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Published in Weekend Witness Motoring on Saturday September 8, 2012
Suzuki’s Swift Sport has one of the most powerful naturally aspirated 1600cc engines available in South Africa. It develops 100 kW and 160 Nm, slightly ahead of the Hyundai Elantra’s 96 kW, a couple of Toyotas at 97 and Clio Gordini with 98. Its power and torque figures are equalled only by those of the Lotus Elise, a hand-finished, fibre-bodied two-seater on an aluminium frame that sells at R529 000. To make it halfway luxurious, option packs are available at R44 200.
Elise is nice, but we're sure most of us would prefer a well-equipped, four-door, four-seater hatchback at oh, shall we say, R214 000? Now that we have that foolishness out of the way, let’s look at what the Suzuki offers. Apart from what we have already mentioned, the Sport offers six-speed manual transmission with its top ratio geared toward a good compromise between fuel economy and decent roll-on performance, a taut chassis with suspension that balances very acceptable handling with comfort, and a well filled box of toys and safety equipment.
Kit that helped it earn its EuroNCAP five star rating includes ABS brakes with EBD and EBA, six airbags, breakaway pedals, ISOFix child seat anchors and ESP. Comfort and convenience items include a six-speaker sound system with the usual sockets, powered window winders and wing mirrors, filtered automatic air conditioning, remote central locking, a trip computer and keyless starting.
Settle in behind the wheel, adjust its height and reach, note that it has satellite buttons for controlling radio and music and adjust the height of the seat. It doesn’t go down very far, but “enough,” leaving you with a fairly elevated outlook on the world. It’s not quite city car but not absolutely sporty either. The seats are based on those in the ordinary Swift, but with added side bolstering. This makes them supportive without being overwhelming. Reassuring is a good word. Covered in black cloth with “Sport” emblems and contrasting red stitching, they look the part too.
The gearbox has nicely spaced ratios with shift action earning about eight-and-a-half out of ten. It’s OK but feels a little notchy. Top is geared for about 3100 rpm at 120, giving reasonable roll-on acceleration at cruising speed. This actually works better than being geared for so-called ultimate economy, because you can keep going without having to choose between labouring the engine and changing down every time the road slopes slightly upward. It storms like a charging samurai in fifth, by the way.
The practical partner in your relationship will want to know about luggage space and seating. The boot loads at upper thigh height and expands from 210 litres with seats up, to 533 with the backs folded flat. It also features a compartment, about 25 centimetres deep, under its removable floor board. There is no spare wheel; just a pump kit. Internal storage is looked after with one seatback pocket, a couple of cup holders, door bins, a decently sized cubby, a dash-top box and odd slots and trays.
Back seat people space earned seven SA Standard Tall Passenger (SASTP) points each for heads and knees, with nine for feet. For those not familiar with our arbitrary SASTP ratings, seven points indicates the start of interference; hair touches the hood lining, knees brush the chair in front and feet just fit. After that, higher numbers are good.
Summing up, Suzuki’s Swift Sport is fun to drive, well equipped for its price and reasonably spacious. It’s probably more sport-oriented than built for family use, although it could do that too.
Price: R213 900 (includes metallic paint)
Engine: 1586cc, DOHC, 16-valves, four cylinders
Power: 100 kW at 7000 rpm
Torque: 160 Nm at 4500 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 8,7 seconds
Maximum speed: 195 km/h
Real life fuel consumption: About 6,8 l/100 km
Tank: 42 litres
Warranty: 3 years/100 000 km with roadside assistance
Service plan: 4 years/60 000 km
To see the launch report and more technical details, click here
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