By John Ewing
Less than a fortnight into 2018 and Suzuki have got things off to a flying start, debuting their feisty, new Swift Sport model to a handful of Queensland motoring media reps on the track and skidpan at Norwell Motorplex. We were there to find out what’s new and get our first drive of Suzuki’s pocket-rocket.
The newcomer is the third generation of Swift Sport, or if you include the original Swift GTi from 1986, the fourth generation of Suzuki’s warmed-over Swift variants.
The latest iteration ups the ante in performance terms, courtesy of its new 1.4-litre Boosterjet turbo-charged, DOHC, four-cylinder, direct-injection petrol engine with variable valve timing (inlet side), in lieu of its predecessor’s 1.6 naturally-aspirated unit. The new turbo engine, as also used in Suzuki’s S-Cross Turbo and Vitara, delivers claimed outputs of 103kW and 230Nm – that’s an extra 3kW of power and a sizeable 70Nm dollop of extra torque over the old Sport model.
Suzuki have also pared approximately 90kg of weight from the previous model, dropping the newcomer’s kerb mass to a trim 970kg for the six-speed manual and 995kg with the six-speed auto. The extra engine outputs and lighter mass adds up to the best power and torque to weight ratios of any Swift Sport model to date and more sprightly performance.
Where the previous generation Sport made do with a CVT in auto versions, the new model gets a pukka conventional six-speed auto. The new auto is based on the Vitara’s auto gearbox albeit with different gear and final drive ratios. The manual box is also an adaptation of the Vitara’s gearbox.
Official combined fuel consumption for both manual and auto versions is a modest 6.1 litres/100km, with 141g/km of CO₂ emitted.
New Swift Sport is 40mm wider and 15mm lower than the old model, and also has a wider track and longer wheelbase. It’s underpinned by Suzuki’s new Heartect platform that is stronger and more rigid.
New exterior looks for the Sport compared to the current Swift include a unique black grille design, revised bumper design, carbon-fibre styled side skirts, rear splitter and front splitter lip, dual stainless-steel exhaust outlets, a roof-end spoiler, and open-spoked black lustre/polished edge finish 17” alloys shod with sticky 195/45R17 Continental tyres.
There’s a choice of five exterior paint colours including the very popular Champion Yellow.
Inside, there’s sports front seats with embossed logo and red accent stitching, alloy sports pedals, red trim accents, unique red and silver instrumentation, a boost gauge, and 7” colour touchscreen Bosch infotainment unit.
Safety hasn’t been forgotten with six airbags (including full length curtains), lane departure warning, weaving alert, high beam assist, adaptive cruise control, speed limiter, and dual sensor brake support (Suzuki’s forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking system).
Under the skin, there’s revised front and rear suspensions using Monroe branded struts and shocks, instead of the standard Swift’s Hitachi Automotive Systems units, recalibrated stabilizer bars, Teflon seats for the stabilizer bar mounts, new rear trailing arms and new design wheel bearings and hubs. Both the latter are unique to Swift Sport Turbo. The suspension package has been designed to reduce body roll providing flatter cornering, to enhance torsional rigidity, and to give greater handling precision.
Our testing of the new model in a series of handling exercises and some track time at the launch certainly highlighted the dynamic improvements over the previous Sport. The improved engine performance and extra torque was also very obvious.
The new Swift Sport Turbo is affordably priced compared to natural competitors, with Manufacturer’s List Prices (not inclusive of on-road costs) of $24,990 for the manual and $26,990 for the auto.
We look forward to the opportunity to further sample Suzuki’s newcomer soon, this time letting it loose over some of our favourite winding backroads.