Full fat, no flab

Three-pot entree is finished; itís time to get stuck into Suzukiís main course

TONY OíKANE

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 Iíd be able to hop straight into an even more appealing Suzi Ė the feisty Swift Sport.

NEW ARRIVAL

And so as I motored down the street toward Suzuki Australiaís headquarters, in Melbourneís industrial south-west, I found myself involuntarily grinning. The third-gen Swift Sport was a giggle-inducing joy at its local launch at Victoriaís Broadford race track, and Iíve been itching to spend more time in it since. However, as I steered into Suzukiís 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.

Donít get me wrong. Iím all for the tasteful application of decals on cars, and anyone who knows me will confirm that I have a peculiar fetish for í80s-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 Ė I appreciate that the former loudly proclaim this to be the SPORT, in case the Champion Yellow paint didnít clue you in Ė but the winged eyeliner on the headlamps and the cloven hoof bonnet decals seem unnecessary. Theyíre also printed in a faux-carbon weave, another of my pet hates.

Or maybe Iím just being a snob. Iíll let you know if I still hate the stickers in four months.

I know, I know, Iím sounding tremendously ungrateful, but hereís the thing: the Swift Sport could be plastered in a My Little Pony livery and Iíd probably still drive it. Even the cringiest exterior accessories canít diminish the sheer fun-factor of the spiciest Swift.

LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT

Bonnet is comically tiny. Cabin is spacious despite dinky 2450mm wheelbase

And itís 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 ainít your granís Suzuki. Iím 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 doesnít bear enough differentiation from the GLX Turbo that sits beneath it. Iím 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 letís not forget this carís 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. Itís got astonishing flexibility in around-town driving thanks to an abundance of low-end torque, and the Sportís 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 doesnít 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 Iíve been able to do in it so far Ė I picked up my decal-clad Sport just a few days before heading off on a threeweek holiday. My loss will be a colleagueís gain, but once Iím back I intend to give the Sport a damn good strap Ė hopefully at speeds fast enough to peel off a few stickers.

TONY OíKANE

Slippy, not grippy

If thereís one thing that Iíve already taken a disliking to, itís the gloss-black trim piece that encircles the lower half of the Sportís D-shaped steering wheel. Iím a big proponent of steering wheels being round and this flattened section feels slippery to the touch, marks up easily with finger grease and feels completely at odds to the far more pleasant texture of the leather thatís next to it. A good reason to keep your hands at 9 and 3.

Bulldog looks, no bark

Suzuki, can you turn up the volume please? One would think the company would be eager to show the fact that the Sport is now turbocharged, but thereís a disappointing lack of aural theatrics to this force-fed mill. With hardly any recirc noises on throttle lift, a docile exhaust note and no spooling sounds when the boost gauge is winding up, the Sport doesnít offer enough joy for an enthusiastís ears.

SUZUKI SWIFT SPORT

Date acquired: April 2018

Price as tested: $25,600

This month: 775km @ 5.7L/100km

Overall: 775km @ 5.7L/100km