With the Swift Sport now gone, I'm afraid I owe it an apology: there was a load of other stuff that I wanted to do with the car that I simply didn't get around to doing. Sorry little Suzuki. Sadly the grown up, mundane, office-based stuff always seems to get in the way of the fun stuff.
Matt's happier than he looks here, honest
I didn't take it to the Nurbugring, I didn't compare it to an Ignis Sport (or an old Swift Sport) and I didn't pitch it against some hot hatch greats. I should have, because I'm confident it would have done very well; the Swift simply doesn't have a weak link, certainly not that I discovered.
There are elements of the Swift I'm missing already, even after just 10 days without it. Silly things like how easy it was to see out of and park, but also the response and agility you get from driving around in a 1,000kg car. It was always willing to duck and dive its way around a town or a B-road, yet with sufficient refinement to make it fine elsewhere too.
Now the point of running the Swift Sport on the PH Fleet was to celebrate its status as the last naturally aspirated hot hatch on sale. And while the Suzuki's 1.6-litre M16 (and yes, it really is called that) is not perhaps a legendary hot hatch engine like the B16B in an EK9 Civic Type R or the lusty old Peugeot lumps, it performed its duties admirably well. It never quite zinged like some of the great Japanese engines, but its additional eagerness over 4,400rpm was well worth chasing and having peak power at 6,900rpm meant the Swift's performance always felt to be building (albeit in a modest fashion). This is infinitely preferable to a swell of turbo torque that makes progress feel disappointingly linear. With a nice six-speed manual gearbox too, hustling the Swift along briskly was always a pleasure.
Small car = lots of space on the road
Particular highlights over the past few months and eight thousand miles have all been on B-roads, appropriately enough. The Swift just feels so well suited to small country lanes, tiny dimensions and good visibility meaning you can make the most of everything it has. The drive back from Lotus in the white five-door car was good, but the Christmas B-road blast was certainly the best; it was one of the most fun drives I had all of last year in fact. Really.
That the Swift was such a complete and entertaining car for £14K never failed to impress. Where it struggled, and as was discussed a couple of months back, was for buyers who aren't buying the car outright straightaway. Monthly payments to lease a Swift Sport were higher than for a Fiesta ST and, to be frank, the Fiesta is a better car. However, on the secondhand market, the Swift's case looks strong again - they're so damn cheap. This 16-plate car with just 4,000 miles is £9,995, for example. This generation of Swift Sport is actually available from £6K; ally its fun with reasonable running costs and - one assumes - decent reliability, and you have a very tempting junior hot hatch package.
Since the Swift joined the PH Fleet it has gone off sale (although there still a few new cars available), in theory making KY66 OVA one of the last Sports on the road. The standard Swift has been replaced by a new model and, in time, the Sport will be too. I have to be honest, though, things aren't looking all that good at the moment. A turbo engine isn't the end of the world, as many are now so good, but the
Autocar road test
of the standard model doesn't read well for those who enjoy the handling verve of the last car: "the new Swift is a lot closer to the dynamic standards of the average supermini than the previous one was." Hmm...
Let's see. Perhaps I've just become too attached to this car to see much room for improvement. Whatever the future holds for the Swift Sport though, there's no doubting this is a great little car. Fortunately enough it's being replaced by another blue, 1.6-litre car with a six-speed manual gearbox soon - a rather different proposition though...
Car: Suzuki Swift Sport
Run by: Matt
On fleet since: October 2016
Mileage: 7,627 (delivered on 300)
List price new: £14,399
Last month at a glance: Sayonara Swift Sport!
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