This can be an angry, hot and sweaty little car in the right hands. Photo Gallery
Neil Dowling road tests and reviews the Suzuki Swift Sport with specs, fuel economy and verdict.
Char-grilled hatchbacks are more fun than a stick and almost as cheap. However, some people get personal joy in wringing the neck of small engines in little hatchbacks.
Fortunately, since the 1970s kickstart of the Peugeot 205 GTI and Volkswagen Golf GTI, there's still a string of car makers willing to pump out a line of cars once called hot hatches, now more like toasted on the grill. Suzuki - like Daihatsu, Nissan and Toyota - has played the game before.
Only one of these is still on the field. Now, after a 12-month hiatus which saw off its six-year Swift Sport model, Suzuki is back with a new engine, a new look and a competitive mid-$20K price.
Okay - so any lines blurred between a Polo GTI and a Swift Sport should be clarified immediately. The Swift Sport is a punchier version of the endearing Swift shopping trolley.
It gets a bigger engine, bodykit, neat alloy whe els and lots of features inside. At $23,990 as a manual, its purity as a small hatch insists that it refuse any options. The auto - a CVT unit - is $2000 more.
Value rates well with standard keyless entry and start, Bluetooth, cruise control, USB port for the six-speaker audio, bi-xenon headlights and sports seats with red stitching.
The Sport picks up the new body which looks like the old body shape, making its presence known with a yawning grille, bi-xenon headlights, side skirts, deep front spoiler and integrated roof spoiler. It sits 120mm longer than the old Sport but its rounded body still looks like the winner of a baking competition. But it defies its stumpy exterior with a roomy cabin for four adults.
Seats are black cloth with red trim and are really comfortable and suppportive while the hard-plastic, satin-finish dash implies low-rent but actually looks good. The boot is tiny but the near-flat, fold-down rear seats create a versatile hauler.
The previous S port exited Australia in January 2011 as a 92kW/148Nm 1.6-litre hatchback with one gearbox - a five-speed manual - within its distinctive snail-like shell. Now there's a new engine based on the standard Swift's 1.4-litre mill but with 100kW/160Nm - that's a weight to power ratio of 10.6 kg/kW, making it outgun the old Swift GTi.
Suzuki made the car bigger but shaved 30kg from the final weight, upping its zip factor while trimming fuel thirst back to 6.5 L/100km from 7.3 L/100km. Sport gets tripl e-synchromesh on frist and second gear cogs, firmer suspension, bigger 17-inch alloys and a tighter steering feel as part of its mechanical armament.
For a small car the Swift Sport packs an impressive safety kit. There's a five-star crash rating, electronic stability control, seven airbags and all the electronic brake aids. The bi-xenon headlights make night driving some much easier but the lack of a spare wheel - there's some aerosol goo and a compressor in the emty wheel well - limits the Swift's range.
This can be an angry, hot and sweaty little car in the right hands. It has so much pluck that it will almost burst its little heart trying to please the driver. Yes, the Sport can be work - sometimes hard work - but the reward is letting it get under your skin and to drive it like it was an extension of your body.
Big surprises are the willingness of the engine to run cleanly and eagerly to 7000rpm, the extra kick from the engine at 5500rpm, the almost hydraulic feel of the electric steering system and the ride comfort despite the low-profile 17-inch rubbers.
The keyless start button, the encompassing driver's seat, the small-diameter leather-bound steering wheel and the superbly bright headlights provide the theatre. Gee, it almost feels like an early Golf GTI. Almost.
A sparkling hatch for enthusiastic motorists divided between commuting and weekend fangs while being acutely aware of the need to retain their licence.
Suzuki Swift Sport
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Resale: 58 per cent
Service interval: 15,000km/12 months
Safety rating: Five star
Spare: aerosol repair kit
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl petrol 100kW/160Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual; FWD
Body: 3.9m (L); 1.7m (w); 1.5m (h)
Thirst: 6.5 1/100km; 98 RON; 153g/km Co2
Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo - compare this car
Engine: 1.2-litre, 4-cyl turbo-petrol, 77kW/175Nm
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front drive
Body: 5-door hatchback
Thirst: 7.9L/100km, 91 RON, CO2 185g/km
Peugeot 207 XT - compare this car
Engine: 1.6-litre, 4-cyl petrol, 88kW/160Nm
Transmission: 5-spd manual, front drive
Body: 5-door hatchback
Thirst: 6.1L/100km, 95 RON, CO2 141g/km
Volkswagen Polo GTI - compare this car
Engine: 1.4-litre, 4-cyl turbo/supercharged, 132kW/250Nm
Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch, front drive
Body: 5-door hatchback
Thirst: 6.1L/100km, 95 RON, CO2 142g/km