Suzuki Swift Sport & Audi A1 35 TFSI

You may not believe it, but these two are closely matched

Every now and then, quirk of fate will press two rivals together who may not have quite have thought that they were so before the encounter. Like when the Audi A1 35 TFSI and Suzuki Swift Sport rocked up on our driveway a couple of hours apart. Both of them black too, mind you. Almost as if it was written.

Next day we put them to the test and came back scratching our heads — could these two really be such close competitors? Absolutely — and it turned out that we had a most unexpected rivalry on our hands — what a pleasant surprise!

Inherently apart
Suppose their inherent differences set them apart — well in our minds anyway — there is a significant difference between these black baby performance hatches in price for starters and then you don’t really put the two when it comes to such as build quality too. But those two facets actually serve to even it all out and when you consider performance, it is not often that we come across to rivals so very matched in how they bounded down out test strip.
Which begs the question — is the Audi worth the hefty price premium, considering cars like the Swift can match it in certain areas? Well let’s take a look see...

At first glance, both cars look good, they are both aggressive and they have also taken a giant leap forward from their predecessors. Although there’s nothing wrong with the Audi, I’ll have to say that from a sporty hot hatch point of view, the Swift looks highly appealing and potentially better touches the spot than the Audi. 

A good start for the considerably cheaper alternative, but remember we're comparing the range topping Suzuki to a midrange Audi here — and there are German muscles coming later, we hear.

Step inside...
However it is on the inside where things start to make sense from a price disparity point of view. The Audi has a fantastic cabin, which unlike many of its small hatchback rivals, is loaded with the very latest in car high tech. In fact the A1’s cabin build quality almost disguises the fact that it's merely a hatchback — you’d be quite forgiven for believing you were sitting in a TT or an A6. 

The difference between the two car’s cabin quality is quite noticeable and if you take away the Sport trim bits and seats, the Swift feels cheap and its infotainment system seems heavily outdated versus the Audi. But hang  on a second — check the differnce in price  — we can’t have our cake and eat it now, can we? So it’s still all pretty well balanced.

Which is also a bit of a quandary because when it comes to driving these black beauties, the choice between them becomes ever more of a challenge. On one hand, the Swift feels more aggressive and fun, and on the other the Audi is more composed, yet it handles extremely well too. The Swift sounds better and I found myself hooning it a lot more in the Suzuki than I did with the Audi.

Too close to call
So the Suzuki is typically ballsy baby hot hatch fun, but then if I was going to take a longer journey I’d choose the Audi, and I certainly would still enjoy the twistier bits of road. That said, the Swift is my clear choice for pure fun.

Now one place you cannot split this couple is in performance — just look at the data below  — they deliver almost identical results and where one is a ball hair quicker in one factor, the other punches back a tiny fraction quicker at the next point. Intriguing indeed.  

So, picking one of these two cars over the other on the facts at hand is a most difficult decision. I think at the end of the day, it depends on what you’ll be using the car for. And that also has much to do with who you are. The Audi is perfect for a mature driver, whilst the Swift just forces you to play with it. If it were up to me, I’d take the Swift. But a few years from now I may very well choose the Audi. So it’s more a question of who’s driving

Unexpectedly close
In the end, these fantastic cars were forced into an unexpected rivalry. The Audi’s relatively heftier price tag is still more than acceptable, but Ingolstadt should perhaps keep an eye out on its competitors, some of which are developing increasingly competitive cars at a much lower price, just like with this Swift Sport. — Giordano Lupini

Images -- Giordano Lupini