TIME TO JOIN THE SUZI QUEUE
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.