SIX thousand Suzuki Swift Sports have been sold in the UK since it was launched six years ago.
And earlier this year, Suzuki decided to replace it with an all-new version to keep the magic alive. The hope is UK sales will top 1,000 in 2012.
As the flagship model of the Swift range it offers even higher levels of tuning, handling and brakes than before.
It has also had a modest increase in power from 123bhp to 136bhp. I would have preferred even more to give it a bit more of an edge.
The 0–62mph dash takes 8.7 seconds and to get maximum enjoyment you need to give it plenty of revs and stay in the lower gears.
It’s a handsome beast, ground-hugging and compact. The twin exhausts, rear privacy glass, large front grille and big fog lamps give it plenty of road presence and the 17in aluminium alloys come as standard.
The squat body shape equates to sharp steering and confident cornering and though the suspension is stiff it is remarkably easy on the bones.
Despite the increase in power, the new Swift Sport is more fuel efficient than its predecessor returning 44.1mpg against 39.8mpg. Emissions are down considerably and insurance levels reduced. The Swift Sport is very well equipped for its keen on-the-road price of £13,499.
It includes such niceties as automatic air conditioning, fog lamps, push button start, keyless entry, cruise control, ESP and seven airbags. Keyless entry is a particular favourite of mine and seems to be finding its way into more cars.
The Swift Sport has the usual limitations of a compact three door: it’s a bit of a scramble to get to the rear seats and there’s a tiny boot that doesn’t offer up a lot of useable space.
As ever, the seat will drop forward to give extra luggage room but it doesn’t fold flat so bulkier items are a bit awkward to stash.
In general, though, the cabin is smart and practical, with an all over black and silver interior that lends a real touch of class.
Sports seats come in an exclusive fabric and the five-dial cluster is easy to read. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes and electronic brake force distribution.
Passive safety is represented by an energy-absorbing body shell with crumple zones.
The Swift has been a huge success story for Suzuki and has given it a much greater brand awareness among the motoring public
It’s won 63 Car of the Year awards in 19 countries and reached sales of a million units faster than any other model in Suzuki’s history.