THE last Suzuki Swift Sport surprised everyone, and became the unlikely darling of the small hot hatch world. It was fun, fast, nimble and exciting and, more than anything, it was cheap.

Less than £14,000 was all it took to get into the pocket rocket everyone started talking about and it was, justifiably, a huge hit. But it’s now been replaced as part of the Swift’s huge makeover and the new version also comes with the all-important Sport badge.

So expectations are high. The new Swift is great, a worthy successor to the last one which all but re-wrote the small car rule-book. But does the Swift Sport live up the legend?

Well, on paper, it gets off to a rocky start. The new Swift Sport costs £18,000. It has a turbocharged engine rather than the old normally-aspirated lump and it only has four more bhp to lug around that new five-door bodyshell.

Read a little more of the spec-sheet, however, and things start to look up. That new turbo engine has significantly more torque than the outgoing Sport engine and, although it’s sprouted some extra doors, it’s a little bit lighter than the old one.

This, on the road, translates to a lot of fun, obviously. It feels quick, light, agile and sporty. It really does feel every bit as good as the old one. Just in a bit of a different way.

The big difference, obviously, is the engine. The turbocharger does nothing to diminish the fun, as there’s barely any lag and when it’s on-boost the 138bhp is so accessible and flexible, you barely notice the forced induction.

This means you can attack every bend and straight with as much vigour as you like, without having to actually drive along at racing pace. And that was part of the magic of the old Swift Sport. It’s fun at all speeds.

The thing is, in reality, the Swift Sport isn’t really all that fast. 0-60mph takes eight seconds and it’ll run out of puff at just 130mph. But, trust me, with this kind of car that really doesn’t matter.

At comfortably less than 1,000kg and with decent brakes, communicative steering and short-throw gearbox it is an absolute hoot. Speed, in this instance, is not everything. It’s about having fun. And the Swift Sport still delivers that in spades.

Faults? There’s a few. the plastics in the interior are a bit cheap and boot space isn’t as good as you might think, given the extra doors. I wish it sounded a little more dramatic and I’m not sold on the looks. I thought it would grow on me, but it just hasn’t. Shame.

And it’s pricey. But, that said, £18,000 really is it. You get so much standard kit at the base price you’ll not need to spend any more. And the rear seat space is among the best in class.

Don’t expect brilliant fuel economy if you drive it how it begs to be driven, but give it to your grandmother for the day and you might see Suzuki’s claimed 47.1mpg on the display. And 135g/km of CO2 is pretty reasonable.

More and more cars are being fitted with turbochargers these days, in a bid to down-size and save fuel. And it often means a loss of character. But in the Swift Sport, no harm is done.

So it’s still got plenty of the sparkle the old Swift Sport had and it’s definitely still a benchmark car. Is it better than the last one? Well, that rather depends on your preference and your budget. But I think it is. Just.