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Suzuki Swift Sport 2019 review

It's simple, almost '80s idea. Get a bigger engine meant to propel an SUV and put it in a car that weighs less than a tonne.
EXPERT RATING
7.5
It's the last Japanese hot hatch in its segment, but is it half-baked? We find out.

It’s a novel idea. You start with a simple mass-market hatchback base, then you throw a bigger turbocharged engine (literally from an SUV) in, give it some upgrades so it’s not totally unwieldy and call it a day.

It seems like an obvious and easy move to appeal to enthusiasts, yet the rest of the Japanese automakers, still reeling from the country’s long and painful economic stagnation, instead provide play-it-safe semi-luxury halo variants for their small hatch ranges.

Suzuki’s going hard on fun-factor as a point of difference though, and the brand delivers with cars like the wacky new Jimny 4x4 and the car reviewed here, the long-running Suzuki Swift Sport.

It’s the last Japanese hot-hatch in this segment, but is it as much fun as it looks? I spent a week in one to find out.

Suzuki Swift 2019: Sport
Safety rating
Engine Type1.4L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.1L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$27,490

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

Our Swift Sport was a manual which comes in, before on-roads, at $25,490. There’s no denying that’s a lot of cash for a hatch this size. Top models from traditional Japanese rivals include the Mazda2 (Genki, $21,140), Toyota Yaris (ZR, 22,670) and Honda Jazz (VTi-L, $22,990), all of which are significantly cheaper.

None have a 1.4-litre turbo engine from an SUV though… In fact, the closest you can get to a true competitor for the Swift Sport is the Kia Rio GT-Line which has similar sporty styling and packs a 1.0-litre turbo three-cylinder engine.

The Swift Sport comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped with aggressive rubber, a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, built-in sat-nav, full LED front lighting (auto headlights, DRLS and fog-lamps), carbon-fibre trim highlights, bucket seats for front occupants, a D-shaped leatherbound steering wheel, keyless entry, and push-start ignition.

The Sport's additions certainly give it a dose of visual flair over the standard Swift range. (image credit: Tom White) The Sport's additions certainly give it a dose of visual flair over the standard Swift range. (image credit: Tom White)

Phew, that’s a lot of kit. The Swift Sport also has all of the safety refinements available elsewhere in the Swift range, read more about that in the safety section of this review.

Suzuki has also re-worked the suspension just for this model and offers either the six-speed manual (as tested here) or a six-speed torque converter auto (good riddance to the last-generation’s CVT) which comes at a $2000 premium.

The multimedia system is rudimentary, but comes with everything you'll need. (image credit: Tom White) The multimedia system is rudimentary, but comes with everything you'll need. (image credit: Tom White)

So, it’s pricier than its competitors, but it’s also more powerful than all of them, has more visual flair and is just as well, if not better equipped. Sure, it’s a choice to buy this over a larger hatch in the segment above, but at least you’re not getting short-changed.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Doesn’t this car look like fun? It has all the cutesy-charm of the regular Swift range, but adds a bunch of aggression into the mix, courtesy of a wider, chunkier front bumper, LED light clusters that look almost like the ones off the Jaguar F-Type, huge alloy wheels, and dual-exhaust ports sticking out the back.

Chunky guards, a euro-inspired roofline and alloy wheels add to the aggression. (image credit: Tom White) Chunky guards, a euro-inspired roofline and alloy wheels add to the aggression. (image credit: Tom White)

This car absolutely owns the 'Champion Yellow' colour it's painted in, which really brings the most out of the black highlights on the bumpers and through the window-line.

Touches like the integrated rear door handles, little roof-spoiler sticking out the back, and the Swift’s signature convex windscreen add a certain polish to the little car’s design. Top models of competitors just don’t have anywhere near the presence of the Sport.

Inside, the Sport has a fair amount of visual flair added, with a solid set of logo-embossed bucket seats, a D-shaped steering wheel which is vaguely reminiscent of an Audi helm and a simple, but effective silver dash cluster.

The interior looks the part, but is mainly made up of nasty plastics. (image credit: Tom White) The interior looks the part, but is mainly made up of nasty plastics. (image credit: Tom White)

The Sport gains a few extra features for its screen embedded between the dials, with fun read-outs for turbo pressure, G-force, and power/torque graphs.

The rest of the dash is comprised of the same cheap plastics as the rest of the Swift range, so don’t expect it to be any better to the touch. I’m also not totally sold on the red highlights strewn about seemingly for the sake of it. The gloss finish on them (and some other surfaces) looks naff.

How practical is the space inside?   6/10

The Swift Sport is a front-occupant focused affair. The driver benefits from a telescopic steering adjust and the front seats grant awesome legroom and excellent bolstering in the corners thanks to their bucket design.

They’re even spongey and supportive for comfort, clad in a sensible synthetic weave, and sit low for a decent driving position. Front occupants also get the lion’s share of what little cabin storage is on offer, with cupholders in the doors, a trench under the dash and the glove box.

Rear passengers get next to nothing. The seat across the back appears to be a single piece of foam with next to no contouring, there are small bottle holders in the doors and an odd little trench between the front seats for belongings. To rub it in, the window line is pretty high, and headroom is limited courtesy of the sloped roofline.

The back seat is... basic. (image credit: Tom White) The back seat is... basic. (image credit: Tom White)

The media system is a tad clunky, but you can remedy that with phone mirroring, and for some reason the reversing camera is super bright, with the glare making it tough to peer into wing mirrors for maneuvering at night.

Visibility is excellent out the front, but the large C-pillar makes for a bit of a rear thee-quarter blind-spot.

The boot is a sad state of affairs, and a consistent Swift weak point. At 265 litres it’s outplayed by almost every segment rival, except for the Mazda2. Unlike the Kia Rio, even putting the rear seats down offers a surprisingly limited amount of space.

A major Swift downside... The boot is tiny. (image credit: Tom White) A major Swift downside... The boot is tiny. (image credit: Tom White)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

I adore the simplicity behind this. The Swift Sport has a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine dropped pretty much straight out of the Vitara Turbo.

For that, the little (and normally sub-85kW) Swift gets boosted to 103kW/230Nm. Those aren’t huge power figures, sure, but the Swift is light at just 970kg.

Just put a big engine in... why not! (image credit: Tom White) Just put a big engine in... why not! (image credit: Tom White)

To me, the Swift Sport scores bonus points for still being offered with a six-speed manual transmission – an enthusiast’s delight.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

The Swift Sport has a claimed/combined fuel consumption figure of 6.1L/100km and after a week of thoroughly enjoying the manual transmission, I was very surprised to have produced 6.4L/100km.

On my last test of the Sport I scored 8.0L/100km for some reason, so expect that number to vary if you drive it like it wants to be driven every day.

I returned much lower fuel usage figures than last time I drove the Swift Sport. (image credit: Tom White) I returned much lower fuel usage figures than last time I drove the Swift Sport. (image credit: Tom White)

Those numbers might be slightly higher than some competitors, but I can tell you the fun-factor more than makes up for it.

On the downside, you’ll have to fill it up with mid-grade 95 RON fuel.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

You can buy faster cars than the Swift Sport, but would you really be getting best bang for buck? Consider this, with the Swift Sport, you can extract almost every last bit of fun this car has to offer as you drive it around each and every day, all without breaking the law.

It’s just formulated to make mundane days plodding around low-speed-limited streets put a smile on your face. The engine surges to life, the wheels chirp off the line, and before you know it your shooting through the gears, weaving between slow goers, but it’s all to scale. You can do it all while staying inside the speed limits.

It never gets old either, despite having this car on test three times in the last year I still get a sense of adolescent irresponsibility every time I lay eyes on it with the keys in my hand.

I said this when I first reviewed the Swift Sport, but it’s all the hot hatch most buyers will ever really need. Sure, you can spend more and get higher performance out of true Euro hot hatches this size like the Peugeot 208 GTi (RIP) and Renault Clio RS, but you’ll need to hit the track to really test their limits.

Plus, the Swift is a more compliant daily driver. The suspension has been re-worked over the regular Swift range to make it more confident around the corners, but it hasn’t been made so stiff you cringe when you spot an approaching pothole too late.

And the steering has been smartly engineered to stiffen up when there’s a chance of torque steer - keeping the wheels pointing in the right direction, and the manual gearbox is forgiving in traffic.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The Swift Sport comes with the full comprehensive safety suite available on the Swift GLX Turbo below it.

Active items include auto emergency braking (AEB, yes – even in the manual), adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning (LDW), and something called ‘Weaving Alert’ (which seems to go nuts when it thinks you’re about to lose traction or hit a parked car).

Even the manual Sport gets a camera-based AEB system. (image credit: Tom White) Even the manual Sport gets a camera-based AEB system. (image credit: Tom White)

There’s no blind spot monitoring (BSM), lane keep assist (LKAS), torque vectoring, or traffic sign recognition (TSR).

It’s not the most comprehensive suite on the market, but it is excellent for this class.

Outside of that you get six airbags, auto high-beam, a reversing camera (but no sensors), two ISOFIX child-seat mounting points in the rear, and three top-tethers.

All current Swift variants, including the Sport carry a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating awarded in June 2017.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   6/10

All Swifts are covered by a five-year/140,000km warranty, but it’s conditional on you sticking to Suzuki’s rather annoying and expensive six-monthly/10,000km service intervals through its dealer network.

If you skip a service, or take your car somewhere else, the warranty is just three years.

The Swift has a conditional five-year warranty. (image credit: Tom White) The Swift has a conditional five-year warranty. (image credit: Tom White)

Service costs are fixed and come in at a total cost of $2362 over the life of the five year warranty, comprised of services costing between $175 and $399.

Verdict

The Suzuki Swift Sport puts fun first, and at a reasonable price, too.

You can spend less and get something more suited to a small family, or you can spend more to get track-ready performance, but the Sport gives you something else. It gives you a big, stupid, adolescent smile on your face every damn day. Even in your work commute. And really, that’s where its true value lies.

Will the Swift Sport be putting a big, dumb smile on your face? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$21,740
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$15,990
Highest Price
$27,490

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Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GL 1.2L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $15,990 2019 Suzuki Swift 2019 GL Pricing and Specs
GL (QLD) 1.2L, ULP, CVT AUTO $16,990 2019 Suzuki Swift 2019 GL (QLD) Pricing and Specs
GL NAVI 1.2L, ULP, CVT AUTO $18,690 2019 Suzuki Swift 2019 GL NAVI Pricing and Specs
GL NAVI (QLD) 1.2L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $16,990 2019 Suzuki Swift 2019 GL NAVI (QLD) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality6
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Driving8
Safety8
Ownership6
Tom White
Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$25,490

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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