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DELMAS, Mpumalanga – The third-generation Suzuki Swift Sport has finally arrived in South Africa and the local arm of the Japanese company decided to launch it on the twisty Red Star Raceway on the East Rand. Is this latest version of the warm hatch as exciting as its first two generations?

What’s new?

Gone is the naturally aspirated 1,6-litre engine, replaced by a new 1,4-litre turbopetrol known as the "BoosterJet". Although power has increased by a mere three units to 103 kW (offered at 5 500 r/min), maximum torque has jumped by a massive 44 percent to 230 N.m (on tap between 2 500 and 3 500 r/min).

In addition, Suzuki says it has lowered the weight of the car by some 90 kg. In an era where companies are compelled to build cars that are safer, quieter and crammed full of technology (all adding mass), the claimed kerb weight of 970 kg is a notable achievement. The claimed fuel consumption, meanwhile, has also been improved to 6,1 L/100 km. So far, so good, with the new Swift not putting a foot wrong.

Design

There are a number of external elements that grab your attention when you first see the car. These include the small front splitter, various bold exterior colours ("Burning Red" and "Champion Yellow" stand out) and the 16-inch alloy wheels. However, it's the rear of the car that proves the business end, complete with a cheeky roof spoiler and a faux-diffuser housing a pair of exhaust pipes. There's certainly no mistaking this for a standard Swift.

Behind the wheel

In a world filled to the brim with sports-, super- and hypercars, the new Swift Sport arrives as – to paraphrase a highly respected journalist – a veritable palate cleanser. Hot hatches have transformed into super (even hyper?) hatches, with the new 310 kW Mercedes-AMG A45 S leading the pack. But it's cars like the Swift Sport that allow us to learn pretty much all there is to know about the basics of driving quickly (think understeer, lift-off oversteer and just how important a lack of weight is in terms of making a car fun to drive).

We didn’t have the chance to drive the new Swift Sport on the road, but did spend some time on the tight and twisty track that is Red Star Raceway. And it was a perfect proving ground for this little hatchback. As before, the seating position is spot-on (even for someone 1,87 metres tall), affording the driver perfect command of the controls and a great all-round view through the glass.

The six-speed manual gearbox (interestingly, a six-speed automatic transmission is also offered) is slick in its operation and the shift action is short – two vital features for driving enjoyment. The moment I leave the pits and put my foot down, I realise the urge from the engine is vastly superior to that of the old model. As I lean on the brakes and flick the car through the first few corners, the low weight is obvious. The Sport feels light, nimble and changes direct sharply.

Although now turbocharged, the engine is still eager to rev, but you also soon realise you can save the time you'd otherwise use changing a gear and rather leave to ‘box in third or fourth gear, making use of all that added torque.

As expected, there is notable understeer (as is the case with the vast majority of cars), which forces you to be patient when applying the throttle as you leave a corner. However, when you do hit the accelerator, the inside wheel tends to spin thanks to the extra torque. This was fun for the first lap or two, but I quickly realised that if Suzuki offered the optional 17-inch wheel and tyre combination (not yet available here for a number of reasons), a little more grip would be available.

Apart from the latter, this is a really enjoyable front-driven hatch. The brakes feel strong and there was no doubt in my mind the Swift Sport would survive the day of on-track punishment; that's not often the case with road cars, even those retailing for 10 times as much as this model.

Summary

The Swift Sport has a small handful of competitors in South Africa, some far more expensive (think Volkswagen's Polo GTI) and some not quite as fun (I'm looking at you, three-door Opel Corsa GSi). Sadly, the latest Ford Fiesta ST is not destined for our shores, which leaves the Swift Sport as one of the most affordable daily drives in this segment. What’s more, the Sport feels quicker than its claimed 0-100 km/h time of 8,0 seconds suggests.

In short, the new model is exceedingly difficult to fault. Indeed, Suzuki should be commended for offering a vehicle capable of serving up this much fun at this end of the market. Long may the success of the Swift Sport continue!

2019 Suzuki SWIFT 1.2 GL Auto

R179,800
Ref No: 1490952

Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Cloth upholstery: Standard
  • Seats quantity: 5
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: Standard
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Cup bottle holders: front + rear
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 2
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: outer rear
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • On board computer multi information display: Standard
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • CD player: Standard
  • Aux in auxiliary input: Standard
  • USB port: Standard
  • Powersocket 12V: Standard
  • Central locking: remote
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Electric windows: front + rear
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Daytime driving running lights: Standard
  • Frontfog lamps lights: Standard
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Rear fog lamps lights: Standard
  • Metallic pearl escent paint: Optional
  • Fuel Type: petrol
  • Fuel range average: 755 km
  • Driven wheels: front
  • Driven wheels quantity: 2
  • Gearratios quantity: 5
  • Gearshift: automatic
  • Transmission type: automated
  • Transmission name: AGS
  • Front tyres: 185/65 R15
  • Reartyres: 185/65 R15
  • Length: 3840 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1735 mm
  • Height: 1530 mm
  • Wheel base: 2450 mm
  • Ground clearance minimum maximum: 145 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 9.6 m
  • Load volume / capacity: 268-579-953 L
  • Load volume / capacity: 953 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 880 kg
  • Gross weight (GVM): 1315 kg
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 37l
  • Fuel consumption average: 4.9 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 116g/km
  • Power maximum: 61 kW
  • Power maximum total: 61 kW
  • Power peak revs: 6000 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 69.7 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 113 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 4200 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 113 Nm
  • Torque to weight ratio: 128 Nm/ton
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 13.5s
  • Maximum top speed: 165 km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 1197 cc
  • Engine size: 1.2l
  • enginedetailshort: 1.2
  • Engine + detail: 1.2
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i4
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 16
  • Variable camvalve timing: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 3
  • Warranty distance (km): 100000 km
  • Service plan: Standard
  • Service plan time (years): 2
  • Service plan time (distance): 30000 km
  • Roadside assistance time: 3
  • Service interval (distance): 15000 km
  • Service interval (time): 1
  • Brand: Suzuki
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 59007101
  • MMVariant: SWIFT 1.2 GL AMT
  • MMintrodat: 2018-05-21
  • Introdate: 2018-05-31
  • DuoportarecordID: SuzuSwif2h03

driving-impressions

DRIVEN: Suzuki Swift Sport


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