DT Garage: Does the Suzuki Swift Sport drive like a hot hatch?

I’m having to ditch the metaphor of this car being like me. My 0-62mph time is nowhere near as good…

5w ago

I managed two months of comparing the Suzuki Swift Sport to me, but I may have to leave that metaphor behind as I talk about how it drives. I’ve been here, there and everywhere over the past few weeks, putting some serious mileage on ‘my’ Suzuki.

Talking about CO2 emissions isn’t the sexiest way to start a piece, but in the context of the Suzuki Swift Sport, it’s an important one.

We all know car manufacturers have to meet certain targets for CO2, and when they don’t meet those targets, they get a seriously chunky fine. That rule has affected the Suzuki Swift Sport.

Back in 2020, Suzuki’s average CO2 was too high. First up was the dramatic and upsetting news for car lovers everywhere that the beloved Jimny would be axed. The rest of the Suzuki range then got a mild-hybrid boost, including the Suzuki Swift Sport.

It now has a 48V Integrated Starter Generator and a 48V lithium-ion battery, which does make a bit of a difference to those all-important CO2 figures, and a little boost to performance.

The ‘old’ Suzuki Swift Sport was already in warm hatch territory, rather than hot hatch, and that’s still the case with the ‘new’ Suzuki Swift Sport.

The 1.4-litre turbocharged Boosterjet engine is a little less powerful – it now has 129 horsepower at 5,500rpm rather than the 140 horsepower of the pre-mild-hybrid model, but does produce more torque: 173lb ft compared to 170lb ft. While the mild-hybrid system gives a boost of 13 horsepower and 39lb ft of torque, it does also weigh 50kg more than before, slipping over the 1,000kg mark at 1,025kg.

You don’t really feel that extra 50kg though. The official 0-62mph time is a slightly sluggish 9.1 seconds, but I’ve definitely achieved it in less than that. It feels nimble, keen and fun. Maximum torque is there from 2,000rpm, and you get enough shove from the 1,500rpm mark. The engine loves to rev, and you’ll easily find yourself bouncing up to the redline at 6,000rpm.

The six-speed manual gearbox is great, with well-spaced ratios and an accurate throw, and you feel really confident with the brakes. They’re not as big as some hot hatches out there, but with the Swift Sport weighing so little, they’re more than up to the job. Speaking of braking, it might take a little while to get used to how much the mild-hybrid system slows the car down when you come off the accelerator to recharge those batteries. That can be really useful on steep hills and the like though, where you don’t have to change down gears or sit on your brakes.

If you’re pushing it, you can get some decent cornering speed. Turning in, there’s a bit more lean than you’d get from the likes of the Fiesta ST or the Civic Type R (to be expected!), but it’s still poised and you can have plenty of fun on a decent road. The steering is light but quite direct, although there is a bit of a numb spot when you first turn the wheel.

The suspension is firm and mostly does a good job of absorbing lumps and bumps, but on crappy bashed-up road surfaces, you do really feel it and hear some rattling in the cabin. It deals with speed bumps and the like well though.

A Ford Fiesta ST is more fun, and not that much more expensive, and a VW Up GTI will give you more lols for less money, but if you’re not looking for blistering hot hatch speed and handling, and want an alternative to the usuals, do take a look at the Suzuki Swift Sport before you make your decision.

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Comments (3)

  • Underrated unsung hero!

      1 month ago
  • Thanks for reminding us about Suzuki. It's always about Honda, Toyota and Nissan when it comes to Japanese performance. And Subaru too...

      1 month ago
  • Bring back the Gti.

      1 month ago