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A JOLLY GOOD SPORT (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Suzuki's Swift Sport is the unrecognised hero of the warm hatch sector. The latest MK3 model looks to earn some belated recognition. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 92
The Suzuki Swift Sport has long been a car embraced by serious drivers who know a great handling hot hatch when they see it. Though not especially powerful, it's agile, chuckable and brilliant fun for not a lot of money. Few potential buyers know this, so the idea with this third generation model is to widen its appeal with a smarter interior, lower running costs, a little more grunt and even sharper handling. For all that, it'll still be a well-kept secret in this segment, but one loyal buyers will enjoy hugely.
Backgroundword count: 158
I remember when Hot Hatches weren't all about power. You had a simple, revvy, normally aspirated engine and there was certainly no need to fuss about with extra go-faster gadgetry. Four-wheel drive, trick diffs, double-clutch gearboxes, electronic stability systems - all very nice but all there to add weight and cost to what ought to be a simple, inexpensive formula. You might think that it's too late to turn the clock back in this segment - but Suzuki doesn't, delivering us this car, the third generation Swift Sport. This is one of the best-kept secrets in GTi motoring, modestly powered perhaps but modestly weighted too, which means it can routinely put the wind up far more exalted machinery. Well over 6,000 Swift Sports already pound UK roads, almost all owned by people who wouldn't give any thanks at all for an offer of trading their car against a pricier, pokier warmed-up Fiesta, Corsa or any other shopping rocket.
Driving Experienceword count: 211
The Swift Sport has never been about pure power. Suzuki could easily shoehorn a 200bhp engine into the thing if it pleased, but that would just make it uninsurable for younger drivers. Instead, and rather sensibly, engine power has been modest, the latest car massaging peak horsepower up from the old car's 134bhp to a still distinctly manageable 138bhp. More important is the news that to achieve this, the old normally aspirated 1.6 has been replaced by a lighter and more efficient 1.4-litre Boosterjet turbo unit. Straight line performance improves marginally and there's 70Nm more torque (230Nm of it), but Suzuki has devoted much of their attention - and rightly so - to developing the Swift's chassis dynamics so it offers even more poise and control. The suspension set-up has been completely revised in a bid to offer greater driving stability, optimized roll rigidity, and improved dynamic response. And it's all bolted to the much stiffer, lighter 'HEARTECT' platform that underpins the ordinary Swift model. There's a total kerb weight of just 970kgs. To give you some perspective on that, a rival Renaultsport Clio 200 EDC weighs over 200kgs. Which is why this Suzuki can match the performance of that Renault, despite offering considerably less power. Have cake; eat it. Simple.
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