5 March 2018

Suzuki Swift Sport 2018 Car Review

Anyone hoping to sell a sports hatch based on a mainstream car, and to sell it in reasonable numbers, has to aim for the impossible: a vehicle that will fit many sizes of sporting driver, which can tackle the daily commute or shopping trip and still deliver a blistering back-road drive, all without inflating the price to unreasonable levels.

2018 Suzuki Swift Sport front 3Q crop
Suzuki Swift Sport
2018 Suzuki Swift Sport rear 3q crop
Suzuki Swift Sport
2018 Suzuki Swift Sport cabin
Suzuki Swift Sport
2018 Suzuki Swift Sport cabin rear crop
Suzuki Swift Sport
2018 Suzuki Swift Sport badge crop
Suzuki Swift Sport

Inevitably not everyone will be happy with the compromise reached, but you’d have to be very fussy not to like this Swift Sport.

It gets a turbo for the first time since the model debuted in 2005, which boosts torque by a fat 44 percent, to 230Nm. It gets a sharper look to match, without being so sharp it’ll scare the horses, a rear spoiler, twin mufflers poking cheekily out the rear, side skirts, very handsome black diamond-cut alloy wheels, and ‘hidden’ rear door handles that help the car look more sporty three-door than sensible five.

Inside there are more shapely sport seats with integrated head restraints and red contrast stitching, alloy pedals and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

And underneath the whole plot is the brand’s new platform – 90kg lighter in manual form, which takes the total to just 970kg, wet.

This engine is shared with the bigger Vitara SUV, and also comes with a scant three additional kilowatts from 1.3 litres, over the outgoing 1.6.

More noticeable, that 103kW power peak arrives at 5500rpm, 1400rpm lower than before, with peak torque on offer anywhere from 2500 to 3500rpm, considerably lower than the old car’s 4400rpm.

If you’re built more like a rhino than a reed you may find these new seats a bit of a squeeze, and if your idea of a sporting drive is gamboling about at high speeds and even higher revs with your bum sat just above the tarmac, you may be disappointed.

But in the real world, having that much more torque available at lower revs to push a lighter car makes for a helluva punch, especially on tight and twisty roads or round town, where this Swift Sport can blitz the zero to 50 in a blink, leaving its ancestor in its dust.

This slick-acting manual helps you make the most of it too, and there’s more good news when it comes to the handling.

This new body sits 15mm lower, and 40mm wider. Wheelbase has increased too, but not length. That makes this car feel very planted, especially when you factor in the suspension tuning, revised shocks and beefier stabilizer joint bars in a stiffer structure.

All that makes this car a delight to punt through some challenging swervery, sure-footed and nimble, with that torque flinging you out of corners with a joi de vivre that should put a smile on any face.

Yet the car’s everyday job hasn’t been forgotten either. Sure, no Swift has the biggest boot in the bracket, but claimed thirst is 6.1l/100km: our drive netted 6.6, despite a high proportion of spirited driving, and very little highway. Meantime the suspension is as compliant as you’d hope for a small city runabout, absorbing the bumps and jiggles of our tester’s hilly rural commute with effortless efficiency.

But wait, there’s more. LED projector headlights, a seven-inch multimedia display that’s almost idiot-proof to use, hands-free phone and integrated navigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto deliver entertainment if simply driving’s not enough, and there are steering wheel controls for the adaptive cruise, audio and phone.

Start manoeuvring round town and you’ll appreciate the speed limiter, the reversing camera, the auto-levelling headlights and the forward detection system with brake support, and lane departure warning working at up to 60kph.

So far, so sensible, but then there are sops to the petrolheads too, in the form of an LCD display with a boost gauge, engine performance screens and even a g-force indicator, though frankly, if you’re driving fast enough to register much on any of them, you should be keeping your eyes on the road.

And then we get to price. At $28,500 as tested the car is very good value, particularly when we look at similar-sized equivalents. Ford’s Fiesta Sport costs around the same, but delivers much less power. Honda’s Jazz RS costs less, and is less grunty. The Europeans all cost lots more.

Overall, the latest Swift Sport has raised the bar again – better than its mainstream rivals, it delivers such a well-balanced compromise between driving fun and everyday practicality, between light enough to be agile and sufficiently well specced to please, that it takes the argument to similarly focused cars that sell for a good wedge of salary above it.

At a glance


Swift Sport


1373cc, four cylinder direct injection turbo


$28,500 manual ($29,990 auto)

ANCAP safety rating



103kW at 5500rpm, 230Nm at 2500 to 3500rpm


6-speed manual (or 6-speed auto)

Fuel economy


Towing capacity




Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

265 to 579 litres (seats folded)

Safety systems


6- Airbags

Reversing camera

Lane departure warning

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