FAMILIARITY breeds contempt, so they say, but like so many well-worn maxims that phrase doesn’t apply to everything. It certainly doesn’t apply to the Swift Sport I’ve been driving for the past five months.
I don’t want to give it back. That’s the summary of how I feel about it. Can you blame me? It’s light, chuckable, looks cool, is a cinch to park and sips fuel. The seats are great, it loves to be driven like a hooligan, and even the stress and duress of a trackday wasn’t enough to make it wilt. It’s a Jack Russell of a car, bursting with energy and playful to the extreme.
But this isn’t Stockholm Syndrome. I’m not going to ignore its flaws. For starters the gearshift action could be more precise (I just drove the new Corolla in base-model manual form and it has a tighter gate), and the exhaust note could be improved with some raucous bangs and burbles. The new Fiesta ST that’s coming our way next year sounds wicked, but sadly the Suzuki does not.
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There are other niggles like some hard plastics where they should probably be soft, but it seems mean to mark down a mainstream B-segment hatchback for being built to a price. Even so, none of these issues were enough to dilute my enthusiasm for the Swift Sport. I’d hold onto it forever if I could, but sadly AQH532 is the property of Suzuki Australia and needs to be returned.
So I did the next best thing and persuaded my other half to buy one.
She didn’t take much convincing. Having the Swift Sport in my driveway for nearly half a year made it an easy sell – it’s a known quantity, after all, and given she’s spent many hours in the passenger seat she’s had plenty of time to decide whether she likes it or not. Other factors were at play too, namely the ability to run a novated lease through her work and the fact her existing car decided to fry its ECU.
To my eternal dismay my dear girlfriend is anything but a car enthusiast, but she nevertheless wanted something with a bit more attitude than the average hatchback, and that was also available with an automatic and priced somewhere in the mid-$20K region. Taking those criteria into account, it’s actually surprisingly slim pickings. The Clio RS200 Sport is an animal when put in Race mode, but costs north of $30K, the Mazda3 SP25 is too sober in its current generation, the Hyundai i30 SR is a smidge too expensive at $29K with an auto, the Fiesta ST is manual-only and Honda rudely refuses to act on my suggestion that it should produce a Jazz Type R.
The planets were clearly in alignment then – the Swift Sport was the sweet spot. There was just one more hurdle – facing a car dealer.
If you believe the stereotype, car salesmen are greasy-haired, fork-tongued, slick-talking charlatans. Much like car journalists, in fact. The truth is somewhat different, at least as far as Suzuki’s sales staff were concerned. They ignored me almost entirely, but that’s because they homed in on the fact that it was my partner who was buying and not me. For an industry that doesn’t have the greatest reputation when it comes to serving women, it was encouraging to see. Kudos, Suzuki.
After a test drive and some fairly painless bargaining, we had an order in for a white automatic Swift Sport. The timing is perfect: as I wave goodbye to my Pikachu-yellow Swift, a vanilla-white example rolls in to take its place in the O’Kane garage. Except this time, this one’s going to stick around a lot longer.