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Suzuki Swift Sport 2021 review: manual

Tweaked looks and improved safety make the Series II Swift Sport.

Daily driver score

3.7/5

Urban score

3.8/5

Way back in April, Suzuki proudly announced the release of the Suzuki Swift Sport Series II. The third-generation of the plucky Japanese warm/hot hatch has never reached the heights of popularity its '90s grandfather, the Swift GTi, attained, so an update is always eagerly examined by people of a certain age.

Suzuki should really be in the box seat with this car - rivals have fallen away, with Peugeot and Renault's hot hatches gone and Ford supplying a lot of breathing room with it's brilliant, but much pricier Fiesta ST.

A close examination of the Series II reveals that not much has changed except it now has a bunch of safety tech features the little fighter has long needed to stay not only competitive, but relevant. One wonders if Suzuki is squandering an open goal...

Price and features - Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

I mention the Euro hot hatches in the same breath as the Swift Sport, but it is a mite unfair to do so. While I maintain the Suzi is about four grand too expensive, it's five grand cheaper than its remaining rival (before on-roads), the rejuvenated Fiesta ST. If Hyundai drops the i20 N at anything under $30,000, the Swift Sport is in serious bother.

The Swift Sport will set you back $26,990. The Swift Sport will set you back $26,990.

Setting all that aside, your $26,990 buys you 17-inch alloy wheels, a six-speaker stereo, climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, active cruise control, sat nav, auto LED headlights with auto high beam, auto wipers, power mirrors and windows, sports front seats, an improved safety package and a tyre repair kit.

It comes with 17-inch alloy wheels. It comes with 17-inch alloy wheels.

So, uh, not a lot for a fair bit of cash in a very small package. But second-hand values are extremely healthy, so Suzuki is doing something right.

The six speaker stereo is powered by Suzuki's standard 7.0-inch touchscreen head unit that is pretty ordinary (although better than most Toyota touchscreens) but does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The screen is a bit low-res and the colours washed out, but it's fine.

Design - Is there anything interesting about its design

The Swift's rebirth in the 2000s brought some chunk back to the small car segment. The steady evolution has led us to this iteration which is a fantastic looking machine.

The refinement of various details on the Sport has continued to improve its looks. The refinement of various details on the Sport has continued to improve its looks.

Suzuki has resisted the urge to grow the Swift too much over the years but the refinement of various details on the Sport has continued to improve its looks.

The Series II inherits the new headlights and tail-lights, of course, but also gets a shoutier grille to go with the shoutier-looking twin exhaust pipes poking out of a black apron at the rear.

The Series II inherits new headlights. The Series II inherits new headlights.

The 17s look gigantic on this tiny package, but not cartoonishly so. Basically, I'm a fan.

Apart from the cracking front seats, the cabin is basic and betrays the cheapness of the Swift's roots. You do sit a bit high in the Swift's front sports seats, but you'll no doubt get used to it.

Otherwise it's all very Suzuki, which means nothing to catch or offend the eye. It's certainly less stylish than the exterior but will probably last forever.

Practicality - How practical is the space inside?

Things aren't great in terms of storage for people and things, although the front is okay, if that makes any sense.

The front seats are very comfortable and supportive. The front seats are very comfortable and supportive.

The front seats, as I've already mentioned, are very comfortable and supportive but that's where things stop being great and dive into ho-hum.

The shallow cupholder pair in the front is all you get, with small bottle holders in each door to try and compensate. You can get a dealer-fitted armrest with some storage and I would highly recommend that. You can almost fit your phone in the shelf in the centre console, but... yeah, not great.

The rear seat is flat and uninviting. The rear seat is flat and uninviting.

The rear seat is flat and uninviting with nothing in the way of distractions. If your driver is keen, hold on tight otherwise you'll slide everywhere in every direction.

The boot is understandably small, but at 265 litres it's the smallest in an admittedly small segment. It's so small Suzuki can't fit a spare underneath it.

The boot has a 265 litre capacity. The boot has a 265 litre capacity.

Engine and transmission - What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The part that has had nothing done to it is the engine, which remains at 103kW/230Nm.

Suzuki's impressive 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder is responsible for these numbers. The better transmission is the six-speed manual (as opposed to the doughy CVT), sending these modest figures to the front wheels through a standard open diff. No tricks here.

Suzuki has an impressive 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Suzuki has an impressive 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

Fuel consumption - How much fuel does it consume?

The Swift Sport drinks premium unleaded - unusual in a Japanese car - at an official rate of 6.1L/100km. That isn't too far off reality, with a spirited week of driving yielding an indicated figure of 7.4L/100km.

Safety - What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Swift ships with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, low-speed forward AEB, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, reversing camera, and with the Series II update also features blind spot monitoring and reverse cross-traffic alert.

The Swift's maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating from 2017 still stands. The Swift's maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating from 2017 still stands.

This list is pretty good and matches the segment's safety heavy hitter, the Mazda2, on key points but there is nothing else with this kind of performance in the segment.

You also get three top-tether anchors and a two ISOFIX points, and the Swift's maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating from 2017 still stands.

Ownership - What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Driving - What's it like to drive?

It's noisy. It's fun. It's bumpy. It's darty. It axle tramps. It's a laugh. There's a lot to think about with the Swift Sport, as there always has been.

One of the first cars I reviewed for CarsGuide was the Swift Sport and I remember saying that it does a couple of things well and the rest was... well, not so good.

The 1.4-litre turbo engine is a cracker, with a strong slab of torque. The 1.4-litre turbo engine is a cracker, with a strong slab of torque.

A lot has changed in six years, but the Swift Sport is still a similar proposition. The 1.4-litre turbo engine is a cracker, though, with a strong slab of torque that easily overwhelms the front tyres if you have any steering lock on. 

Suzuki really commits to lightweight, the car coming in under a ton at 990kg. That means the modest power figures feel rather less modest. It's a proper urban warrior, handling everything you can throw at it in traffic with a slick-enough gearshift and a throttle that wants to dance.

Things come apart a bit on the freeway as a trade-off of the light weight is less noise damping material, letting plenty of tyre and wind noise into the cabin. The stereo isn't really up to covering that, so that might get a bit tiring.

But the needle swings back again when you find a reasonably smooth B-road or even C-road to go corner-hunting. It's a genuine delight to throw around and all the noise and wheelspin associated with said activity is worth it for the way you can work the Swift Sport.

It's a bit too pricey (although resale remains good) and really, it's not that much better than its two Korean rivals. But it does look the business and is genuinely grin-making a lot of the time.

It's also a bit of a statement. Nobody is really doing this sort of car anymore, because... well, actually, I have no idea. But the Swift Sport keeps the fire alive. 

That said, buyers love this car and it sells in numbers that seem to keep Suzuki Australia happy. It's better value now in Series II, with more safety gear but still has that spark that has me occasionally browsing Autotrader for an old one to keep on the drive for fun.

$26,990

Based on new car retail price

Daily driver score

3.7/5

Urban score

3.8/5
Price Guide

$26,990

Based on new car retail price

This price is subject to change closer to release data