8:00am Friday 25th May 2012
MIXING fun with everyday driveability, today’s hot hatch is a top all-rounder.
It gives high performance, all the tyre squeal of a real-life sports car, seats in the back, room for some luggage and in the case of the new Suzuki Swift Sport, a tempting price tag.
Hot hatches used to be tremendously popular but theft and insurance all but killed them off.
Now the hot hatch is very much part of the scene again, bristling with attitude and in real terms cheaper to buy and run than ever before.
There are some cracking motors on the market with a lot of quality and horse power. However, if your budget is restricted then take a drive in the latest edition of the Swift Sport which went on sale in January.
It’s a great cost-cutting alternative to some of the well-established favourites with an on-theroad price of £13,499.
The three-door Japanese hatch has come in for a lot of improvements to make it faster, cleaner and more economical. It is also well built and comes with plenty of kit.
The new Euro 5 1.6-litre 136bhp motor has the more efficient dual variable valve timing to give improved torque or pulling power together with 10 per cent lower combined fuel consumption of 44.1mpg while the CO2 emissions at 147 (g/km) are also 10 per cent lower than the previous model.
The Sport serves up more fun than its power and price would have you believe. Driving it is no harder than driving a more mundane version and it isn’t a car that will bite back.
At low speeds the firm suspension is noticeable. But at a faster pace it irons out for a comfortable ride without any jarring and only on very rough surfaces does the ride suffer. There is some road noise at faster speeds but it is not intrusive.
Find some clear road and the acceleration is almost addictive and there are excellent handling characteristics and strong grip to give the press-on driver much confidence. There is no body roll.
The motor has plenty of lowdown power for quick acceleration and overtaking.
Full marks, too, for the steering which feels very direct and has plenty of feedback.
The brakes are powerful and more than man enough for the job while the gearshift is slick with well-spaced ratios.
The new design transmission now has an extra sixth gear fitted as standard and this is a worthwhile advance. It not only helps cut fuel consumption and improve CO2 levels but gives a more relaxed drive on the motorway and the open road.
From the outside the Sport looks the part with a lower ride height, side skirts, and stylish alloy wheels. At the rear there are twin exhausts and a small roof spoiler to help give a sporty look.
Inside, the cabin is very smart and very well laid out with several neat sporting touches. For a car in its price bracket it is certainly cut with a sharp knife.
The upholstery is first-rate with comfortable and supportive seats while a splendid driving position can be arrived at with plenty of seat adjustment and with a reach and rake steering column.
The Sport is a four-seater with good head and leg room. The boot is small, however, and not suited to carrying large items of luggage but the rear seats fold to double the load space to more than 500 litres.
Equipment is generous and includes auto air-conditioning, fog lamps, push-button start, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, HID projector headlamps with headlamp wash and rear privacy glass. The excellent safety features include an electronic stability programme and seven airbags.
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