Jeremy Funny how car companies go through peaks and troughs with their range of cars. The arrival of the Mazda2 in 2007 was a definite turning point for the Japanese manufacturer.
The 2 was an instant hit and went on to win World Car of the Year in 2008 – no small achievement. Perhaps because the car it replaced, the rather dull 121, was nowhere near as good and just a re-worked Ford Fiesta.
The Mazda2 is still a sibling of the Fiesta but looks much prettier, despite having no major bodywork design overhaul since launch five years ago.
Light, fuel efficient and exceptionally well engineered for a little car, it’s still a match for some of the very latest supermini offerings, such as the current VW Polo, Honda Jazz and Kia Rio.
But when a new version is surely launched over the next year or two, I think there’s every chance the Mazda2 could go to the top of the pile.
Jeremy The Mazda2 is one of those city cars that rather blends in with the crowd. It’s well styled and almost cute but you aren’t going to turn heads like you would driving a Citroen DS3 or an Alfa Romeo Mito.
Never mind because it still has more about it than the bland Ford Fiesta and is something of a revelation once you slip behind the steering wheel. Why? Because just like the Suzuki Swift, this is a car that loves to be driven hard and rewards you with a thoroughly entertaining drive.
The 2 has such a short wheelbase that it is very controllable at speed. I found it very easy to turn in hard to a corner and come out the other side on exactly the right driving line.
If it all goes horribly wrong, then the good news is that this Sport version has Dynamic Stability Control to get you out of a fix. The 16-inch alloys add to the grip and the sporty seats keep you and your front seat passenger firmly in place.
Good things come in small packages and the Mazda2 is no exception.
Jeremy What is it about white cars that attracts flies? The front of our Swift Sport looks like it has driven through a plague of the little blighters – a photographer’s nightmare, if we had one.
This morning, the car was covered in more of them, basking in the sunshine. Not for long though. Fifty yards down the road and the Swift was buzzing along at high speed blowing the cobwebs off.
Remarkable how the front of the Swift looks like a Mini – except the Suzuki is considerably cheaper and goes around corners a lot better a standard Cooper.
It’s still putting a smile on my face – shame about the acres of plastic trim on the inside and the fact you can’t spec it up with sat nav and leather seats. Otherwise, I’ll take a grey one, please.
Jeremy Anybody who remembers the last generation Swift Sport might have feared the change to this current model a couple of years ago would water down the fun. Not a bit of it.
I’ve found it much more fun than the popular Ford Fiesta Zetec S – it also looks that little bit different to the ubiquitous Ford which I’ve seen several of already today.
The six-speed gearbox fitted in the latest version makes for a much more usable drive, quieter motorway speeds and improved performance. It also squeezes out a few more mpg, although you might struggle to achieve the 44mpg claimed because the Suzuki encourages drivers to push along.
On the down side, the boot is tiny! It looks slightly bigger than the Vauxhall Adam but not by much. You can fold down the back seats easily enough and increase the load area to 500 litres but four people and their luggage won’t fit!
Jeremy Just back from a Friday morning spin down some busy A-roads in the Swift Sport. I’m finding any excuse to drive it at the moment because this car has lashings of something so many of its competitors lack – fun.
The first time I drove a Golf GTI 30 years ago, I remember being blown away by the power and agility of was otherwise a standard family hatchback. It’s the same feeling with the Suzuki – except it doesn’t have quite same the level of performance on tap.
But don’t let that put you off, the Swift is so beautifully balanced, so agile on the corners that it just urges you to ‘make progress’ wherever possible.
Sure, the Swift isn’t turbocharged like many sporty hatchbacks these days but the normally aspirated, 1.6 petrol engine is gutsy. It’s not ‘hot’ from a standing start but keep the revs up and it flies!
For gentlemen of certain age, the Swift Sport will turn the clock back to great GTIs like the Golf, Peugeot 205 and Fiesta. Uncomplicated, forgiving and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.