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Alex on: Honesty

I spent some time in a Suzuki Swift Sport. It was good, honest fun.


I don't like liars. Actually, I may like some liars, but that's because they lie convincingly enough that I haven't detected they're 90 percent bum water. So let me start again -- I don't like bad liars. They want you to think so much of them, yet use so much creative energy formulating utter tosh that I wonder whether or not they'd be far better off putting it in to something more productive. Like basket weaving. Or crochet.

Either way, a bad fib is poor form in the same way that "forgetting" your wallet when you're with a bunch of mates is. However, we're all liars when you think about it. How many times have you told a friend, "Yeah mate, I'll get that done ASAP", or that "It's in the post, seriously"? More times than you'd care to admit, I'll wager. And that's ok. You're allowed a certain number of tiny little lies to tide you over, but enormous ones? Nah, that's not cool. Telling someone you're not married as you pop your wedding ring in your pocket, for example, isn't on.

Automotive marketing departments lie. A lot. How many times have you seen a perfectly bland econobox with the word 'sport' added to its name? Did you know you can get a 'sport' version of the Toyota Auris (Corolla in other bits of the world)? A friend once drove one for a spell and summed it up perfectly: "It's a car for people who hate driving."

So why is there a sporting version? There isn't. It's a lie. A trim level for people who don't have a clue about cars beyond the fact its transport to say "Oh yes, we bought the sports version because we thought it'd be fun." Oh dear. In this case it's 132bhp and 0 to 62 mph in 10 seconds. TEN. I shudder to think what the slow one's like...

The ones that say "sport" but aren't are bad, but the ones that claim to offer everything on a plate but don't are worse. The Audi RS Q3, for example, is a wonderful example of what happens when everyone in the room says 'yes'. You get a bonkers fast car with a silly engine and an 'RS' badge on the back. Great, except it's as far removed from the 'RS' ethos as you can get. I'm pleased it exists, less so that it's got that particular badge.

Those are two ends of the scale, but there are some occasions that the word, and marketing surrounding it, are bang on. One such case is the Suzuki Swift Sport, the most honest little car I've driven in a while.

Until I'd borrowed it I'd never had a go in a Swift before. I like a little car as much as the next guy, but the opportunity to go and play in Suzuki's speedy hatch hadn't presented itself.

From the outside it's a looker -- a sort of Mini-esque affair, if I'm honest. It's cute, quirky and rather lovely. Its black grille looks great and the twin exhausts at the back hint that it'll probably give you a good time as well.

Inside it's...pretty plasticy. It's a cheap hatchback, not a Roller, so it's not going to be covered in bits of rare cow. In the UK it costs less than £14,000, which isn't very much money at all, so expecting every surface to be modeled on a Cherub's buttock is a bit much.

Once you're comfy, and you will be thanks to the ace seats, you can fire up its dinky 134bhp 1.6-litre engine and be treated to a pleasingly old skool hum. There's no forced induction, no trickery, just a naturally aspirated engine asking to be revved.

So rev it you do. It's got an easy enough gear change, so playing with its 118 lb. ft. isn't much of a chore. You do have to chase the torque though, a downside for some, but if you're in a spirited mood you'll have a blast with it.

It's a perky handler, too. Flinging it around is a blast and its steering, while a touch imprecise, is certainly good enough to play with.

Speed isn't its forté, mind. Zero to 62mph comes in 8.7 seconds and its top speed is just north of 120mph. Hardly a sports car...or is it? The 1.8-litre Mazda MX-5 has the same top speed and takes longer to get to 62mph.

Even its full name is apt -- it's made by Suzuki, it's quite swift and it feels sporty.

I really liked the Swift Sport. I liked that is low price didn't mean it was nasty, that it was too low-fi. It was small, buzzy and fun and reminded me of an old-skool hot hatch, a Mk 1 Golf GTI for 2014. No pretensions, just a bit more go for those who want it.

It's honest, and that's fine with me.