This car offers the performance and equipment of a VW Polo 16V for less than the price of a base model Nissan Micra. Why it is continually snubbed by the motoring press is beyond me - in my opinion it's a second-hand bargain.
The engine is a bit coarse when driven hard, but gives decent performance (0-60 in about 10 seconds, top speed an indicated 115mph) with great economy (43mpg with ease), and offers relaxed cruising: 100mph equates to 4500rpm, 1000rpm lower than in the Polo 16V.
Service intervals are annoyingly short though, at 6000 miles, and Suzuki servicing is not cheap. Reliability has been typically Japanese - excellent once the initial teething troubles (water leak/airbag fitment) were sorted.
I am getting a bit of transmission whine in first and second gears though, which, given some other reviewers' comments about early gearbox failure, is a bit worrying.
Handling is reasonable - I fitted an OMP strut brace to stiffen things up at the front, although whether it makes much difference is probably a matter of personal opinion. The overall bias is heavily towards understeer, which is either worrying or enjoyable, depending on how you feel about lift-off oversteer. Either way, it is at least predictable.
Ride quality is average, but the steering is sharp, quick and very light (and the turning circle is tiny, making for easy parking). A good set of lowering springs and shocks would improve things: the springs on their own would be a cheaper option (Spax do a kit for £130), but would probably kill the standard shocks.
The interior is again reasonable - lots of cheap grey plastic, which shows scuffs and scrapes quite easily, and some fairly unimaginative design. But at least everything is laid out logically, the dials aren't obscured by the wheel as in some cars I've owned, and you can reach all the switches without being a contortionist, which is pretty much all you need.
Seats are good and firm, with plenty of lateral support (as the GS is the only hatchback model the UK gets, 'sports' seats are fitted as standard). Rear-seat passengers don't fare so well, though; they'll have plenty of headroom, but nowhere to put their legs. In this respect, the hatchback is virtually a 2+2.
The omission of a sunroof as a standard feature was an odd decision though, considering the rest of the equipment that the GS offers, and typically, the first owner of my car was a bit of a tightwad, and didn't shell out for a sunroof or air-con.
The Clarion stereo is rubbish - especially with just the original front speakers - replace them as soon as you can.
Another minor gripe is that the fuel gauge is hopelessly innacurate, resting on empty when there's at least another gallon still to go. It's more reliable to just reset the trip milometer every tankful, and remember you can do over 400 miles on one tank.
Stuff for the future - boost the performance a little by fitting a performance air-filter, drilling the air box, and having the engine chipped. I also want to fit clear side repeaters and larger alloy wheels (the 14" TSW Stealths don't fill the arches enough).
Overall? Good all-round bargain package, and with the standard body kit and spoiler pack, it even looks good. Would I buy another one? Maybe a GS-R next time: with a 120BHP 1.8L engine in the same light-weight body it should be even more fun.