Suzuki has done it.
Emulating the concept of the original Suzuki Swift wasn’t going to be easy, however, the newcomer has been well received and judging by the sales figures it is going gangbusters.
Harder still for Suzuki was creating a new Swift Sport, that car has long been a bang-for-your-buck model which has appealed to all generations of buyers who just want that little bit of extra performance.
I really like the Swift Sport, it’s a fun car, and while it doesn’t have lightning speed it offers exhilaration in moderate doses. Such is its appeal to me, I even talked a work colleague into a Sport just prior to his retirement, and he says it keeps him young.
With the arrival of the new Swift, the Sport comes completely redesigned. I’m pleased to report that Suzuki is making good use of its turbocharger development process, the 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit from the Vitara is the new engine for Swift Sport, although its engine management protocols are structured more for performance.
The engine is also down 213cc from the previous generation unit, but that matters little for not only is the new Swift Sport more economical, it has higher power outputs than its 1.6-litre predecessor.
Suzuki rates the engine with 103kW and 230Nm, that’s up 3kW and 70Nm from before, a 44 per cent increase. What’s more, the power outputs are far more usable than before, peak power is realised at just 5500rpm, while maximum torque stretches from 2500rpm to 3500rpm. That means you don’t have to work the engine hard to glean performance, its best delivery is through the mid-range and that is what you want from the modern engine.
As before, there’s a choice of manual or automatic transmission. There’s been a lot of debate lately about the value of manual transmissions in our country. I’m of the belief they are essential, and I was so pleased that the evaluation car was a manual – after all, European buyers still flock to the manual gearbox, so there must be some merit in that.
In manual form the gearbox has ratios which extract well engine performance, it will keep the engine honest yet it will also dawdle at city speeds without taxing the driver, but it also encourages throttle action. Against the clock the new Swift will scamper from a standstill to 100km/h in around 8sec and will make a highway overtake in 5sec.
While its performance is desirable, the Swift Sport’s main claim to fame is in its handling. Suzuki has created a whole new platform for the new model, and the Sport has a refined mixture of ride quality for comfort along with the firmness needed to promote sports car-type handling.
There is absorption within the springs and dampers, the ride is compliant and it will tackle uneven surfaces with a surprising amount of suspension travel, yet it also clings to the road with a low centre of gravity and even balance.
I took the test car on my usual highway loop through to Hororata with a slight excursion up to part of the amazing road leading into Lake Coleridge Village. A busy day meant I didn’t have time to tackle the entire distance, but even to the point of Terrace Downs where I turned around to come home, I gleaned enough of an indication of the Swift Sport’s wonderful handling capability. It’s a point-and-turn performance car with directional accuracy not often seen in a car of this price.
The Swift Sport is listed at an amazing $28,500 (automatic add $500), which to me indicates a special package. There is lot of kit in the car and Suzuki should be congratulated for providing the Sport driver with a lot of features for comfort and convenience, as well as safety.
The Swift Sport will also offer realistic fuel usage returns. It must be taken into account that most modern turbochargers are also responsible for leaning out fuel use, and when there are only small cylinders to fill with fuel, usage is always going to be miserly.
Sure, if you constantly work the accelerator up and down, the Swift Sport won’t be quite so thrifty. I was quite aggressive during my time with the test car yet it still listed a 7.8-litre per 100km (37mpg) combined cycle average. Suzuki claims 6.1l/100km (46mpg) is achievable, and I guess if you take into account that at 100km/h a 5l/100km (56mpg) figure is showing, then Suzuki’s claim could well be achievable.
It would be fair to say I particularly enjoyed my time in the new Sport. It certainly reinforced my desire for manual transmissions and I just felt so at ease with its driveability in general. It’s not a car for the serious performance enthusiast, but it is an all-rounder which will provide honesty every time you open the throttle.
Price – Suzuki Swift Sport, $28,500
Dimensions – Length, 3890mm; width, 1735mm; height, 1495mm
Configuration – Four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive, 1373cc, 103kW, 230Nm, six-speed manual
Fuel usage – 6.1l/100km