind the rear seat and the rear seatback can be folded down to expand that to 495 litres VDA. A tyre repair kit replaces the spare wheel of other Swift models.

The Swift Sport builds on the distinctive good looks of its siblings, which in turn develop styling themes first seen in the Concept-S and Concept-S2 show cars. It therefore retains the muscular flared wheel arches, bold sills and wheels ‘in each corner’.

In particular it features the broad-shouldered beltline that extends the length of the car, from the outer edge of the headlamps through to the tail lights, which, together with the car’s firmly planted stance, provides the Swift with its distinctive and ‘cheeky’ appeal.

Other features which give the Swift its unique identity are the strong curvature of the nose, together with the wraparound glasshouse effect created by black A- and B-pillars, and headlamp housings that sweep rearwards into the wings to mirror the rear tail light treatment.

The Swift Sport’s more aggressive look, instantly suggesting its sporting potential, is provided by new front and rear bumpers, a roof spoiler and striking 10-spoke alloys shod with Goodyear Eagle F1 195/45 R17 tyres which fill the wheel arches.

The twin ‘creases’ that characterise the bonnet flow downwards into a deeper bumper and define the outer edge of the upper honeycomb grille and the new lower grille which extends to the lower edge of the bumper. The air dam elements on either side of this lower grille incorporate the standard front fog lamps which are contained within cylindrical elements bisected by single horizontal bars, for added distinction.

At the rear the lower section of the redesigned bumper incorporates chunky chrome-tipped twin exhausts. Both front and rear light housings have also been subtly restyled. And the Swift Sport’s dynamic lines are set off by a choice of three paint colours: silver metallic, black metallic and a very distinctive pearlescent red.

Like Swift GLX models, the Swift Sport features keyless entry for simple door unlocking, engine start-up and locking. With this system, there’s no fumbling in bags or pockets for keys to gain access to the car, and there’s no need to press a remote button. Instead, as long as the key is being carried, or it’s in a pocket or bag, the system detects its presence and unlocks the car. The doors are then opened simply by pressing a button on either front door handle; in turn, the engine is started by twisting the ignition key housing. Further convenience, particularly when you have your hands full, is provided by an electromagnetic tailgate catch that needs just a light touch to release it.

The Swift range features an outstandingly crashworthy structure – awarded 4 Stars for occupant protection by Euro NCAP – including extensive use of high tensile steel and tailored blanks to achieve strength without the penalty of added weight.

There are standard driver and passenger front and side airbags, as well as full length curtain airbags, and these are complemented by leg-injury mitigating brake and clutch pedals, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters, energy absorbing trim, three point ELR seatbelts for all seats and child seat ISOFIX attachments on the rear seat. Each seat also has a head restraint, those in the rear designed to minimise obstruction of the driver’s rear view.

Pedestrian protection measures too – which received a 3 Star Euro NCAP rating, particularly impressive for a compact car – have been given careful consideration, and bonnet, wings, wipers and front bumper are all designed to be crushable and to absorb impact energy more progressively. And helping to avoid an accident in the first place are anti-lock braking, electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), a brake assist function and ESP® (Electronic Stability Control), all complementing the responsive, agile chassis.

The Swift Sport joins a line-up that is priced from £7,699 and comprises 1.3 GL 3-door and 5-door manual models, 1.5 GLX 5-door manual and automatic, and a 1.3 DDiS diesel 5-door manual model.