The Suzuki Swift Sport has always been one of our favourite hot hatches. In fact, it’s won the entry price point in its class at the past three What Car? Car of the Year Awards.
The entire Swift range was face-lifted last year, and for 2014 the range-topping Sport model now boasts a sat-nav and a DAB radio as standard, boosting its already impressive standard specification.
Despite the extra equipment, the Swift Sport’s price has increased by just £250. It now costs £13,999 for the three-door and £14,449 for the five-door.
What’s the 2014 Suzuki Swift Sport like to drive?
If you jump into the Swift Sport expecting the mid-range punch of a modern turbo hot hatch, you’ll be left a little disappointed. The Suzuki's naturally aspirated petrol needs to be revved beyond 4000rpm before it comes alive - although doing so is truly rewarding.
It revs smoothly with pleasing engine and exhaust notes up to the limiter, which is where you’ll find the peak 134bhp. A 0-62mph time of 8.7 seconds means the Swift Sport is by no means slow, although it's nowhere near as nippy as, say, a Ford Fiesta ST.
While it doesn’t have the pace of the some rivals, the Swift is still an absolute hoot to drive along your favourite B-road thanks to its good body control, strong grip and lively chassis.
What’s more, the agile handling doesn't come at the expense of an overly firm ride; the Sport might be the firmest model in the Swift range, but it's actually remarkably comfortable by hot hatch standards.
The light steering makes the Sport easy to pilot around town, but the steering weights up predictably through faster bends. Granted, there's not quite the same feedback you get from a Ford Fiesta ST, but then the Suzuki is a lot cheaper.
What’s the 2014 Suzuki Swift Sport like inside?
The Swift Sport’s ride and handling might outshine far more expensive cars, but its interior quality is no match for the best hot hatches. While most plastics are at least textured and not too flimsy, there’s no escaping the fact that they feel a bit cheap.
Still, the Swift's cabin looks smart enough, with some flashes of red stitching around the wheel, on the gearknob and on the comfortable sport seats.
The 2014 Swift Sport's equipment list is pretty comprehensive, too. You get seven airbags, climate control, keyless entry and start, cruise control, xenon headlights, sat-nav, a DAB radio and Bluetooth.
The touch-screen infotainment system – which incorporates the new sat-nav – is clear and intuitive, and there's virtually no delay before it responds to your commands. The smaller on-screen buttons can be tricky to operate on the move, but programming the sat-nav is as easy as it is quick.
All-round visibility is decent enough, plus there's plenty of adjustment in the driving position to suit different body shapes and sizes. The front passenger has loads of headroom, too, although taller adults won't enjoy long trips in the back due to the limited rear legroom.
Choosing the five-door Swift doesn’t make the car any bigger, but it does give you an extra rear seat, so you can carry up to five on short trips.
The Swift's biggest practicality shortfall is boot space – 211 litres is far less room than you get in most modern superminis, although it’s identical to the new Mini.
Should I buy one?
If you’re willing to trade outright performance for everyday useability and low running costs, then call your local Suzuki dealer and book a test drive.
True, the Swift might not be as quick or capable as a Ford Fiesta ST, but it's more comfortable, better equipped, usefully cheaper to buy (even after discounts) and will cost you significantly less to insure.
The new Mini Cooper is also worth a look, because while it too is more expensive to buy than the Suzuki, it's predicted to hold on to its value for much longer.
What Car? says…
Engine size 1.6-litre petrol
Price from £13,999
Torque 118lb ft
0-62mph 8.7 seconds
Top speed 121mph
Fuel economy 44.1mpg