ROAD TEST: Suzuki Swift Sport Turbo - light the fire cracker
FIRST impressions can be misleading. Initial introductions with the new Suzuki Swift Sport Turbo were good...but after spending more time with the hatch it's better than good.
The most athletic Suzuki Swift you can buy is a pocket-rocket that offers fun without requiring a life-long relationship with your bank manager. Starting from $26,990 for the automatic plus on-roads (you can pay $2000 less by changing gears yourself - shock horror), it excels in the bang for buck realm.
Suzuki hasn't just dropped a turbocharged engine into the shell, either. It uses additional engineering nous for stellar cornering ability.
Drive-away pricing is less than $30,000, and for your investment the standard equipment is solid with figure-hugging sports seats, built-in navigation, smartphone mirroring applications Apple CarPlay/Android Auto matched to a seven-inch touch-screen, rear-view camera, push button start and radar cruise control.
Ensuring it remains a step above the basic Swift are sports pedals, 17-inch alloys shod with Continental tyres, twin stainless steel exhaust pipes and faux carbon-fibre on the bumpers.
Capped price servicing is $2740 over 10 services, but like all Suzukis the intervals are short at six months or 10,000km. You'd likely be up for at least $548 annually.
Some other Japanese marques like Subaru also maintain shorter intervals. These brands, like Suzuki, have an enviable reputation for quality and longevity...the trade-off for the more regular inconvenience.
The little turbo engine also prefers premium unleaded. Our test encompassed a long highway journey, where consumption levels were in the low four litres per 100km realm. Impressive indeed.
It got thirstier once we spent some time in mountainous terrain, that included liberal use of the right pedal, finishing with an average of about seven litres/100km.
Five colours are available, the stand-out yellow, blue, white, grey and black. All interiors are a combination of black and red with carbon-fibre style finish.
With a kerb weight of less than a tonne, the Swift Sport still manages to feel rigid and robust.
Reaching 100km/h from standstill in less than eight seconds, it falls short of the prestigious hot hatch category, yet it feels punchy throughout the rev range.
That willingness to accelerate mid-gear makes it outstanding fun, helping to slingshot you out of corners aided by the paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel. It grips and hunkers down with aplomb.
It's the same 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine you'll find in the S-Cross, but Suzuki has turned up the torque dial.
Compared to a standard Swift, these Sport models also come with specific Monroe suspension changes, while the different torsion bar used delivers greater stiffness.
Road noise is evident at highway speeds, and it can be difficult to hold phone conversations using the bluetooth connection, but it's a compact hatch not a grand tourer.
Cabin accommodation suits four adults, five is a stretch. While the boot is small, the split-folding rear seats add useful loading flexibility.
The console cup-holders are reasonable, while the doors also have bottle allocations.
Impressive standard equipment includes six airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane wander warning, radar cruise control with three pre-set options to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front, and a rear camera (no back sensors). It has a five-star score for crash safety.
PEUGEOT 208 GTI $29,990 plus on-roads
Another strong little performer 153kW/300Nm, but only available in three-door guise.
FORD FIESTA ST $27,490 plus on-roads
More closely aligned on price, generates 134kW/240Nm, but isn't as friendly to drive day-to-day.
VOLKSWAGEN POLO GTI $30,990
Forecast to arrive in August, it will have a heap more power and torque 147kW/320Nm, but you'll pay for the privilege.
Driving the Swift Sport is a hoot, and I've managed to pay less than $30k when some of the Euros are pushing well above $35,000.
The bucket seats are loveable and the looks are sporty without being over the top, but it could use a better exhaust soundtrack.
AT A GLANCE
Suzuki Swift Sport Turbo
PRICE $24,990 for auto plus on-roads (good value)
WARRANTY AND SERVICING 3yr 100,000km (short) servicing $2740 over 10 (mid-range)
ENGINE 1.4-litre turbo 4-cyl 103kW/230Nm FWD (strong and fast).
SAFETY 5-star, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, high beam assist, emergency autonomous braking (excellent)
CONSUMPTION 6.1 litres/100km (expected)
SPARE None, repair kit (becoming common)
BOOT 265 litres (small)