The Suzuki Swift has proven popular since its launch in 2008 and for good reason. Its endearing traits include space, economy, reliability and of course excellent handling, which is where the Swift Sport comes in. The predecessor is a SA Car Fan favourite and Suzuki has kept the recipe the same, that being evolution rather than revolution. While the new Swift Sport’s styling maybe just a shadow of the aggressive looking S-Concept that debuted last year’s Geneva Motor Show, the new Swift Sport has received a little more ‘go’ thanks to engine and suspension changes.
Let’s start with what we can see though. Up front, the Swift Sport is distinguished from the rest of the range by a set of large foglamp bezels with distinctive fins. The large grille offers a hint of aggression and the high-intensity (HID) headlamps stand out with their metallic grey coatings. Deeper side sills over those of the standard Swift, give the baby hot hatch more of a low-slung look, as well as help to promote smooth airflow along the underbody, say Suzuki. Multi-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels are wrapped in 195/50 R16 rubber and are smaller than the 17-inch hoops of old, but the slightly larger profile tyres contribute to improved ride comfort. At the rear, twin tailpipes, a grey diffuser and roof spoiler, leave those in the rear view mirror with little doubt of the Swift’s sporty character.
Inside, the Swift Sport has chrome instrument panel decorations and red-stitched accents on the leather steering wheel, cloth seats and gear lever cover. There are also a set of stainless steel pedals. The single-piece backrest and integrated head restraint found in the previous Swift Sport are no more, replaced with seats based on those of the normal Swift, but with added side support. Supportive in the right places, the seats feature a ‘Sport’ logo embroidered in red. Other standard equipment includes automatic air conditioning, electric power steering, electric operation for the windows and side mirrors, six-speaker sound system including a CD player with MP3 support, USB port and remote keyless entry and starting.
Behind the dominant grille lies a revised version of the previous generation’s 1.6-litre unit. It now develops 100 kW at 6 900 r/min and 160 Nm at 4 400 r/min, representing 8 kW and 12 Nm rises respectively. The increased power is achieved thanks to the addition of a variable intake system and increased valve lift. The engine is mated to a new six-speed manual gearbox, replacing the old five-speed, which Suzuki claims has a lighter and more positive shift action. The engine development and new gearbox result in CO2 emissions that are down around 11 per cent, falling from 165g/km to 147g/km. The exhaust system has also been revised slightly to contribute to the improved economy figures. At the same time, the zero to 100 km/h sprint time has been reduced to 8.7 seconds, down from 8.9 seconds in the previous model. Top speed is 195 km/h. On the launch in Johannesburg, the 1.6-litre engine felt a little ‘flat’ for a sporty hatchback, but despite the constricting effect of the altitude, the engine revved cleanly to the 7 000 r/min limiter and remained lively. In combination with the new transmission, it’s easy to keep the Sport ‘on the boil’, thanks to the ease of snappy gear changes.
When it comes to suspension, the new Swift Sport sits 10 mm closer to the road than the previous generation, while directional stability has been improved with a 15 per cent increase in spring rate at the front and 30 per cent at the rear, over that of the standard Swift. The new Swift’s body structure itself incorporates higher-tensile steel, resulting in a rigid yet 30 kg lighter (1 060 kg) frame than that of the previous Sport. Although the local launch offered limited opportunity to test the Sport’s handling capabilities, the new car feels more compliant than the outgoing model and, on the confines of the Zwartkops Karting circuit where the car was limited to 2nd gear speeds, the new Sport proved light on its feet through changes of direction.
Suzuki say the new Sport will compete with the likes of the Renault Twingo RS, Fiat 500 Abarth, Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sport and Citroen DS3, but its exclusively five-door body shell immediately puts it on the back foot in the ‘cool’ stakes – unless of course you order one in bright yellow. On the other hand, its two rear doors offer the easiest access to an interior that passengers will find comfortable, which is exactly why Suzuki expect the new Sport to sell at the rate of 40 cars per month, as opposed to the previous generation’s 100 units in total. The new Suzuki Swift Sport simply turns up the fun on an already competent hatchback.
|Price (incl. VAT and C02 tax)|
|Suzuki Swift 1.4 GL||R155 900|
|Suzuki Swift 1.4 GLS||R172 900|
|Suzuki Swift 1.4 GLS A/T||R186 900|
|Suzuki Swift Sport||R213 000|
Prices include a 36-month/100 000km warranty and 2-year/60 000km service plan.