Almost every manufacturer now makes a hot hatchback. By fitting uprated suspension, bigger brakes and a more powerful engine, carmakers can immediately turn a standard supermini into a potent performance car. In this regard, the Suzuki Swift Sport is as good as a hot hatchback can get. It's a great value car that undercuts rivals like the Volkswagen Polo GTI and Renaultsport Twingo, yet offers a really exhilarating drive regardless of road or weather conditions.
It's safe but entertaining to drive thanks to a capable front-wheel drive chassis that offers 134bhp from a lively 1.6-litre petrol engine. It's got plenty of grip, an addictive exhaust note and a slick, six-speed manual gearbox. Adding to the entertaining drive is the comfortable ride. It's firm enough not to roll around in corners, but not so much so that you suffer backache on longer journeys. Very few hot hatches manage the compromise so well, but the Swift Sport definitely strikes the right balance.
The Swift's bargain list price is made even more attractive when you consider its extensive standard kit list. It gets sports seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and Bluetooth connectivity. The only choice you have to make is what colour you’d like it in – but even metallic paint is a no-cost option. Low finance rates and competitive servicing deals, as well as 44mpg fuel economy and 147g/km emissions mean it should be relatively cheap to run, too.
Practicality is the Swift's only compromise, yet the boot is still considerably bigger than that you’d find in a MINI Cooper. However, there are plenty of useful cubbies and the rear seats are just about big enough to house a couple of adults in comfort. So if you’re looking for a good value, well-rounded hot hatchback, the Suzuki Swift Sport is CarBuyer's pick of a very talented bunch.