SUZUKI'S compact Swift hatchback is one of those models that seems to slip almost un-noticed under most people's radar – that is unless it's the Swift Sport which is lighting up plenty of people's imagination.
So far this year it has picked-up the What Car? Best Buy Hot Hatchback award and the Best Hot Hatch title from Carbuyer.co.uk – so they should know a thing or two.
A zippy little pocket-rocket, the three-door Swift Sport has all the street credibility you could want from its neatly crafted panel work to a punchy 1.6-litre VVT petrol engine.
Visually it seems to hug the ground with its large double section front grille flanked by distinctive finned fog lamp bezels and wrap around high intensity headlights.
The stubby body, which is slightly larger and heavier than before, has a strong shoulder line balanced by extended sills that lead into a broad functional hatch topped by a roof spoiler. Having said the outside works a treat, the interior is perhaps less convincing. Suzuki has still to crack creating European flavour cabins, its choice of black and silver materials is still a little hard and harsh on the eye and to the touch.
But, everything is neatly arranged and laid out such as the five-dial instrument cluster and the controls have a solid feel to them.
As a three-door the Sport is slightly less practical than the five-door alternative in the Swift range but it fits the image and it does have the ability to fold down the rear seats to enlarge the rather mean 211 litres boot into a more practical 528 litres. Suzuki has done a lot of work on its now more powerful 136bhp (previously 123bhp) petrol engine, including the addition of a variable intake system, so that it is ten per cent more efficient and cleaner.
The engineers claim that it should be able to return close on 45mpg which is perfectly possible in everyday situations while emissions have been cut to 147 g/km.
Specification from this range topper includes keyless entry and push button engine start, 17-inch alloy wheels, figure hugging sports front seats, leather steering wheel, Bluetooth connection, climate control, cruise control, tinted glass, rear privacy glass and a six speaker radio CD audio system.
As the performance flagship for the Swift line-up, the Sport does its job brilliantly, giving a new oomph to a model that could almost disappear without trace.
It's unusual to be saying this but, the Sport is definitely the pick of the bunch for many reasons when it comes to the Swift family – it's an affordable, everyday hot hatchback that makes you smile.