Neck on the line

Suzuki’s performance halo goes from zippy hatch to Zimmer frame in one lift

DANIEL GARDNER

SUZUKI SWIFT SPORT

Date acquired: April 2018

Price as tested: $25,600

This month: 1012km @ 6.4L/100km

Overall: 1787km @ 6.0L/100km

Peacocking with confidence

It’ not hard to spot a Swift Sport painted in the near-fluoro Champion Yellow hue. It’ easily the brightest colour of the five paint options available, which also include white, black, grey and a rather nice speedy’ blue. Happily, if the previous-gen Sport is any guide, Suzuki’ more lurid colours are popular with Australian customers. As for the black decals? The jury’ still out on those.

I USED to think the best way to evaluate the day-to-day ride quality of a hatchback was to find a poorly maintained bit of road and do some laps, but I was wrong.

What you actually do is get carried away at the gym and give yourself something called a ‘vertebral subluxation complex’ between C6 and C7. Ride quality takes on an entirely new meaning when you feel as though someone has left a kebab skewer in your neck and you’re walking around like a droid that can’t look up or left.

ERGONOMICS ARE KEY

Why can’t all keys be as compact and cute as the Swift Sport’s? You could almost wear it as a locket

So you might imagine my life was hell standing in for O’Kane and looking after his Swift Sport for a few weeks. I’m already a big fan of the Swift GLX Turbo but this performance-enhanced version has stiffer track-tuned suspension – a feature that threatens to loosen the bladder of someone with a neck injury. Far from being unrelentingly stiff, however, the Suzuki realises its performance gains through minimisation of weight and deft chassis tuning. The result is a car that was fast and enormous fun before I injured myself, but still comfortable and forgiving for trips to the chiropractor after. No doubt its 103kW/230Nm would get to the ground more effectively if an LSD was standard, but then it wouldn’t be a $25,490 proposition and there’s something satisfyingly involving about the way its front end wriggles around, even in the dry.

Either way, the Swift lives up to its name and certainly is quick. DIY shifting is standard (a six-speed auto adds $2000), and while a more decisive shift action and more aggressive clutch would enhance the experience, the manual Sport is a must. Its six ratios are bunched tight and combined with a short final-drive for peppy acceleration, but the downside is an engine that revs at 2750rpm at 100km/h in top.

I particularly like the absence of a ‘sport’ button too, which is often used by other brands to sharpen key controls. The Sport is permanently in sport mode because it says so on the boot. However, a little more exhaust note would add to the cause.

My only other qualm are the hyperactive driver assistance features, with collision warning and lane-departure warnings frequently interrupting the digital turbo boost gauge (one of my favourite features). The safety tech is commendable in a car this price but it shouldn’t detract from the driving experience. So there you have it. The Swift Sport is quick, chuckable and has a ride that won’t snap your neck. Which is lucky because it seems I’m quite capable of doing that by myself.

DANIEL GARDNER