Bemoaning the lack of small, fast, cheap, reliable hot hatches? Bemoan no longer
By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, January 29, 2021 / Loading comments
Think of the most unreliable car brand you can. Now imagine that company building a revvy little buzzbox, a Panda 100HP type of thing whose main role in life was to be mercilessly thrashed on a daily basis. Would you buy it?
Probably not. To buy that kind of car you'd need to have faith in its ability to take a beasting, and that means sticking to a brand with a good rep for reliability.
So now, what's the first reliable car brand that pops into your head? Honda? Decent shout, but for Shed there's another name that's at least as good, if not better: Suzuki. Like Honda, they have a really strong motorcycle heritage. Modern four-cylinder bike engines don't produce serious power until the tacho needle passes 10,000rpm. Based on Suzuki's customer satisfaction scores, the engineering learnings from this arm of the business do knock on in a positive way to their less stressed car engines.
Which is a very long-winded way of welcoming this 2007 Suzuki Swift Sport to Shed of the Week. This model of Swift went on sale in 2005, boosted by the advertising stylings of Brylcreemed footballist Christiano Ronaldo It was a well built and nippy enough little thing even in its early 1.3 and smaller forms, but then in late 2005 the 1.6 Sport was launched, a different ball of wax altogether, and that's what we've got here.
You can easily see the bike DNA in the 1.6's naturally aspirated twin cam VVT four-cylinder engine. High-lift cams, forged pistons and beefy valve springs gave 123hp at 6,800rpm and 109lb ft at 4,800rpm, good numbers for anyone prepared to put in a smidge of effort into stirring the five-speed pot. Mk2s had six-speed boxes which were better on the motorway (the five-speed is doing 4,000rpm in top at 70mph compared to the Mk2's 3,000rpm in sixth) but we are talking under £1,500 here, remember. The gearshift action was sweet, as was the steering, and the stiffer-than-normal suspension gave a nice blend of control and comfort (ish).
You also got disc brakes all round, twin exhausts, and the red sport seats you see here, Recaros being a rarely ticked option. Shed is fairly sure that famed PH Ringmeister Dale and others used to bung rent-a-Swifts around the Nordschleife with gay abandon. They are fun with a capital ph.
2017 looks to have been a tough year for this particular car. A lot of work was needed to get it through the 2018 MOT, but it was mainly consumable stuff – brakes and suspension – with an emissions issue on the side. That was all sorted and the Oct 2019 test was clear. This December just gone it failed on a wiper blade. It's not known whether the advisories for edge-worn front tyres and play in the front ARBs have been attended to. The 17in tyres are a slightly weird size, 195/45, which reduces your choice a bit and increases the price to around £90 a corner for a decent brand. Taken altogether though we seem to be looking at a car that's been used in the prescribed manner and, with just 100k miles covered, should be raring to go for a good few more yet. Very little goes wrong.
Shed isn't sure of the significance of the single red letter on the front numberplate. In his greybeard innocence he wonders if it might be some kind of motoring tattoo? Mrs Shed has some tattoos. She's always liked honey and has for many years kept a couple of hives in the garden. To celebrate her love for the furry little stingers she asked the local tattooist artist to inscribe one on each of her bum cheeks. Unfortunately, the doped-up old git misunderstood and thought she meant the letter B, prompting Shed to inquire who the hell Bob was when she lifted up her nightie and bent over to show him the finished artwork.
As a final thought for the day, has anybody asked themselves why German car firms never got into this manic mini stuff? Or did they? Answers on a postcard.
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