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Review: 2008 Suzuki Swift Sport - For Spirited Driving

November 13th, 2008
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Read the complete Suzuki Swift review

Whether you’re downsizing or buying your first car, owning a Light car doesn’t have to be a compromise. Suzuki’s Swift Sport raises both of my eyebrows and you’ll see why.

The Sport model sits proudly at the top of the Swift range, at $23,990 it is a competitively priced hot hatch against its rivals.

Currently on offer in the sub junior fast lane is Ford’s Fiesta XR4 at $24,990, Mitsubishi’s Colt Ralliart at $24,990 and Volkwagen’s Polo GTi at $26,990. So that’s two Euros and two Japanese models to pick from if you’re after a light hot hatch.

I’ve always admired Suzuki’s ‘Sport’ models, from the original Swift GTI to the more recent Ignis Sport, featuring sporty Recaro seats with harness holes, a zippy engine, sporty wheels and surprisingly good handling. The Swift Sport loses none of these attributes and gets more.

First of all the car we used for the road test was bright yellow, a colour only available to the Sport variant so you can gloat to your friends that you bought the top of the range and if they don’t know… well tell em’.

Suzuki Swift Sport

You don’t often see light cars advertised to a male audience however the Swift Sport is an exception, its styling is unique and I mean that in a positive manner, it really works. Suzuki has managed to take a cute car and give it a bit of muscle, without making it look like its on roids or fitted with those aftermarket wings etc.

The Suzuki Swift Sport manages to appear sporty but not overly aggressive - appealing to a wider audience. The front bumper is new and includes a larger lower radiator grille, large fog light surrounds and a black skirt. These additions are more for looks rather than racing. Rally inspired alloy wheels that have a shoe size of 16 inch look great with a multi-spoke design. The finishing touches to complete the exterior include a rear spoiler level with the roofline and a dual exhaust system that puts out a nice throaty note over 4000 rpm.

The roofline is higher that most of its competitors allowing the tallest of drivers to be seated comfortably. “Feels like acres of headroom” one passenger commented.

Suzuki’s have always offered great value for money whilst keeping the price tag low. The Swift Sport is no different; at $23,990 it features a 1.6 litre engine producing 92 kW. Responsiveness, tight and revvy are words that all come to mind when driving this car, although with only 92 kW @ 6800 rpm, you’ll need to keep your right foot and the red needle in the power bandwidth over 4000 rpm to have lots of fun.

Suzuki Swift Sport

Talking about the right foot, when driving the Sport make sure you look down and notice the alloy pedals with rubber studs for extra grip when the souls of your shoes are wet. I don’t think having alloy pedals do anything but it does makes my Dunlop Volleys look cool-er.

The alloy-look highlights are continued through the interior from the steering wheel, the gear shifter, to the dashboard audio face and the door trim. The fit and finish is very good for a car of this class, the plastics in the cabin are not rock hard like its Korean cousins, offering a softer touch.

Suzuki Swift Sport Suzuki Swift Sport
Suzuki Swift Sport Suzuki Swift Sport

I’m guessing most Swift Sport buyers like listening to music. The layout of the audio control is akin to a home hi fi system, soft touch buttons and alloy highlights make operating the stereo a joy to use. It will store a single CD that is capable of playing MP3 file format songs for hours through the six speakers. The quality of the speakers however does not live up to the overall quality of the Swift Sport. When your favorite John Farnham… I mean John Butler song comes on the radio don’t expect to replicate the atmosphere of the concert in the red front row seats, the sound quality is on the low side but then again I’ve heard worse. The controls are easy to reach with the volume control closest to the driver but as we are getting lazier there are conveniently placed controls on the steering wheel where the cruise control should be… but isn’t.

Getting comfortable in the supportive sports seats is easy with the side bolsters protruding enough to offer support when attacking corners. The driver’s seat is height adjustable as well as the usual slide and reclining backrest offering the driver an optimum seating position.

Suzuki Swift Sport

Safety is a must with ‘sporty’ cars in my book; as sportscars tend to be driven harder in all sorts of conditions and on a range of road surfaces. The Swift Sport has a great safety feature list, dual front airbags, seat mounted side airbags, curtain airbags to protect occupants heads in a side collision, Anti-lock brakes, EBD, brake assist, traction control and must have ESP to ensure vehicle stability – all these features are now standard on the car.

All the pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly with not a piece missing, the 1.6 Litre engine is vivaciously fun to drive, being naturally aspirated it might not keep up with its rivals in a straight line but through the corners the upgraded sports tuned suspension is reliable and given the confidence will live up to some high expectations.

The front suspension is a MacPherson strut set-up which keeps manufacturing costs low, offering a nice firm ride with the stiffer dampers and keeps body roll to a minimum. The torsion beam in the rear is typical for light cars, I doubt Suzuki would use it in there rally cars but the Swift Sport does a great job of keeping the four wheels on the road at all times.

My usual criticism with 5 door hatches is the lack of rear luggage room in the boot; usually car designers make an effort to give the back seat passengers as much leg room as possible forgetting they might travel with a bag or a picnic basket one day. The boot set-up is appropriate for an older buyer, it has a removable floor cover to offer added space underneath and ensures loading and unloading of items when the floor cover is in place its no back breaker, however having the bigger boot is the result of no spare wheel so don’t get a flat too far from home.

Suzuki Swift Sport

Like I said, owning a small car doesn’t have to be a compromise, the Swift Sport has a low price compared to its rivals and appeals to a wide audience so selling it in 3-5 years won’t be a problem. It parks confidentially with character and drives with flare and has a bit of GO. Subsequently consider the Swift Sport for a test drive if you’re downsizing to a light car.

And for those that like the Swift Sport but it doesn’t fall within the budget Suzuki Australia release Limited Editions of the base model Swift every year badged as the RE series, the most recent wearing an RE3.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Competitors

Ford Fiesta XR4

Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart

Volkswagen Polo GTI

 


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