THE Swift marked a sea-change at Suzuki when it first appeared in 2005.
Almost overnight, the Japanese marque went from being a minor producer of forgettable cheap cars to a creator of stylish yet reasonably priced motors.
Swift, with its almost MINI-like styling, won over an army of new fans and paved the way for equally-impressive new cars such as Celerio, the new Vitara and SX4 S-Cross.
Suzuki, like most wise manufacturers, decided that future Swifts would be different to the outgoing model, but not radically so which means the new versions still have the look of the original 2005 models.
And, again like the wise manufacturers, Suzuki decided to create additional models such as the Swift Sport tested here.
Now Swift Sport has been a great success. What Car? magazine made it their Best Buy car for a fifth successive year last year in the best hot-hatch for under £15,000 prize.
And, true enough, I can’t think of a better cheaper hot-hatch. That’s not to say Swift Sport is perfect.
Its styling is perhaps a little too modest, and the car’s revs at 3,000rpm at 70mph, leaving you looking in vain for a seventh gear. It means motorway speeds are a little noisier than they perhaps should be.
The styling is interesting. Suzuki has purposefully not made it too young and vibrant, preferring to have clean lines, sensible spoilers and attractive alloy wheels to state the car’s intent. And such modesty pays off with competitive insurance group and list price.
Swift is a neat car. Starting at under £9,000, it is bigger than other cars of that price bracket with space for five adults in relative comfort and a boot of 211 litres rising to 512 litres with the seats down.
It’s a tall car - which helps make it feel more spacious - so the handling isn’t as sharp as you might expect for a hot-hatch. And it doesn’t feel or sound quick or harsh when you drive it normally.
But when you put your foot down, it does whip up a head of steam.
Modern Suzukis have much-improved cabins which are more akin to premium models such as MINI than its bargain-basement rivals from Citroen and the like.
The Swift Sport - first introduced in January 2012 - comes highly specified with a high standard kit that includes satellite navigation, DAB radio, USB connection and automatic air conditioning.
At £13,999 for the test version three door and £14,499 for the five-door version, it remains competitively priced.
Swift Sport is available in a choice of four standard metallic paint finishes and is also equipped with seven airbags, cruise control, High Intensity Discharge headlamps, rear privacy glass and 17in alloy wheels. In addition to satellite navigation and DAB radio, the Sport also has voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity and music streaming compatible with iPod or iPhone.
Economy and emissions are good (44.1mpg on a combined run and 147g/km) which means this is a very good real-world car with a sporty edge.
Suzuki Swift Sport three-door
PRICE: £13,999 on the road
ENGINE: A 1,586cc four cylinder unit generating 136ps
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 121mph and 0 to 60mph in 8.7 seconds
COSTS: Town 33.6mpg; country 54.3mpg; combined 44.1mpg
INSURANCE: Group 20A
WARRANTY: Three years, 60,000 miles