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Suzuki Swift Sport

 

Visually, the Sport has a bolder front end, with a deeper lower grille reminiscent of the latest VW Golf GTi.

The alloys are not only larger diameter but also a different design. The rear mounted roof spoiler and lower side body kit are also new.

There are styling changes around the rear, with newly positioned reversing lights, dark glass headlight finisher and larger fog lights but essentially the good looks of the original car are retained.

Inside, Suzuki has made discreet use of silver and brushed aluminium, and the black trim is relieved by the adoption of red seat centres and red piping. It all looks good.
The new front seats with their substantial side bolsters are much better than those in the standard car, offering excellent support when you begin to drive in earnest, and greater comfort on longer runs.

European input is significant. Polish-based Tenneco supplied the front strut module and rear shock absorbers, and the Monroe Engineering and Technology Centre in Belgium modified other suspension components.

The idea was to create a good ride and handling package. We were unable to try the car on Japanese public roads to ascertain ride comfort, but the Sport quickly revealed its potential on the handling circuit.

MacPherson strut and coil springs at the front and a torsion beam/coil spring arrangement at the rear are essentially the same but fine-tuning has given the car a different feel. The 140mm ground clearance is 5mm less than the standard car’s, but the turning circle is not as tight.

There’s little doubt the ride is not as compliant as the standard Swift. The Sport feels firmer in, with more agile handling and quicker response to steering inputs. Extra weight to the steering is another plus.

Careful suspension re-tuning seems to have paid off, and the car is much more of a driver’s machine than the 1.5-litre model.

Even the gear change feels slicker, and the revised close-ratio transmission with its lower final drive takes best advantage of the more powerful engine. You’d never know the clutch diameter is larger, either.

The stainless steel pedals with rubber inserts not only look good but are well-placed for heel-and-toe changes.

Suzuki decided against a six-speed gearbox, probably on cost grounds, and there’s no automatic option, as well there shouldn’t be.

The recommended engine redline bumps up 300 revs to 6800rpm, the point at which peak power is achieved.

Though the new 1.6-litre engine produces more torque, the improvements are realised at higher revs. Despite this and the modified performance camshafts, the M16A engine is smooth and flexible, no doubt helped by the gearing changes.

Flat-out to 100km/h, the Sport is barely one second quicker than the standard Swift, with a time of 8.9 seconds. Yet despite being 100kg heavier, the 200km/h flagship model feels noticeably faster than its lower powered brother.

Engineering changes are impressive. The Swift’s body is already highly rigid, and the standard car’s four-stud wheels are uprated to five-stud. Solid discs replace the drum brakes at the rear.

Suzuki believes one in every five Japanese Swift buyers will choose the Sport, but the uptake in New Zealand is likely to be slightly lower – perhaps around 15 percent of total Swift volume once the launch period settles down.

Either way, enthusiasts are going to love this car, as will buyers seeking a Swift with more individuality.

No longer will customers option up their Swifts with aftermarket wheels and bodykits. They’ll now simply opt for the Sport – and, in the process, benefit from a larger, beefier engine, better brakes and more comfortable seating. 


Auto Trader New Zealand