Just like calling a Ford Mustang a ‘muscle car’ is guaranteed to get you into a bar fight in the majority of the 52 states, calling the Suzuki Swift Sport a ‘hot hatch’ has long been an equally contested subject. ‘Warm-hatch’ seemed to fit the bill better, and in a world where you can buy a 416bhp Mercedes hatchback from a dealership floor, it looks more apt than ever.
Regardless of what you want to call the Swift Sport, it has always been somewhat of a hidden gem. When a friend of mine offered me his first-generation Swift Sport to try out some years ago, I was uninterested despite the glowing reviews they always seemed to garner. After a brief drive, however, I told him I’d be taking it for the weekend and that he could expect it back needing a new set of tyres. It was rev-happy, rewardingly predictable and seemed to eat up every bit of abuse you could throw at it. So, when the chance arrived to try out the third-generation Swift Sport for an extended loan, I jumped at it.
So here it is, the latest addition to our long-term test garage. It’s a 2021 Suzuki Swift Sport finished in ‘Speedy Blue Metallic’; if that doesn’t get your heart racing, I don’t know what will. Options-wise, there’s nothing too meaningful to tick when speccing your new Swift Sport. A racing stripe, some wheel nuts in body matched colours or a door sill emblazoned with a racing flag are the extent of what you can choose. From what I can tell though, our car’s only option is the paint colour, which as my mum would say “makes it look rather smart doesn’t it”.
Speaking of looks, much like the previous generation of Swift Sport, I think Suzuki has got it just right with regards to creating a ‘sport’ version. Questionable faux-carbon lower body trim aside, it’s clever and simple. There are no 6-foot wings hanging off it or silly fake vents in places they don’t need to be, but yet it’s easily distinguishable from the sickeningly friendly face of the standard Swift. You know it’s a Swift Sport if you happen upon it, but it doesn’t go as far as to make you look twice.
Up until mid-2020, your Swift Sport was equipped with a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-pot, but what makes the most recent Swift Sport interesting is the addition of mild-hybrid technology in the form of a 10kW motor. This can kick in under acceleration and will then charge through regenerative braking.
On paper, the hybrid Swift Sport drops to 126bhp vs the early 2020 car’s 136hp. However, this is pushed up to 138bhp when you include the electrical assistance. This becomes even more of a shove when you look at the torque figure which has gone from 170lb ft in the earlier cars to 212lb ft for short periods when the starter motor-generator is doing its thing. This makes a considerable difference and makes the car feel a whole lot less like a ‘warm hatch’ when you go for an overtake or leave a set of lights with vigour.
Inside you’ve got all the 2021 amenities that A) you expect for a hatch marketed at the younger generation, and B) that are mandated by law. Not only are you greeted by adaptive cruise control, steering wheel buttons for everything you could need, and a reasonably large touchscreen display with smartphone linkage, but you also have what seems to be 85,000 different buttons to enable, disable and change the severity of the endless safety measures put in to stop you having any control over the car you’re operating. More on that in a future article.
I’m looking forward to getting to grips with the new Swift Sport, to see if it can battle all the modern electric mollycoddling and bring out any of that simple teenage angst I once bestowed upon my friend’s first-generation Swift Sport.
As always, let us know what questions you want us to answer with the car, and we’ll try our best to include it in the next update.