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2018 Suzuki Swift Sport long-term review, part one

By Tony O'Kane, 23 Jun 2018 Car Reviews

2018 Suzuki Swift Sport long-term review, part one

Three-pot entree is finished; it’s time to get stuck into Suzuki’s main course

IT HAD been a swell two months behind the wheel of the Swift GLX Turbo, but to be brutally honest I was pretty keen on handing it back by the time week eight came and went. The GLX is a terrific thing, but returning it to Suzuki meant I’d be able to hop straight into an even more appealing Suzi – the feisty Swift Sport.

Read next: 2018 Suzuki Swift GLX Turbo long-term review, part two

And so as I motored down the street toward Suzuki Australia’s headquarters, in Melbourne’s industrial south-west, I found myself involuntarily grinning. The third-gen Swift Sport was a giggle-inducing joy at its local launch at Victoria’s Broadford race track, and I’ve been itching to spend more time in it since. However, as I steered into Suzuki’s driveway my smile began to fade.

There was my Swift: parked, polished and ready for the handover. The only problem was it was festooned with stickers.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the tasteful application of decals on cars, and anyone who knows me will confirm that I have a peculiar fetish for ’80s-era door stickers that say things like INTERCOOLER 4-VALVE DOHC TURBO in large block letters. However the graphical, erm, enhancements on my Swift Sport are just a little too juvenile for my tastes.

The stripes on the lower doors and up on the C-pillar are actually okay – I appreciate that the former loudly proclaim this to be the SPORT, in case the Champion Yellow paint didn’t clue you in – but the winged eyeliner on the headlamps and the cloven hoof bonnet decals seem unnecessary. They’re also printed in a faux-carbon weave, another of my pet hates.

Or maybe I’m just being a snob. I’ll let you know if I still hate the stickers in four months.

Read next: Suzuki Swift: 2018 Car of the Year Finalist

I know, I know, I’m sounding tremendously ungrateful, but here’s the thing: the Swift Sport could be plastered in a My Little Pony livery and I’d probably still drive it. Even the cringiest exterior accessories can’t diminish the sheer fun-factor of the spiciest Swift.

And it’s not like you can see those decals from the inside, where your bum is hugged by superb bucket seats and the red-faced tacho hints that this ain’t your gran’s Suzuki. I’m still unsure whether I approve of the dot-matrix red trim on the dashboard and door cards, and some might argue that the cabin furniture doesn’t bear enough differentiation from the GLX Turbo that sits beneath it. I’m not of that view.

Sure, some extra soft-touch surfacing would be welcome (especially inside the centre console storage tray to stop phones from sliding about), but let’s not forget this car’s roots as a budget light hatch. 

Anyway, all is forgiven once you hit the starter button and get stuck into that joyously boosty 1.4-litre turbo. It’s got astonishing flexibility in around-town driving thanks to an abundance of low-end torque, and the Sport’s featherweight 970kg kerb mass means the effect of those 230 Newtons of twist is far more profound than the bald figure would suggest.

Peak torque arrives at between 2500 and 3500rpm and doesn’t sharply tail off thereafter, which means that commuting is a much less frenetic task than it was in the last-gen Swift Sport, whose atmo 1.6L needed loads of revs to extract meaningful oomph. Cruelly, commuting is pretty much all I’ve been able to do in it so far – I picked up my decal-clad Sport just a few days before heading off on a three-week holiday.

Read next: 2017 Suzuki Celerio Review

My loss will be a colleague’s gain, but once I’m back I intend to give the Sport a damn good strap – hopefully at speeds fast enough to peel off a few stickers.