Buy the new Suzuki Swift Sport or get a used Volkswagen Golf GTI?

Both the Suzuki Swift Sport and Mk7 VW Golf GTI represent high levels of bang for your bucks, but which is best?

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The little Suzi is a big fan favourite. As far as small and affordable hot hatchery goes, it’s right up there. It’s also hard to find more smiles per dollar at this end of the market. Although, at north of $25k for the manual Swift you can afford the venerable Mk 7 Volkswagen Golf GTI. It’s a class above in size and a significant leap in performance. But which one would we buy?


The fourth-generation Suzuki Swift Sport is different. It’s bigger than ever and, for the first time, finds its four-cylinder engine boosted by forced induction. What hasn’t changed is its lithe kerb weight. In fact, in a generation where nearly everything is becoming rather rotund, the Swift Sport has gone on a diet despite needing larger clothes. A sub-tonne total of 970kg for the manual means 80kg has been shed over the previous generation Sport.

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That’s good news given the Boosterjet 1.4-litre four-cylinder endows the Sport with 103kW at 5500rpm and 230Nm at 2500-3000rpm. Not exactly jaw-dropping figures, but the K14C engine produces an extra 3kW and a sizeable 70Nm more than the outgoing Sport. Plus, it has a plucky and perky nature that makes it hard not to love despite going against its traditional rev-happy, atmo grain. Almost more impressive is the fact that the diminutive Swift gains a five-star ANCAP safety rating, while remaining stripped out on the scales.

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Of course, being built to a price and weight, there has to be a trade-off somewhere. And that’s in terms of sound deadening and the quality of the plastics. Both aren’t great, but you kind of expect that given the price and relative performance on offer. However, the Swift is longer, wider and taller than its Supermini counterparts, meaning you get more interior space and cargo capacity (265L). It’ll even do 6.1L/100km.

It’s also decked out with an infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Keyless entry, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control (with AEB) and LED headlights are standard for the manual’s $25,490 price tag. Optioning the auto is a $2000 premium, and isn’t a bad choice if you desire it, but stick with the manual to further tie in with the entertaining dynamics.

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It’s hard not to include the Golf GTI in any hot-hatch conversation. And considering you can now get an early-build seventh-gen example of the front-wheel drive hero for around the same price of the Swift Sport new, it’s an appealing performance car for the pragmatic. Going on sale in 2013, the Mk7 GTI resembles decent used buying, with myriad options available second hand between $25,000 to $30,000 in either manual or DSG guises.

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For that price, there’s plenty of poke and far more personality than the Golf is often given credit. With the esteemed EA888 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo punching out 162kW (6200rpm) and 350Nm (4400rpm), the GTI reaches 100km/h in a claimed 6.5 seconds. It’s a linear unit, producing its power and torque in such a way that you’d almost be forgiven for thinking its naturally aspirated.

The six-speed DSG is an event to use, popping and farting with gear changes and crackling on the overrun. While the rapid-fire nature of the dual-clutch is enticing, it can be jerky at slow speeds. A six-speed manual, with a light action can be had if you prefer to shift gears yourself. Dynamically the GTI is competent, even fun as you push the limits, but overall it’s a very liveable hot hatch.

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Being only half a generation behind, the Mk7 GTI also gains up-to-date infotainment and high levels of on-road refinement. The interior quality is impeccable for a hatchback and the materials used are pleasingly tactile. The damping of the controls is first rate and it’s practical, too, with enough space for five along with a 380-litre boot.

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Specs comparison 



Suzuki Swift Sport

Volkswagen Golf GTI

Price (new)




1373cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo

1984cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo





 6-speed manual

 6-speed dual-clutch




Efficiency (combined)












Wheel size



Boot size


380 litres

Country of origin




Wheels staff picks

Trent Giunco
Staff Journalist

In just about all measurable metrics, the Golf is the better buy – especially when you consider the fact you can snap up a seventh-gen GTI for the price of a brand-spanking new Swift Sport. Yet, it’s not that black and white. With memories of the one-make Swift series front and centre, the cheeky nature of the Swift is hard to go past. But so is the premium interior and performance of the GTI – search hard enough and you might even nab a 169kW Performance version with the clever electronic front diff. I’d side step potential out-of-warranty issues and grab a well-optioned six-speed manual. Although, there’s no doubt I’d probably regret not buying the reliable Suzi at some point.

Alex Rae
Online Editor

Out of warranty issues relating to a Volkswagen DSG in a performance car is the thing of nightmares, so it comes down to the stick-shift Golf and the brand-spanking new Swift for me. Though the GTI is a fun hatch, newer variants are so slick and refined they miss the old school hot hatch vibe that the Swift Sport still has. Light, softly sprung but dynamically competent, there’s a lot of reward in extracting the best from the Japanese featherweight. Though the five-year warranty is a draw card too, Suzuki has a solid reputation for engineering cars that can last a lifetime.

Andy Enright
Deputy Editor

Being fundamentally lazy, I’m tempted by the DSG version of the Golf GTI but the realist in me has to admit that his own Golf 7 is now on its third DSG clutch pack. So, given that the Vee-dub is out of warranty, it’d have to be a manual version. Whether that car would put a bigger smile on your dial than the Swift is open to question. The Golf is astonishingly competent across the board, but the Swift has something about it. Ultimately, I think I’d still go for the Golf. It’s done the steepest part of its depreciation curve, it still feels modern and, on the right road, it’s properly quick. Where do I sign?


Reckon we’ve got it right? Or are we way off the money (literally)? Find your best and let us know in the comments what you’d buy.


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Trent Giunco

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