SUZUKI was one of very few, if not the only carmaker, to turn a profit during the GFC. It has, in fact, been in the black every year since start-up in 1950.
Obviously, that’s because Suzuki makes the “right” cars, the right way, at the right price. Call them conservative if you like, but it seems to be the over-riding factor in Suzuki’s success.
Their least conservative car is the $23,990 Swift Sport – a latter-day Swift GTI for want of a better description. It’s a cool, baseball cap of a car with pert looks, a dash of attitude and performance and handling that brings a smile to your dial without actually pinning back your ears. And there’s a CVT auto.
Suzuki’s formula for its hot little five-door hatch is to pare back weight, tweak the engine and suspension, fit subtle body add-ons and boost fuel economy.
UNDER THE BONNET
Sport runs a pretty straightforward 1.6-litre, twin cam, four banger up from the 1.4 in a base Swift. It’s good for 100kw/160nm output and fuel consumption as low as 6.1 litres/100km.
It misses out on direct injection, but scores a simple variable intake system and variable valve timing and lift to optimise efficiency. Choose from a six-speed manual or the CVT auto with paddle shift.
Sport has a strut front and simple torsion beam rear suspension system – calibrated to give a good compromise between sharp handling and response and comfort. It won’t rattle your teeth on rough roads and though small in diameter, the disc brakes are up to the job. The electric steering has been calibrated to give sharper response than a base Swift. Light alloy Generous kit: Suzuki Swift Sport includes bi-xenon headlights, Bluetooth, sports seats and lowprofile sports tyres. wheels reduce the unsprung weight and optimise suspension action. It weighs 1060kg.
It has a five-star crash rating thanks to seven air bags, stability control and the selective use of high strength steel throughout the body/chassis.
Though still “sensible”, the Swift Sport has a mild body aero kit with a rear roof spoiler and under bumper diffuser complete with dual wide spaced exhaust tips. Side skirts and a deeper front apron complete the picture. Inside is pretty much generic Japanese with over-used hard plastics, functional controls, cloth sports seats and a leather-clad sports wheel. Generous kit includes bi-xenon headlights,
ON THE ROAD
This is an enjoyable car to drive in the cut and thrust of city driving, on the freeway or on a winding road. They’ve nailed the driveability factor brilliantly. There’s a sweet shifting manual gear change with close intermediate ratios, plenty of zip higher up in the engine rev range and a supple, controlled ride with good brakes and sharpish steering. Kia’s sporty three-door Rio SLS has more power and torque and costs a lot less. It gives nothing away on looks either.
Great little car, fun to drive, cheap to run and own, undoubtedly reliable, safe and well equipped.