IT'S a tried and trusted formula. Ever since the first Mini Cooper - that was more than half a century ago - we've loved fiery small cars.
Call them pocket-rockets or hot hatches, the story's the same. A small body and a big heart with go-kart-like steering and pin-sharp handling, the result is more fun per kilo than many much more expensive motors.
One firm that knows a bit about handling and precision engineering in diminutive cars is Suzuki who last year replaced the Swift Sport.
The latest version, bearing uncanny visual resemblance to the previous model, is firmer, faster and more grown up than the original. But fortunately its dimensions remain petit.
Instead of a 1.6-litre normally aspirated engine, there's a 1.4-litre turbo which gives marginally quicker acceleration and much improved pulling power and better refinement. It doesn't pay to rev the little motor into the red, but this doesn't detract from the driving fun, as the four-pot petrol is ultra responsive and throttle sensitive.
And this is where the Swift Sport scores highly. It feel just right - the seats hug you like a lost friend, the steering is as high geared as is safely possible and the six-speed gearbox has as slick a short-throw action as you are likely to find.
Show it a snaky country road with a few corkscrew bends and a handful of straights and the Suzuki is in its element. Guaranteed to broaden your smile from ear-to-ear, its delicate balance and dainty handling just encourages you to press on.
The engine responds almost intuitively to a dab of the accelerator and there's always a perfect ratio available to match the speed and the approaching bend. With a sub nine-second sprint to 62mph, it's quick enough but it is unlikely to make your ears bleed. Max nudges 130mph.
You sit quite low, emphasising the sport nature but there's ample room up front - less so, obviously, in the rear where there's space for two passengers so long as they are good pals. The boot, at 265 litres, is bigger than before but still compact.
At around the Â£18,000 mark, the Sport is no longer a snip - due partly to the currency exchange - but you get plenty kit for the cash. Sat nav, reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and climate control are all included.
Trim standard is up there with the best with fine build quality and the use of high grade, tactile plastics. Fascia layout is sensible and attractive if a little staid for this type of car.
With emissions of just 125g/km, you expect matching frugality but drive the Sport the way it likes best and your mpg will suffer. My average of 32mpg illustrates the point, although the official combined consumption is around 50mpg.