- Insanely fun behind the wheel
- Grunty yet economical engine
- Good value compared with hot hatch elite
- Not amazingly practical
- Short service intervals
- Missing out on key equipment
Japanese car maker Suzuki is at the top of its game when it comes to small cars. For over 50 years, Suzuki has been making top quality tiny cars that appeal to the world over – just look at its dominance in India and you’ll see what we mean. In Australia, Suzuki’s best (and also best-selling) product for over a decade now, has been the Swift, thanks to a combination of funky styling, good value for money, excellent reliability and fun driving dynamics. The Swift Sport we tested has to be the cherry on top of the cake. It’s just been updated, so is the 2021 Suzuki Swift Sport the best warm hatch to buy? Let’s find out.
Suzuki recently updated the Swift range for 2021 with slight new styling tweaks, new available tech and a revised colour palette. The entry-level Swift GL Navigator can be had from as little as $21,490 drive away, while the mid-spec GLX Turbo is $25,990 drive away. We tested the top of the tree Swift Sport, which is priced from $30,990 in manual form.
Price & Specs: 7/10
Priced from $30,990 drive away as a manual (the six-speed auto is $2,000 more), the 2021 Suzuki Swift Sport is not cheap – especially considering the 2007 Swift Sport manual retailed for $23,990 plus on-road costs. Having said that, the latest generation Swift is much more sophisticated than its grandfather, with a turbocharged engine, LED lighting, auto emergency braking as standard equipment.
Other 2021 Suzuki Swift Sport standard kit includes a leather steering wheel, cruise control, auto lights, LED daytime running lights, front fog lights, single-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, heated and electric-folding mirrors, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, a six-speaker sound system, 17-inch alloy wheels, sports fronts seats and intermittent wipers.
Options are limited to metallic paint ($595 for ‘Champion Yellow’, ‘Super Black Pearl’, ‘Mineral Grey’, ‘Speedy Blue’ and ‘Burning Red’) while ‘Flame Orange’ also comes with a black painted roof for $1,095 – it would definitely be the colour we’d choose.
Safety kit includes six airbags, stability control, auto emergency braking (AEB) with forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors with a reversing camera, lane departure warning and auto high beam.
We’d call that the bare minimum for a car costing over $30,000 drive away and it would be nice to see features such as wireless phone charging, rear USB ports, auto wipers and a digital radio made available.
Competitors to the 2021 Suzuki Swift Sport are few and far between – traditionally, the Ford Fiesta ST and VW Polo GTI have offered higher performance but also a higher price tag as they’re both available from around $36,000 but add 40+ kW of power and more kit to the Suzuki. There’s also the new 150kW Hyundai i20 N that’ll launch later this year, though pricing is yet to be announced for that. In this regard, the Swift Sport looks pretty good value for money, even if it used to be available for around $27,000 drive away pre-2020.
Performance & Fuel Economy: 9/10
When we reviewed the Suzuki Vitara Turbo small SUV recently, the 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder ‘BoosterJet’ engine was definitely the star of the show with ample grunt, a nice noise and pretty good fuel economy – now imagine that combined with a lovely six-speed manual gearbox and lower kerb weight. It’s a fabulous drivetrain that impresses you with a surprising amount of keenness. Suzuki claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of just over 7.0 seconds, and it feels quicker thanks to its short gearing – second gear runs out at just 92km/h, which means a lot of shifting. There is a six-speed auto available, but really, a hot hatch should be a manual.
Its peak 230Nm torque hits at just 2,500rpm, which gives the car excellent drivability around town to help fuel economy – Suzuki claims just 6.1L/100km in combined driving, and we recorded 6.4L/100km, which is excellent. Like rivals, you must fill it with minimum 95RON fuel.
Combining the peachy engine, the solid gearbox, short ratios and quick steering, the Swift Sport is a very fun hot hatch to drive hard. It’s a car that puts a massive smile on your face, which is something not to be taken lightly. Yet it can also be quite efficient in normal driving too.
Ride & Handling: 9/10
The fun to drive feel of the Swift’s drivetrain continues to its chassis, with a seriously well sorted chassis that makes it feel like a playful puppy – it’s certainly more fun than a VW Polo GTI, and close to the legendary Fiesta ST. The Swift Sport’s ride copes with changes in the road quite well, and it means that you can drive it hard without being affected too much by bumps. The steering is nicely quick too, and yet surprisingly heavy for excellent feel – the steering wheel rim is lovely to hold as well.
But like the engine, when you’re driving normally it’s comfortable and well damped, even with Sydney’s rubbish roads. It’s also got 17-inch wheels as standard, which makes its ride quality better than the Fiesta ST – though that car out-corners the Swift (and pretty much everything else on the planet). Only the small windows, large rear mirror and high road noise levels subtract from the overall experience.
Interior & Practicality: 7/10
If there’s something that detracts from the 2021 Suzuki Swift Sport experience, it’s the interior. It’s far from horrible, but it does feel closer to the entry level car’s $21,490 drive away pricing – or, in reality, closer to its $16k starting price when it was launched a few years ago. Again, it’s not horrible, but soft plastics don’t feature and it’s rather basic in both material quality and design.
Sport-specific touches include the lovely body hugging sports seats, as well as the red and black interior trim with red stitching – but that’s it. The dashboard plastics are all hard, and the lower centre console is pretty flimsy as well – still, the plastics are hard wearing and are built to last, it would just nice to have a soft-touch dashboard.
Centre of the Swift’s cabin (regardless of the model) is a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation and a reversing camera. It’s a perfectly fine system to use, though the menu layout could be more cohesive and the screen quality isn’t great. Thankfully, the Sport comes with a reasonable six-speaker sound system – Swift models below the GLX Turbo come with an appalling two-speaker unit.
In terms of practicality, the Swift Sport offers nice door bins, two small cup holders ahead of the gearbox and a covered centre arm rest – though that’s it, really. The rear seat is even more spartan with a single map pocket and a bottle holder in each door – no rear USB ports, no centre arm rest, nothing.
The space on offer is more generous than you’d expect however – I fit reasonably well behind my six-foot driving position.
The boot in the 2021 Suzuki Swift Sport is not big, however, at just 265-litres. There is a large boot lip between the floor and opening, there is only one hook to hold items in place, and when the seats are folded – with 918L of space – there’s a large ridge between the seat base and floor. There’s also no spare wheel, only a repair kit.
Service & Warranty: 8/10
Like other new Suzuki products in Australia, the Swift Sport comes with a five-year/unlimited km warranty with five years of roadside assistance included. That’s positive, though the Swift Sport’s 10,000km service intervals are lacklustre.
Servicing the Swift Sport over five years/50,000km costs $1,475 (or $295 for each service, on average) – not bad, though keep in mind a Ford Fiesta ST costs $1,571 to service over five years, but that’s to a longer 75,000km.
The 2021 Suzuki Swift Sport DiscoverAuto Rating: 8.0/10
We throughly enjoyed the 2021 Suzuki Swift Sport. It’s a car that possesses many qualities close to the heart of the petrolhead: it’s handsome, it’s well screwed together, it’s good value in comparison to other hot hatches, it’s reasonably practical and reliable. Most of all, it’s bloody fun to drive, it’s quick yet economical, going about its business with tonnes of character.
Of course, it’s not perfect – it’s around $4,000 more expensive than it was previously, it lacks a lot of kit you’d expect for the price and it’s not very practical, but those flaws are completely outweighed by how well the Swift Sport drives and by just how much fun you can have behind the wheel. It’s a true pocket rocket, and for that, we absolutely love it.