ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS DRIVES THE NEW SUZUKI SWIFT SPORT

Suzuki is renowned for producing small cars, in fact to date more than six million Swifts have been sold worldwide and the flagship is the Sport. The good news is a new Sport, the third model to wear this badge and in order to get the feel of the newcomer I had the opportunity to take the wheel over a superb route in counties Wicklow and Kildare which took me to Mondello Park.

Suzuki was determined that the new Swift Sport could be out through its paces and the memories of bygone days of the Circuit of Ireland Rally  came flowing back as I sped through the Sally Gap and at Mondello Park, which celebrates its 50th birthday this year the opportunity to take in ten laps of the National Circuit.

Many found this quite a challenge as it is a technical circuit and it proved ideal to highlight the handling qualities of the new Swift. Best described as a warm hatchback rather than a hot hatchback and after having put up some distance in the newcomer, I would tend to agree. Yes it has sporting performance, perhaps not in the same league as a Golf GTi; however rest to 62mph (100kph) in a whisker over eight seconds and on to a top speed of 130mph.

Carrying forward the Swift DNA the new model adopts new styling and a performance enhancing light body (70kgs lighter than the previous model) with a number of advanced safety technologies, which we now take for granted in a new car. Styling is certainly eye catching, the new Swift Sport has an exclusive frontal design; a muscular looking package which sits well on the tarmac.

In comparing with the rest of the Swift range, the Sport is slightly longer and sits 15mm lower than the previous model. Power is provided by a 1.4 litre Boosterjet turbo petrol engine, in fact the same as found in the Vitara and S-Cross models. While the power output is useful at 140bhp, it is the torque that is much more impressive; this is one of the qualities of the newcomer. A manual transmission with six gears delivered a sporty feel, just what you would expect. Boosterjet is Suzuki technology developed to deliver improved fuel economy and of course the all important driving pleasure.

Suspension is the key to delivering good handling; Suzuki has delivered greater driving ability, optimised roll rigidity and improved dynamic response. All of this may sound almost like a competition car set up. The big surprise is despite a firm ride it remains a comfortable one and that is an achievement for a small car. Stopping power is all important and the Sport has uprated brakes over the standard model with ventilated front discs a feature. I have to admit at first I found the steering just a little heavy for my taste, but I did quickly get used to its feel. The steering rack is of the variable ratio type and one result is much sharper handling.

Safety is paramount and Suzuki provides a comprehensive safety package even with a small car and you will not be disappointed, with this newcomer adopting Suzuki’s Total Effective Control Technology which provides a high level of collision safety. Other key items include a forward detection system, dual sensor brake support, adaptive cruise control, high beam assist and lane departure warning.

There is just one trim level and the specification is of a high standard. Highlights, air conditioning, leather steering wheel, DAB radio with Bluetooth, LED running lights, 17 inch alloy wheels, sat nav and when it comers to colour choice, six to choose from one and something which I found very unusual, no extra charge for a metallic paint finish.

Suzuki has come up with a winner with their new Swift Sport, a complete package in every sense and the price- £17,999 N.I). The price has yet to be finalised for the Republic of Ireland.