Friday, October 8, 2010


On test… Suzuki Swift Sport

Who doesn’t like having fun. Hands up. (Ok, besides the North Koreans.) No-one, right? As long as it’s legal and no-one gets hurt, having fun is just about the best thing there is. A no-brainer it would seem.

Thing is, a lot of people actually forget this. Especially people who make cars. An obsession with technological advancement can blind them into making cars that are super safe or super quick or super easy to drive. Nice. But bladdy boring.

Fortunately Osuma Suzuki, the 80-year old chairman of the Suzuki corporation is not one of those people. Unfortunately we’ve no record of the actual conversation between the Osumster and his design team, but we’re pretty sure his brief for the Swift went something like this:

“Dude-sans. Make it simple, make it cheap, but most of all, make it flippin’ fun to drive. Cool?”

“Hai!” they all said, and went about producing this gem of a little car. Indeed it won the “Most Fun” award in the 2006 Japanese Car of the Year competition. Seriously. They have a “Most Fun” category in Japan.

Over the last couple you will have noticed the four-door version of this little Jap hatch buzzing around SA roads quietly building a reputation as an affordable car that was, well, a helluva lot of fun to drive. Its 1.5-litre motor was not the punchiest, but it provided just enough voomah to power the Swift’s superb chassis. And its fairly understated styling – especially for a Japanese car – was a welcome oasis of serenity among the creases, scallops and flashes of faux chrome sported by most of its competitors.

Just to make sure the party continues, Suzuki have now introduced a limited run (100 only) of their three-door Swift sport model in this country. A new 1-6-litre motor puts out 92kW (as opposed to the Swift’s usual 74kW) and the chassis has a couple of tweaks to go with the bigger biceps. The suspension has been stiffened and now comes with more responsive gas-filled shocks, the steering’s been recalibrated to be just that bit sharper, and 17-inch alloys provided the necessary grip and street cred.

In terms of performance, it’s not quite up there with the Mini Cooper S’s of the world, but the Swift Sport’s performance is nonetheless more than snappy enough for a jaunt to the fun-o-sphere and back. It’s a revvy little bugger that gets particularly shirty above 5000rpm, egging you on to use the upper echelons of its rev range to your heart’s content. At R199 900 it’s not particularly cheap, but the same price as its obvious rival, the 98kW Renault Twingo RS. It could do with a sixth gear for highway cruising, but that’s probably the only fault one could point out.

All in all, a lekker little chorrie.