Driven: Suzy's Swift Sport
The previous Suzuki Swift Sport sold in South Africa was, by most accounts, a very decent hot hatch. The latest version carries the game forward with more power – it is, in fact, the most powerful engine yet used in a production Swift – 100kW for its little body weighing only 1520kg.
Suzuki Auto SA also has big hopes for this model that is only available in the more practical five-door guise. It’s also no longer confined to a special edition-like run – the Swift Sport will become a fixed feature in the hatchback’s South African line-up.
We gave you most of the details concerning the fiery little number a little earlier, but here's our take now we've had a chance to drive it.
Potent little non-turbo engines appear to be a dying breed in a world where small-capacity, forced induction engines are becoming increasingly trendy so Suzuki wins one back with a seriously likable car. Sure it looks the part, with its fearsome grey mesh grille, a more substantial bumper and the requisite shiny bits, but it’s really the Swift’s work ethic that impresses.
B-ROADS TO THE TRACK!
Although it would probably be more at home in denser air down on any of South Africa’s coastal roads, the thinner, smoggy Highveld air did little to quell the 1.6-litre’s enthusiasm. The motor appeared unhindered on the trip around the Cradle of Humankind before moving on to the Zwartkops circuit west of Pretoria and back again, revving freely to the 7000rpm red line.
The Swift Sport does, after all, hit its power peak at a mere 6900...
Apart from being a high-revving ball of fun, the new engine is also more efficient than the one it replaces: average fuel consumption is down from 7.5 to 6.5 litres/100km and CO2 emissions are rated as 153 g/km, down from the previous 165.
The engine is mated to a short-shift, six-speed gearbox that was reassuringly notchy on quicker shifts at higher revs, making it easier to select the correct slot.
Running on the standard Macpherson strut/torsion beam arrangement, with the Swift’s 2.4m wheelbase, the ride is firm but comfortable on a range of surfaces. Along with a range of country roads and freeways, our launch route also took us out to the Zwartkops Raceway circuit, although the little Swift was resigned to show off its handling prowess on the fitting kart circuit where it got the chance to show off its agility and nimbleness.
Steering feel, on the whole, was slightly airy for my liking, but the light operation does make for great manoeuvrability, particularly in tighter spots such as car parks.
NOT JUST FOR SPORTS
The cabin is comfortable, too, with the driver and front passenger being hugged by sporty seats finished in a new mesh upholstery with extra side and thigh bolsters in faster corners.
The Swift Sport, however, is about more than just sporty fun and comfort. Given its status as the flagship in the Swift range, the Sport is definitely not lacking in mod cons. Standard equipment includes keyless entry, a USB socket for the six-speaker audio system, a leather-covered steering wheel with audio controls and bright, high-intensity discharge headlights.
On the safety side, there are of course anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution with emergency brakine assistance, electronic stability control with traction control, disc brakes all round and six airbags.
The latest addition to the Swift range costs R213 900 and includes metallic paint, a three-year or 100 000km warranty and a four-year or 100 000km service plan.
Suzuki Auto SA expects to sell around 40 Swift Sports a month and sees its little hot hatch going up against the Ford Fiesta 1.6, Renault’s Twingo RS, the Fiat 500 and Citroen’s DS3.