The problem with this car,” I said to my son, “is that it’s not as much fun as I thought it was going to be.” My son, who is 21 months old, was more interested in his box of raisins than talking to me, but I could see in the rear-view mirror that he approved of the car, because the high rear seat gave him a great view of buses and cats. And actually, when the traffic cleared and I could drop down a gear and throw it around a bit, the short, tight chassis showed a glimpse of what it could do if I had more road and less toddler.
Our Swift Sport didn’t look promising in the car park: boring silver, no flamboyant bodywork other than a tiny spoiler at the top of the rear window. Some might like this subtle approach to boy-racerhood, but I say if you’re going to spend the extra three grand on the 1.6-litre, 135bhp version, you want something to show for it.
Perhaps, with keyless entry and an electric, “light-touch” button on the tailgate to make opening the boot easier with armfuls of shopping, this is the responsible face of the hot-hatch class. Maybe it’s a car for the harassed middle-aged, who can’t be doing with rock-hard suspension or a booming exhaust rattling through the cabin (they’ve worked on sound-absorbing silencers, all the better for listening to The Archers).
So I found myself marvelling, not at the 0-62mph time of 8.7sec, the lively chassis or new six-speed manual gearbox, but at the decent rear legroom for something with such a short wheelbase, and boot space that could almost accommodate a collapsed Maclaren buggy. And there’s something a bit wrong with that.