The Swift Sport is available in either three- or five-door guise, priced from £13,999 and £14,499 respectively. This parks it in lukewarm hatch territory, safe in the shadows from hotter alternatives.
If the Swift loses out in one particular area to its rivals, it's that as an older design it doesn't offer some of the high-tech kit now found across the class. City braking, blind-spot indicators, lane departure warning and more are all absent from the kit list, though you do get niceties like DAB radio, sat-nav and keyless entry.
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A key rival is the Ford Fiesta Zetec S. Though the Fiesta’s engine is 587cc and one cylinder down on the Swift’s, its litre of capacity does benefit from forced induction, by way of a turbocharger. Power is therefore a comparable 138bhp, while torque is significantly up on the Swift at 155lb ft. But priced from £17,045, the Fiesta is over £3000 more expensive.
There’s also the Renault Clio GT-Line, which like the Swift is marketed as a warm hatch. But with a 9.9sec 0-62mph time and £17,725 starting price, it’s both slower and pricier. It's also - frankly - not a great deal of fun, despite suspension fettling at the hands of Renaultsport. The Clio's engine lacks the smooth punch of the Fiesta's and the high-revving thrills of the Suzuki, and the dual-clutch gearbox is frustratingly slow. One to avoid.
Peugeot offers its own take on the sub-GTI warm hatch segment with the similarly-named 208 GT Line. Like the Fiesta but unlike the Renault, it uses a three-cylinder powerplant, here in 1199cc format, and a turbocharger. Maximum power is a little down on the cars above at 108bhp, but it's available with a manual gearbox and reaches 60mph in 9.6sec. Like both the Fiesta and the Clio, it also has a sweet chassis, albeit nowhere near as sharp as the proper GTI models, and its interior ambience beats all three of the cars mentioned above. Pricing starts at £16,465.
Vauxhall has recently joined the fray with the Adam S. At £17,475 it's almost as pricey as the Clio, but at 8.5sec to 60mph it's among the quicker cars in this company. Peformance from its turbocharged 1.4-litre engine is strong and it's a competent handler. Well worth a look, but it's worth noting that desirable options like Recaro seats push the already-high price even further up.
Then there’s the Abarth 500 and Mini Cooper. Both are a few hundred pounds more expensive, and both have a premium, chic feel missing in the Suzuki. But dynamically speaking, the cheaper Swift Sport is no less entertaining. It really is something of a bargain, providing sparkling performance for far less money than every other rival.