TIME TO JOIN THE SUZI QUEUE

Weekend Courier - - Driveway - Craig Duff

SUZUKI’S abil­ity to do more with less has en­ticed buy­ers into the Swift Sports since the model launch in 2006.

The orig­i­nal hot hatch for­mula of light weight, tight chas­sis and re­spon­sive steer­ing earned the Sport a legion of pas­sion­ate fans who ap­pre­ci­ated its com­pact size dur­ing the week and fact it could be flung around corners on the week­ends.

The sec­ond gen­er­a­tion car fol­lows the same path but with an em­pha­sis on the lat­est mod-cons, from An­droid/Ap­ple phone mir­ror­ing to adap­tive cruise con­trol and au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing.

It is a more re­solved car than its pre­de­ces­sor. Diehard Sport en­thu­si­asts may not ap­pre­ci­ate the ve­neer of ci­vil­ity but it should broaden the car’s ap­peal.

At the heart of the changes is a 1.4-litre tur­bocharged en­gine re­plac­ing the 1.6-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated mill in the pre­vi­ous model, mean­ing it’s now more about midrange shove than top-of-the-tachome­ter revs.

At $25,490 for the six-speed man­ual, it un­der­cuts the Ford Fi­esta ST and Volk­swa­gen Polo GTI by about $2000. The six-speed auto adds $2000.

The in­te­rior is typ­i­cally Suzuki: rugged, durable plas­tics that feel solid and align pretty well for a car at this price point.

A seven-inch touch­screen has four tiles dubbed lis­ten, drive, call and con­nect. It is easy to un­der­stand and pairs quickly with 103kW/230Nm (enough) 6.1L/100km (typ­i­cal) 265L (typ­i­cal) 5 stars, 6 airbags, auto emer­gency brak­ing, lane keep as­sist, adap­tive cruise con­trol (good) An­droid and Ap­ple de­vices. More dis­plays have been added to the 4.2-inch TFT screen in the in­stru­ment panel, show­ing the likes of lat­eral G-forces, turbo boost and ac­cel­er­a­tion/brak­ing forces.

This ver­sion comes in 80kg lighter than the orig­i­nal Swift Sport at 1045kg. Con­se­quently you don’t need a huge amount of power to mo­ti­vate it.

The six man­ual ra­tios are tightly packed, mean­ing the en­gine is spin­ning at about 2500rpm at 100km/h in sixth gear. The au­to­matic trans­mis­sion uses a taller fi­nal gear that would make more sense for those who reg­u­larly com­mute long dis­tances.

Fit­ting an auto takes some of the fun out of the Sport, though. This is a car that you want to be en­gaged with and the man­ual is the pre­ferred op­tion.

On hair­pin turns, ex­pect mild un­der­steer on en­try and the Sport will then chirp its front wheels as you ap­ply power on exit. There are no causes for con­cern, given the steer­ing re­lays what the wheels are do­ing and the car re­sponds in­stantly to brak­ing or steer­ing in­puts.

The sus­pen­sion is firm enough to stop the body rolling through the corners but it im­presses by still soak­ing up all but the worst bumps.

Ver­dict: The Swift Sport re­tains its man­tle as a hot hatch that pri­ori­tises han­dling over horse­power. Toss in the re­as­sur­ance of AEB and this ma­chine will have Ford and VW deal­ers feel­ing ner­vous.

The lat­est Suzuki Swift Sport.

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