Suzuki Swift Sport 1.4 Boosterjet
The Suzuki Swift Sport has always aimed to offer cheap thrills. The latest edition sees a significant increase in its price point, due to the revised engine and equipment. But in doing so it loses its bargain status. That being said, the Swift Sport is full of character, comes loaded with equipment and provides some eye raising economy stats. It’s still lively, nimble, and great fun to drive too.
The previous Suzuki Swift Sport received one key criticism, that it looked too much like a stock Swift. So, have Suzuki addressed the haters? From first glances at the new one, it would appear so.
So, what’s different you ask? To the front you’ll find an aggressive carbon-effect bumper, along with two LED running day-time lights. The front end is rather small, but that’s to highlight how light and nimble the Swift Sport is.
To the side you’ll find lowered skirts, leading to a more profound wheel arch. The rear bumper looks like it has done a few squats at the gym, making the car appear wider in stance. Again, splashed with some rather convincing carbon-effect plastics.
To spice things up, Suzuki has thrown dual exhaust tailpipes either side of the rear bumper. But don’t be fooled by their appearance, the sound is virtually non-existent… more on that a bit later.
A rear spoiler finishes off a pretty sporty appearance. The Swift Sport sits on top of 17-inch black/polished alloy wheels.
Our test car was finished in a rather striking ‘Champion Yellow’ which certainly makes you stand out from the crowd. We think it suited the Swift Sport, being fun is what it’s all about. And nothing says ‘not serious’ like bright yellow!
Jump inside the Swift Sport and you’ll realise that it’s not all stock again, winning!! Inside you’re first drawn towards the red detailing throughout the front dash. The detailing continues that ‘sporty’ feeling from the exterior. It serves to remind you that this is no standard Swift.
The general finish of the interior is on a par with other Suzuki models. Functional, yes, but not of the level of quality and finish found with the market leaders. That being said, there are some soft-touch plastics around that red detailing, which is great to see.
The Swift Sport comes with bucket seats, embossed with the ‘Sport’ logo in the centre. The seats are most certainly bolstered, keeping all your body parts in place when cornering. The only downside with the seats is the material, a little bit cheap to touch. That said, they are comfortable to sit on during longer drives.
Up front, you’ll find the usual equipment in its logical place. There’s a 7-inch infotainment screen in the middle of the dash. The driver gets a little multi-function screen between the dials. This details the car’s performance and figures. You can also change the display to show a G-force reading, cool hey!
So here is where the old car got interesting. The previous model featured a 1.6 litre petrol engine developing 135 PS. It was a fun, revvy engine and made the car a bargain given its price point.
For 2018, Suzuki have changed the recipe book and thrown in a slightly more powerful 1.4 litre turbocharged petrol engine. The new engine serves a modest 140 PS, but a large increase in torque to 230Nm.
Although only a slight increase in power over the previous model, it feels a lot more from behind the wheel. With the old car being naturally-aspirated, you really had to work the 6-speed gearbox hard. Only when you pushed to the very limits did it have real urgency. Now though, the Swift Sport picks up at pretty much any revs, making it feel so much livelier and nippy.
The Swift Sport can shift from 0-62 mph in 8.1 seconds. Not exactly hot hatch you could argue, but quick enough to be described as ‘warm’ for sure.
However, you’d be surprised once you’re behind the wheel. Due to the Swift Sports weight, and that increase in torque, the car really shifts. In fact, I’d like to think that the official 0-62 time is beatable…
The only other thing to note, is the lack of engine noise from the engine and exhausts. To be honest, you can hear the morning birds tweeting over the noise this car makes, most disappointing for an otherwise lively and exciting car to drive.
I’ve mentioned a few times that the Swift Sport has been to the gym and shredded some weight. So how much has it actually lost? 70 kg to be exact, taking the car down to a mere 975 kg. For a modern car packed with safety technology that’s utterly remarkable.
The engineers at Suzuki have also played around with the rear of the car, designing a new rear trailing arms to reduce body roll and increase stability. Tided with the drop-in body weight and the car is a dream to drive in the corners.
Once you’ve come to grips with the car, the Suzuki screams to turn in late, and you can be as aggressive as you fancy. Most corners can be taken at a higher gear that what you’d expect. The front-axle likes to grab onto any corner and the body won’t roll as weight is none existent.
What this means is that you can drive the car like the clappers at any speed. If you’re driving in a 30 zone, why not take all the corners at 30?
However, there are some caveats. Suzuki may have diligently hollowed the steering rack to save weight but it’s brought some pitfalls. The steering is light on feel but artificially heavy when under load, and it can feel rather confusing.
To top it off the six-speed manual gear box is nothing to shout about. It’s rather notchy, and doesn’t have the rugged, tight nit feeling that a sporty car should have. It’s disappointing, and takes the edge off an exciting driving experience.
Surprisingly, despite the increase in performance, the new Swift Sport boasts improved economy and emissions. Officially the new car can do a combined run of 47.1 mpg, whilst only emitting 135g/km of CO2. To be honest, we can vouch for the official figures being attainable too. The Swift Sport hardly eats fuel, like it’s on a crash diet.
And the crash diet is most likely part of the answer. One of the biggest factors to kill economy is weight. So by making the new Swift Sport lighter, Suzuki has improved its efficiency potential.
The improvements are down to Suzuki’s new line of ‘boosterjet’ engines. Adding a turbo-charger can mean a smaller, lighter engine which will boost economy without hindering performance.
To be frank, this isn’t a sporty car that’s going to burn a hole in your pocket. So that surely a good thing, right?
One point to note. The previous Swift Sport was more consistent with its economy return, even when driving in a more spirited fashion. The downside of the new car, as with any turbo car, is that the more aggressive you are with the throttle, you’ll notice that economy slipping away.
Ok, so at one time a small ‘warm’ hatch wouldn’t be expected to score well in practicality. But these days we’re seeing more practical small hatches, so it’s becoming another requirement for any car.
The 2018 model has a fractionally longer wheelbase compared to its predecessor. In summary, that means more interior and boot space. The Swift Sport now comes only as a 5-door. The rear door handles are hidden, to minimise the visual impact of the rear doors. It’s especially hilarious when your wife tries to tilt the front seat as she didn’t see the rear doors!
Space in the rear is also pretty generous, so fitting four adults in the car wouldn’t be a problem for shorter journeys. Unless you’re all 6ft5in (thankfully we’re not!). The driving position is spot on, and the seat can be easily adjusted to suit.
Round to the back, the boot has been increased by 54 litres to 265 litres. That might sound like an impressive increase, but most rivals reach well above 300 litres. The opening of the boot is good, and allows good usability. The rear 60:40 splitting seats can increase the overall capacity to 579 litres for larger items.
As we’ve all come to know with the Japanese, they love to give you a lot of kit for you’re money. Given the base price of the Suzuki Swift Sport, it must be a big list?
We’ll the answer is a certain yes! Suzuki include LED front and rear lights, keyless entry and go, a 7-inch sat-nav touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. All the equipment you need for your in car entertainment; DAB radio, USB, Aux connection and Bluetooth. A reversing camera, electric and heated door mirrors.
You’ll also be surprised that the list doesn’t stop there, The Swift Sport includes a significant amount of safety equipment. Suzuki have thrown in an advanced forward detection system to reduce the likelihood of a front collision. Adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, ‘weaving alert’ function and a high-beam assist.
As you can probably tell, we are mightily impressed with the level of equipment on off. However, it does come at a cost, and that cost is the price (but we’ll come onto that shortly). The key thing to note, is that everything you see here, comes as standard.
Value For Money
As you’ve probably gathered throughout this review, the Suzuki Swift Sport is a bit of an eye raiser. The car comes in at £17,999, and whilst you can add some optional extras these are minimal cost and relate to just cosmetic features.
The key thing that stood out, was the price of the previous Swift Sport. It was a fun family hatchback, that came in under £14,000. These days you can’t get much car for that price.
So why the sudden jump in price? That’s largely down to the ‘BoosterJet’ engine hidden under the bonnet. Turbocharged engines require a more complex manufacturing process, and costs therefore go up! But turbocharged engines have become a necessity to drive down CO2 emissions and improve economy. There is a global trend for downsizing and turbocharging.
The new Swift Sport also has a more comprehensive equipment list, particularly to ensure the new Swift Sport is as safe as can be. So a price rise to facilitate this was inevitable.
So, loosing the cheap price point means the Suzuki Swift Sport starts to compete against some of the proper hot hatches. The one that stands out for us is the all new Ford Fiesta ST which comes in at £19,125. All things considering, we know which one we would be choosing. You may not get the same kit, but you’d get 200PS, a more focused drive and undoubtedly better residuals.
However, taking a step back, there is clear promise with the Swift Sport. You can only appreciate the drive and fun factor once you’ve sat behind the wheel; it oozes charm. There is so much equipment up its sleeves, and economy is rather surprising for a car in its class. All in a car weighing less than a tonne… bravo Suzuki.
Facts and Figures
|Engine||1.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Max power||140PS at 5,500rpm|
|Max torque||230Nm at 2,500-3,500rpm|
|Drivetrain||6-speed manual gearbox, front-wheel drive|
|Fuel tank size||37 litres|
|Fuel consumption||47.1 mpg, combined cycle|
|CO2 emissions||135 g/km|
|Kerb weight||975 kg|
|Luggage capacity||265 litres|
|NCAP rating||3 stars|
|Price as tested||£17,999|