Features: 70 / 100
Look/Design: 75 / 100
Performance: 90 / 100
Safety: 85 / 100
Suzuki has been back in South Africa for a while now, and they’ve brought in some really good cars. The Swift has been a bit of an underdog, going up against the likes of the Polo’s and the Fiesta’s of the world. But we’ve always liked the underdog. This is the second iteration of the Swift range, and also the Sport, to hit our shores. This new Sport doesn’t look all that different from its predecessor, although it has grown up slightly in terms of overall dimensions, shedding some fat, becoming lighter and more agile.
The Sport is easily differentiated from the rest of its Swift brethren by a spoiler at the back, dual tail-pipes and a slightly different setup on the nose and fog-lights. It all looks very compact and the car seems hunched forward, as if ready to pounce. Unfortunately, the 16” rims are a let down to the exterior, offering very little to be excited about. But although the Sport is a bit conservative in the looks department, it does come really nicely packaged.
The Sport has semi bucket-seats which does an admirable job of keeping you planted in your seat. These are quite comfortable and easily adjustable. Together with the height and reach adjustable steering wheel, it’s no problem to get a comfortable driving position, even for a tall person.
Suzuki interiors are staid, functional and of decent quality. The Sport is no exception. What differentiates the Sport is a smattering of red stitching on the seats and around the gear-lever. The dashboard is very sombre. There are some harder, cheaper-looking plastic, but overall the quality seems good. The Sport comes equipped with dual-climate control, a decent sound system, USB and iPod connection, Stop/Start button, keyless entry, electric mirrors, on-board computer, steering wheel controls and xenon headlights. Just about everything you would need.
The back seats leave little space for leg room and the boot is incredibly tiny, with the fiddly dual-split idea causing even more problems. But let’s be honest, you’re not looking at the Sport because you’ve got practicality in mind, are you? If you are, the 1.4l model would be more suited for your needs.
The Sport is most certainly a safe car, with a 5-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP tests. The Sport has 6 airbags with ABS and EBD. It also has ESP with ASC. This proves that Suzuki didn’t play around in ensuring that you are safe in the Sport.
When you press the Stop/Start button nothing magically happens. It just starts. Pottering out along a few streets the car behaves well, moving along happily. The car demonstrates its true power when you’re on an open road, with a few nice turns and bends. Stamping on the loud pedal… that’s when you unleash the little monster free-revving engine and the car just keeps piling on speed at a rate that should not be possible for a naturally aspirated 1.6l engine. And then the twisty parts come, and just as quickly go, because the Sport just sticks to the road like a go-cart. The only true rival it has in terms of its gymnastic performance on corners is perhaps the Mini Cooper S. And yes, the Swift is able to compete.
Suzuki has been a player in the WRC for a while now, and you can feel that they have bestowed a lot of that knowledge onto this car. With the Swift Sport it’s a point and shoot affair. It goes where you point it, and fast. You can hit corners at incredibly high speeds and be on the pedal way before the apex. The brakes are incredible and with virtually no body-roll, you feel very confident at higher speeds. It’s incredibly sharp and with gravity defying dynamics it’s a hoot to drive.
Even after some pure unadulterated hooliganism, combined with some responsible driving, looking down at the instrument panel, it tells you that the fuel consumption is just above 7.2l/100km. That is just unbelievable. Having had to do a few trips that included freeway driving, consumption even dropped below 6.0l/100km, thanks to the 6th gear.
The Sport is an incredibly fun car to drive with very good fuel consumption to boot. It is not the most practical car out there, not even close. But let’s be honest, that’s not what this car is about. The Swift Sport is also not really a robot to robot racer, many cars out there have faster 0-100 times. But as soon as you hit the twisty bits, this car comes into its own and will leave many other expensive vehicles behind. My only regret is that I could not get this car onto a track for some proper fun.
Buckets of fun!
All photography by Hein Schlebusch for Resolution Imagery