Here are no two concepts more easily and regularly confused in the automotive arena than ‘fun’ and ‘fast’. few cars illustrate this point better than the Suzuki Swift Sport.
Despite the name, this Swift is not swift at all. the performance it extracts from its 1.6-litre engine is very similar to that offered by a Peugeot 205Gti with the same-sized motor 28 years ago.
But by getting back to basics Suzuki has created a car offering more driving pleasure than you’d find in many an alleged hot hatch costing twice as much again. there’s no clever
technology on this car, just the sensible application of tuning techniques tried and tested over decades. Compared with the previous Swift Sport, the engine has high-lift camshafts, a sixth gear ratio and subtly but thoroughly up-rated suspension.
So now the engine breathes better at the top end and can be kept there by its more closely stacked gear ratios. Suzuki claims it’s 20 per cent quicker to react to the helm and I’ll testify that when it does, it’s even more neutral in its reactions. It’s dangerous to evoke comparisons with the incomparable 205Gti, but if it had a 21st century spiritual successor, this would be it.
But where Suzuki has been really clever is to retain enough civility to make the Swift a pleasant companion over longer distances. that sixth gear knocks all the buzz out of the engine at a steady cruise, while the suspension has been kept sufficiently pliant for the ride to remain acceptable most of the time.
There’s a lot to be learned from this car. it may not have much absolute performance, or indeed outright grip, but all that means is that its fun is provided at more legal speeds. At its £13,500 price point its ability to blend practicality and fun puts in it a league of its own.
ENGINE: 1.6 litres, four cylinders, petrol
TOP SPEED: 121mph
POWER: 134bhp at 7000rpm
FUEL/CO2: 44.1mpg, 147g/km