Parkers overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 4.5

Just one engine finds its way under the bonnet of the new Swift Sport. It’s a brand new unit developed specially for this car, and takes the form of a 1.6-litre petrol engine that simply loves to be revved.

Power is rated at 136bhp, up from 125bhp in the previous model, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Torque has risen from 148Nm to 160Nm, with peak pulling power available at 4,400rpm – a significant 400rpm earlier - meaning the driver has better performance over the whole rev range.

The sprint to 62mph takes 8.7 seconds (up 0.2 seconds over the old Sport), while the top speed has dropped 3mph to 121mph.

While on paper the Suzuki Swift Sport performance figures don’t immediately scream ‘sports car’, the engine’s character is an exciting one. It seems happiest when the rev counter is chasing the red line, a sporty exhaust note accompanying the exhilarating acceleration. You do pay a penalty when you slow down, however. The engine can feel slightly lacklustre when you’re not driving like you’ve nicked it and you find yourself working the bespoke six-speed manual gearbox (the only option available) pretty hard to make progress.

The Sport does feel noticeably quicker than the previous model though, thanks in part to the addition of the extra gear. If you factor in the efficiency advantages of six gears instead of five it starts to make a lot of sense mating that engine to this ‘box.

Hardcore drivers may ultimately want a little more grunt and perhaps a shorter throw for the gear lever, but there’s no denying in this guise the Sport is an exciting little package.

Probably the Swift Sport’s trump card, Suzuki has managed an impressive feat with its new ‘halo’ model. Not only does it handle extremely well when driven enthusiastically, it also absorbs bumps and jolts with aplomb and boasts relative comfort compared to other small sport-focused hatchbacks.

The chassis has been reworked both front and rear and tuned specifically for UK roads. This shows up most when considering the ride, which is far more refined than before, offering a supple and solid experience without feeling crashy or brash.

Where other firms choose to fit the biggest wheels and lowest profile tyres available, Suzuki has gone for comparatively sensible 17-inch lightweight alloys and the Swift Sport is all the better for it.

Once again though, this iteration of Swift really comes into its own when you’re driving quickly. It turns into corners in an extremely measured and balanced fashion no matter how hard you push it, and is very rewarding when you dial up the speed a little.

The electrically assisted power steering seems well-mapped too, with good feel and feedback through the corners. There’s a slightly vague feel when driving straight ahead, but nothing that will make life difficult.