By Mike Torpey on 2018-05-08 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Suzuki switches up
THEY are three words to sum up the past, present and future of Suzuki's fiery little Swift Sport - succession, innovation and evolution.
Since 2006, the Swift Sport has been a landmark model for the Japanese manufacturer renowned as a specialist in small, value for money cars.
Its combination of convenience with sports performance has earned it cult status on the 'warm' hatchback scene.
Now with the imminent arrival of the Swift Sport third generation, Suzuki has switched up the heat.
Next month will see a new lighter, sharper and quieter Sport, aimed at putting the driver at the heart of the experience, unleashed on UK roads.
The newcomer looks the part too, being both longer and marginally lower than the standard Swift, while a fresh Champion Yellow paint job adds some extra sparkle.
Wheras the current model is powered by a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine, the new Swift Sport features a 1.4-litre Boosterjet turbo unit developing 140PS and capable of accelerating from 0-62 in 8.1 seconds and on to a potential top speed of 130mph.
Its pulling power is also impressive, offering a 44 per cent greater degree of torque than before - 230Nm available from 2,500rpm - while its lighter body contributes to an official average fuel return figure of 50.4mpg.
But rather than take Suzuki's word for it we embarked on a thorough examination of the car's attributes over 100 miles of fast and undulating Irish roads in County Wicklow followed by a blast round the republic's celebrated Mondello Park racing circuit.
Light to the feel and with precision steering, the Sport is rewardingly nimble, predictable and well planted.
It's energetic, reasonably frugal as our 37.9mpg average return confirmed, and benefits from a 10 per cent shorter gearshift throw for quicker changes. In short it's a hoot to drive.
In particular the 15 laps at Mondello really brought out the best in the Swift Sport - the knowledge that there's nothing coming in the opposite direction, and no walls or trees in sight, providing an extra confidence boost.
First models arrive in showrooms on June 1 and the specification is simple - there's just one, with everything included, for £17,999.
The kit list is extensive and includes the likes of a leather steering wheel, air con, 17-inch alloys, electric windows, privacy glass, DAB radio and Bluetooth and LED daytime running lights.
You also get a rear view camera, sat-nav, Smartphone link display audio, front fog lamps and safety features like Advanced Forward Detection System, Lane Departure Correction, six airbags, Adaptive Cruise Control and a weaving alert function.
As for value, well rivals like the admittedly more powerful Peugeot 208 GTi, Clio Renaultsport and Vauxhall Corsa VXR all cost at least £2,225 more - and the former nearly £4,000 more expensive.
Accessories have yet to be finalised, though a black stripe over the roof and down the bonnet will almost certainly be available on the Champion Yellow version - a body colour originating from the Suzuki Works Junior Rally Car.
Suzuki says finance costs on the Swift Sport will be £249 a month with £0 deposit and £209 per month with £2,000 deposit.
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