Suzuki Swift Sport 5-door Review – Budget-Buy Hot-Hatch Is Well Worth Your Money

Neat styling, lovely rev-happy engine, great handling, superbly priced

Road noise through low-profile tyres is noticable, no option for sat nav or heated seats

Suzuki Swift?

Suzuki Swift Sport

The Swift was never a cool car, by any stretch of the imagination. The Eighties saw wedge-shaped ugliness, and from 200 – 2004 the Swift (or Ignis) was a boxy shape with a nondescript design. Okay if you wanted to get from A to B, but you’d have to be entirely disinterested in cars to own one. The elderly were often seen driving them – this is a fact. 2004 – 2012 saw a couple of new generations of Swift, which looked far more modern and appealing, especially to younger drivers, while this latest 2013 incarnation has had yet another facelift to make it look even better.

The Swift appeals on two levels now; low-cost motoring for those on a budget, and a neat design that’ll appeal to all ages. They even make a 4×4 version of it too. However, we were here to test and review the hot hatch version; the Suzuki Swift Sport. Is it possible to make a budget ‘hatch that’ll bear this revered title though? Let’s find out…

Exterior. Butt-ugly or beauty?

Suzuki Swift Sport test review

Clap eyes on the Suzuki Swift Sport, and in an instant, a message will go from them to your brain, and into your mind will pop the word ‘FUN’. Yes, the Swift Sport is actually a great-looking little hatchback, that’ll make you want to jump in, turn off the traction control, and go for a burn down some windy bit of tarmac. Find a photo of the glaring yellow Suzuki Swift Rally car, and you’ll see there’s little difference between the road and race versions cosmetically. It’s got a tough cookie demeanour about it, this Sport version. The bodywork is tight, and the stance is Rally car-ish, as the body sits higher away from the body than expected. On some cars, that’d be a negative, but I think it suits the Sport perfectly.

Rear view of the Suzuki Swift Sport

 

Suzuki Swift Sport alloy wheels

There are only one set of allot wheels available with the Swift Sport – multi-spoke 17″ versions, and again the Rally theme continues with these. The front of the Suzuki is bold and in-your-face, with two large, black grilles, big front fog lamps and huge light clusters that are three-quarters the length of the bonnet. The wheel arches flare just enough to show it means business, while the glass in the sides appears narrower than it actually is, giving the roof a low-cut appearance – this reminds me much of the Kia Soul, which we love.

Suzuki Swift Sport

Off that, there’s the biggest standard fixed roof spoiler I’ve seen in a while, and it looks utterly audacious poking out as far as it does. No, it doesn’t care what you opinion is on spoilers either. Around to the rear, there are again enormous rear lights housings set into the Sport’s stubby backside, and there’s also a respectably large rear diffuser, home to a tail pipe sticking out each side, stating the intent of this little hot hatch. Overall, I reckon the Suzuki Swift Sport looks fantastic, and weirdly, the 5-door looks even better than the 3-door model. One thing; you must have the Sport in Boost Blue Pearl Metallic (a no-cost option) if you’re going to buy one, as it shows the bodywork off to the best effect.

Suzuki Swift Sport spoiler

 

Front view of the Suzuki Swift Sport.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

There’s little point in putting out a good-looking hot hatch, only to sully this with an interior as uninspiring as a plain beige sweater. Thankfully, the Swift Sport’s cabin is nicely in line with the exterior. There are literally zero interior options or accessories available for the Sport, which makes it refreshingly easy when choosing one. 3 or 5 doors? Five; tick. Colours; black, silver, white, blue. Blue. Tick. And that’s your car configured.

Suzuki Swift Sport front seats

Open the door, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the cabin. Sporty red stitching on the seat edges, steering wheel and gearstick gaiter stands out  sharply against the blackness of the trim, while your eye is drawn to the seats, which aren’t fully bucket-like, but have deep enough bolsters to give support and look the part.

Suzuki Swift Sport test review-0138

You’ll also see the metal sports pedals too, The front seats are snug, and would be tight on anyone on the erm… portly side. They’re comfortable though, and suit the little Swift Sport to perfection. I’ve got to mention that the front passenger seats isn’t height-adjustable, and you feel like you’re sat too high for a sporty car like this. It’s be nice in the 4×4 Swift though, but that is obvious not this.

Suzuki Swift Sport Review 2013 rear seats

The rears have more leg room than you’d think judging from the exterior, and although it’s not a car you can exactly stretch out in, I think they’d be comfortable enough. At least for the people either side, as the centre seating section has the seatbelt clips in them, so unless you’re very slim, you’ll have to endure the pain of them poking into your derriére.

Head room is respectable, and even if you were taller you’ll find it decent enough. One good point is that there are three adjustable headrests in the rear, which is good considering this is a lower-priced car.

Suzuki Swift Sport entre console

The dash, and every piece of interior trim in fact, is made of tap-hard plastics, and normally I hate that. On the Swift though, there’s a couple of things going for that, the first being that Suzuki have actually got the textures of the plastics nice enough to look good, and secondly, it’s all very put together, with zero rattles or flimsy bits. There are a few satin silver trim inserts to liven things up slightly, and these do a good job of making the car feel more grown up, and less like the first car you’d own.
Suzuki Swift Sport test review-0186

The centre console is straightforward, and the controls for the heating etc are all very much easy to use and driver-friendly, and as a bonus all the switchgear is soft-touch instead of click, giving them a more upmarket feel. The tech kit is fairly generous as standard on the Swift Sport, and you’ll get a USB socket, plus integrated bluetooth for your tunes and phone calls, electric adjustable and folding heated wing mirrors, all-round power windows, climate control, automatic HID headlights with washers, and a start/stop engine button.

Suzuki Swift Sport interior cockpit view

On that, the steering wheel is a good one. It’s smaller than the normal Swift version, and its chunkiness adds to the sporty vibe of the car. While there are controls mounted for the stereo and cruise control, they’re big, simple and very much non-distractive.

Steering wheel

The boot space looks small when you first lift the tailgate, but you can fit in more than you’d guess. There’s 211 litres seats up; good enough for a load of work gear such as boots, big fluorescent jacket, and a couple of small boxes of tools. Seats folded, you’ll have 512 litres available.

Suzuki Swift Sport Review 2013 boot space

 

Suzuki Swift Sport Review 2013 boot space wit seats folded

Safety-wise, it’s got an impressive amount of stuff, including front driver & passenger, side and curtain airbags, as well as a driver’s knee airbag too. There’s also foot-protecting brake and clutch pedals, and side impact protection beams – something Volvo brought to the fore with their SIPS version years ago. There are also driver safety aids too, but I’ll mention that in the drive section.

Overall, I like the Swift Sport interior. It’s sporty, while grown up, and there’s easily enough tech and kit to keep you happy. It’s roomy, comfortable and much better made than I thought it would be.

Engine and gearbox 

The Swift Sport has the biggest engine in the Swift range. The ‘normal’ versions have a choice of either a 1.2 litre petrol manual or auto, and a 1.3 litre diesel manual. The Sport gets a nautrally-aspirated 1.6 litre VVT petrol, 4-valve, 16-cylinder. Power isn’t huge at 136 PS @ 7,000 rpm  and 118 lb ft (160 Nm) @ 4,400 rpm, but it does means a whole heap of street-legal fun, as I shall discuss next.

Suzuki Swift Sport engine

0 – 62 mph (0 – 100 kph) is done in 8.7 seconds – probably low 8’s on a sixty run – so it’s not super-quick, but it’s absolutely respectable for a naturally-asprited car with a low price tag. Top speed is 121 mph (194 kph), but I’m guessing you’ll be very much wringing its poor neck at that.

The Sport has decent fuel economy, with quoted UK miles-per-gallon figures of; Urban: 33.6, Extra urban: 54.3 and Combined 44.1. Real-world returns will give just over 30 mpg in the city, and slightly over 40 mpg on a motorway run and around 38 mpg on a country-road run in light traffic. Official CO2 stats are 147 g/km, meaning £140 vehicle tax per year in the UK (Dec. ’13). There’s a 6-speed manual ‘box in the Swift Sport, and no auto available, but it’s a good one and the ratio’s allow for easy driving in the city, and a long enough sixth gear for comfortable motorway cruising without the engine screaming.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

Suzuki Swift Sport on the road

This car is all about the F factor. Fun. Yes, the little Swift Sport delivers happy smiles to all who decide to give it a good thrashing. So, let’s go through that before we slow it down for the boring commute home. As said, the Sport hasn’t exactly got power by the (power)boat-load, but it entirely makes up for this in that you can hammer the hell out of the little Swift without worrying about your licence being taken away.

Traction off, floor the accelerator to bring the revs high, clutch out, and the Swift leaps forward eagerly, smoke trailing from the tyres and the rev-happy engine singing away gleefully. This is hooniganism at its best, and the Suzuki Swift Sport completely encourages this sort of behaviour. With the maximum 136 horsepower at 7,000 rpm, it’s a case of foot the floor through each gear to extract every ounce available. On your favourite stretch of winding country-road tarmac though, you nail the Swift’s throttle, look down at the speedometer, and you’ll still be within the limit. Useable power, see.

Two photos of the Suzuki Swift Sport being driven on a country road

Monroe shockers are now used, and the Suzuki engineers have set the car’s handling up brilliantly. For this new 2013 Swift Sport, they’ve done a load of updates to the chassis and suspension, even having specific tyres made for the 17″ alloys. It all leads to this being a fabulous-handling hatchback.

Chuck it around the twisties with vigour, and it’ll rewards you will a planted ride and superb grip, with very little lean to worry about. At just 1,045 kilo’s (2,303 lbs) the Swift Sport is a light car, and it shows. Dive quickly into a sharp bend before getting on the brakes hard, drop the gearstick a couple of cogs, swing the Sport round, tyres screeching their protest, before punching the accelerator to the floor and ramming each gear home precisely at the high-end of the rev-counter, and you’ll find the pleasure of driving has suddenly, and rather joyously, returned. And all without doing licence-losing speeds too!

Driving the Suzuki Swift Sport

Back to that boring commute though. What’s the Swift Sport like to live with day-to-day? That sporty suspension doesn’t actually transmit to a harsh ride at lower speeds, and instead it flows surprisingly decently over potholes, poor road surfaces and speed humps. The clutch and gear change is light and easy, while electronic power steering keep it light for manoeuvring in heavy traffic.

Suzuki Swift Sport gear stick

Dash on the Suzuki Swift sport

Suzuki say they’ve done a lot to make noise levels lower for the 2013 model, and certainly it doesn’t feel like you’re sat in a tin can, as some of the older cars did. Sure, it’s not got a Jaguar-like low-noise refinement level, but then you’d not expect that. However, it’s quiet enough on the road for my liking, and wind-noise is kept down well at motorway speeds. What is noticeable, especially on sections of concrete motorway (rather than tarmac), is the high level of sound coming from the low-profile tyres into the cabin. It’s not irritatingly loud, but it’s something that tends to plague these small hatchbacks with their rubber-band tyres – the Skoda Fabia vRS being another example. Definitely it’s note-worthy, and make sure you get a high-speed run should you test-drive one.

Suzuki Swift Sport test review-0280

Even though it’s at the cheaper end of the market, the Swift still has good driver safety aids, which include ABS with EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) and Brake Assist, plus ESP (Electronic Stability Program), and there’s also a 5-star Euro NCAP rating for the last model, so this one should be the same, if not better.

Suzuki Swift Sport kicking up gravel.

Price

The Suzuki Swift Sport has just two prices, as there’s nothing to option; £13,749 for the 3-door, and £14,249 for the 5-door. I think that’s a very fair price. You’re getting a surprisingly well-specced car for that, with all the comfort stuff you need on board, and it’s a well built car overall.

Let’s see what the hot hatches the competition offers with that sort of spec and speed. The Volkswagen Polo BlueGT 3-door starts at over £17,500 (> 62 mph: 7.9 sec’s), a Citroen DS3 VTi 120 manual style for £15,300 (> 62 mph: 9.9 sec’s), a Vauxhall Corsa SRi 1.4i VVT Turbo 120 PS for £16,400 (> 60 mph: 10.3 sec’s), a Ford Fiesta Titanium 1.0T EcoBoost 125 PS manual a snip over £16,000 (> 60 mph: 9.4 sec’s). So there you have it – the Suzuki Swift Sport is cheaper than the competition, and quicker too, unless you pay £3,500 – £4,000 more.

Suzuki Swift Sport verdict & score

Suzuki Swift Sport

I like the Swift Sport. It’s an honest little car at a very tempting price. It comes with a good amount of kit and safety tech, the engine is a rev-happy thing with enough get-up-and-go to easily rival the competition, and the handling does not lack in the sporty department either. It’s also well built, and it drives comfortably and reassuredly. Just because there’s a low price attached to the Swift Sport, it doesn’t mean you’re getting low quality. Is this the beginnings of Suzuki becoming a better car manufacturer in people’s minds? I certainly think so. Do you own a Suzuki Swift Sport? What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  8
Interior  7.5
Engine  7
Gearbox  7
Price  8.5
Drive & ride  8
Overall Score  7.5 / 10 

  Specs

Model (as tested)  2013 Suzuki Swift Sport 5-door
Spec includes  Sport as standard: Sports seats, 17″ alloys, ABS with EBD, Brake Assist, ESP, front/side/curtain/driver’s knee airbags, cruise control, bluetooth & USB, HID auto lights, electric heated wing mirrors etc See specs for more
Options you should spec  Boost Blue Pearl Metallic paint (same price as others)
The Competition  Volkswagen Polo BlueGT 3-door, Citroen DS3 VTi 120 manual, Vauxhall Corsa SRi 1.4i VVT Turbo 120 PS, Ford Fiesta Titanium 1.0T EcoBoost 125 PS manual
Price  (Dec. ’13) 3-door: £13,749 / 5-door: £14,249
Engine  1.6 VVT, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, naturally-aspirated
Power, Torque, CO2  136 PS @ 7,000 rpm  and 118 lb ft (160 Nm) @ 4,400 rpm | CO2: 147 g/km
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Front wheel drive | 6-speed manual
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 121 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 8.7 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: 5-stars
Fuel economy (UK mpg)  Combined: Urban: 33.6, Extra urban: 54.3, Combined: 44.1
Weight (kerb)  1,045 kilograms (2,303 lbs)
Websites  Suzuki Cars UK, Suzuki Global

Check out our other car reviews Words: Chris Davies | Tested by: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

2 responses to “Suzuki Swift Sport 5-door Review – Budget-Buy Hot-Hatch Is Well Worth Your Money”

  1. john parsons

    This car is good value for the spec, handles and rides well, and looks good (certainly on the outside anyway). Unfortunately it’s just gutless to drive. I really wanted to like this car, took it out several times for long test drives but it’s just like driving a regular 1.6. You don’t even feel a shove higher up in the rev range to be honest, the car just makes more noise. It’s not the 0-60 or even the bhp – its the pathetic 118lb/ft of torque, and that’s a maximum not a spread. People can go on about it being an ‘old school’ hatch and ‘all about the corners’ etc, but we’re not in the 1980s anymore.

    Sorry, but despite its looks and spec it’s not even a warm hatch imo

  2. Martin S

    John Parsons is possibly missing the point. The car has two sides. It [2016 1.6 Sport 5dr in Boost Blue] tootles to and from work looking very tidy with everything you need in a daily commute: great seats, climate control, decent space, good lights good infotainment/sat-nav and sufficient, if not excessive, power. What’s missing?
    The other side is picking it up and bringing it home from Edinburgh on the A701. John, if you can drive this car on that stretch of road between Pennycuick and Moffatt on a damp, but not raining, Saturday afternoon seeing only 3 other vehicles and not finish the journey with a silly grin on your face desperately wanting to turn around to see what it’s like going the other way: I’m afraid there is no help for you! I’m way too old to own this car – but thank God I do. It makes the dull commute almost tolerable, knowing that genuine non-licence-losing fun is just a back-road away. Go spend twice as much for a bigger, heavier, faster but less agile/nimble car if you wish – I’ll stick with my£14,500’s worth of fun.

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