Suzuki Swift Sport 2020 road test review

Moving Well | Tim Nicholson | Posted on 17 September 2020

Tim Nicholson takes Suzuki’s Swift Sport fun-machine for a spin.

  • Thumbs up

    Bucketloads of charm, slick gearbox, precise steering, engaging dynamics, unbeatable value for money.

  • Thumbs down

    Not as sophisticated as its newer rivals, cheap cabin materials, missing some driver-assist tech.

  • Perfect for

    Realising that driving a dynamically engaging car doesn’t have to break the bank.

  • Verdict

    The Swift Sport lacks the polish of its pricier rivals, but that doesn’t matter. It’s made for tackling twisty roads and puts the joy back into driving.

The Suzuki Swift has been a favourite of Australians since the early 1980s and it’s still one of the most popular light hatches on the market. The 2020 update built on the 2017 model with additional safety features, a digital speedo, styling tweaks and new colours. The warmed-up Swift Sport has always offered solid bang-for-your-buck motoring, but are these changes enough to keep up with its newer, flashier rivals? 

Price and positioning

Suzuki’s cheap and cheerful image is still one of its key selling points. With the exception of the Vitara Turbo SUV, all Suzuki models retail for less than $30,000. 

The non-Sport Swifts range in price from $18,990 to $25,290 before on-road costs, and the performance-focused Swift Sport comes in at $26,990 for the six-speed manual and $28,990 for the six-speed auto.

Competition comes from a diverse trio of Europeans – the Volkswagen Polo GTI ($32,890 before on-road costs), Ford Fiesta ST ($32,290) and pint-sized Fiat Abarth 595 ($26,990).

The Swift Sport gets a big tick for value for money, especially with the added safety gear. But the standard equipment list is good rather than outstanding. The newer Ford Fiesta ST has more modern features including digital radio, but it also costs about $5000 more. The Suzuki has more kit than the Abarth.

Suzuki Swift Sport 2020 front
Suzuki Swift Sport 2020


Safety first

As part of the ‘Series II’ update, the Swift Sport gains blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and heated power-folding door mirrors on top of the already standard autonomous emergency braking and five-star ANCAP rating. It has a lane-departure warning but misses out on a lane-keeping aid.

The licence plate housing slightly impedes on the reversing camera display, and the thick C-Pillar creates a blind spot, but other than that visibility is adequate. 

The inside story

The Swift Sport’s interior is no-frills but functional. Hard grey plastics dominate but the overall quality is fine. The use of cheaper materials means it can’t match the look and feel of the pricier VW Polo GTI or Ford Fiesta ST.

The dash layout, with the seven-inch infotainment touchscreen housed between the lower air-conditioning dials and vents above it, is simple and user friendly. The infotainment home screen is split into quarters, each with different functions such as audio, satellite navigation and more. It’s reminiscent of previous versions of Ford’s Sync system and is basic but easy to use. There’s no digital radio or wireless charging, but it has a USB and 12-volt outlet. 

Cool red carbon-fibre-look inserts and red stitching on the seats and gear-shift gaiter break up the swathes of grey in the cabin, and the flat-bottom leather sports steering wheel is appealing. Some small performance hatchbacks don’t have enough space between each foot pedal, but they’re well spaced out in the Swift Sport.

The comfortable cloth seats with manual adjustment offer excellent support. There’s little in the way of storage in the centre console, save for some unusual square-shaped cupholders, but the doors hold large bottles. 

Like the Toyota C-HR, the rear door handles are high up on the C-pillar, which makes for a clean design, but they’re not necessary. Door storage is much smaller in the rear and there are no air vents or USB ports. There is, however, a surprising amount of occupant space, specifically head and leg room. You could comfortably fit four adults in the car. 

The boot is deep owing to the absence of a spare tyre – it has a tyre repair kit instead – and the 265-litre cargo capacity is fine but not as generous as the Fiesta ST (311 litres).

Suzuki Swift Sport 2020
Suzuki Swift Sport 2020


On the road

The Swift Sport’s reputation as a lightweight fun machine goes back to the first version from 2005. It’s more refined now, but retains all the right ingredients. Weighing in at just 970 kilograms, the Swift is significantly lighter than the Abarth 595, the Polo GTI and Fiesta ST, which boosts the car’s playful dynamics.  

The peppy 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine pumps out 103kW/230Nm, which is more in line with the Abarth (107kW/206Nm) than the Polo (147kW/320Nm) or Fiesta (147kW/290Nm).

The energetic powertrain loves to be revved right up to the redline and acceleration is brisk rather than lightning quick. The Swift covers the 0-100kmh dash in eight seconds – a second-and-a-half off the Ford. The short-shifting six-speed manual box is slick, and the engine note gets rowdier the higher up the rev range you go. 

It feels built for corners, hugging tight bends with ease and gripping the road. Our test drive was mid-winter and there was some slippage on a very wet section of road. We also encountered a bit of understeer coming into a bend a little too fast, but the ESC and strong brakes helped avert a mishap. The Swift Sport isn’t quite as confident in corners as the Fiesta ST, but it’s still an impressive little machine. 

Steering is precise and feels light around town but the helm gains weight as you gain speed. The ride is a little busy on less-than-perfect roads, but completely fine on smooth surfaces. It doesn’t have the harsh ride of the recently departed Renault Clio RS so you could easily live with it as a daily drive. Cabin insulation could be better, but the Suzuki is built to a price, so it’s forgivable. 

We came close to Suzuki’s official fuel economy claim of 6.1 litres per 100 kilometres with 6.7L/100km.

Suzuki Swift Sport

PRICING

List price: $26,990 before on-road costs.

Price as tested: $26,990 before on-road costs.

Model range: $18,990-$28,990 before on-road costs. 

DRIVETRAIN

1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, six-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive.

Power: 103kW@5500rpm.

Torque: 230Nm@2500-3500rpm.

Wheels: 195/50 R17.

FUEL

95 RON petrol, 37-litre fuel tank.

Consumption: 6.1L/100km (government test), 6.7L/100km (RACV test). 

Emissions: 141g/km CO2 emissions. 

STANDARD SAFETY

Five-star ANCAP rating, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, weaving alert, adaptive cruise control, reversing camera.

STANDARD FEATURES

Heated door mirrors, 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, keyless entry and start, digital climate control, digital speedometer. 

WARRANTY

Five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. Five-year/100,000-kilometre capped-price servicing. Twelve-month/10,000-kilometre service intervals.

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