A quick check of The Redline’s publishing engine confirms what I already knew – no Swift Sport. It’s also the least powerful car I’ve tested so far by a comfortable margin. It’s no secret that 103kW (140PS) isn’t a great deal of power. But when you’re a plucky little Suzuki Swift weighing less than 1000kg, it’s not bad at all.
The Swift Sport holds a special place in my heart because it was my first video for CarsGuide. Stop sniggering. I was new. Gee it was fun, though. I loved it.
Now, five years later, the car that almost inspired The Redline is actually reviewed here in its pages. It’s the car I settled on when explaining to everyone what a performance car is. “Anything from a Suzuki Swift Sport and up.”
Words: Peter Anderson
Images: Rhys Vandersyde
Co-pilot: Brendan Allen
Swift Sport Look and Feel
The “new” Swift (it’s been around a while now) looks terrific. It’s everything a modern small car should be. It’s great to look at, well-built and fun to drive.
While the rear doors need a good shove to close, it feels a bit more solid than before. The profile is familiar, but looks fresh. Those new headlights are very cool in the flesh.
I love the chunky profile – it looks ready for action, especially in this, er, special colour called Champion Yellow. On some cars, this hue will earn you a sneer but on the Swift Sport, it garners plenty of smiles.
The cabin is a bit on the snappy plastic side, but the front seats are terrific. It also has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you don’t have to worry about the dodgy old media system.
The Swift Sport’s bonnet hides Suzuki’s 1.4-litre Boosterjet turbo four-cylinder. Yep, the same on from the Vitara SUV. Power is up from the old 1.6-litre, coming in at 103kW (140PS) and 220Nm. The standard six-speeder is a good one, the very heavy CVT not so much.
Obviously, it’s front wheel drive only.
0-100km/h arrives in 8.1 seconds, which is pretty good for 103kW. The key, obviously, is the fact the Swift Sport weighs 970kg in manual form. That has a huge knock-on effect and is a whopping 80kg lighter than the previous generation.
The Swift is built on Suzuki’s HEARTECT ‘scalable’ platform. That means it can stretch and shrink depending on the application. The same platform sits underneath the terminally dull Baleno, but don’t be scared. This is no Baleno.
The Sport rides on stiffer springs and dampers and rides 15mm closer to the ground. The dampers themselves are from Monroe rather than the usual off-the-shelf OEM stuff. The track is also 40mm wider than before.
The front anti-roll bar mountings are beefed up from the standard car’s and the bearings and wheel hub are all one unit. The rear trailing arms are also set up specifically for the Sport.
A new electric steering setup is also along for the ride, so hopefully it’s better than the old one.
Driving the Swift Sport
This car is so much fun. So was the old one. But it’s quite different.
For a start, it’s lighter but also stiffer. That means the suspension can be a bit softer while still delivering plenty of laughs. The Swift Sport has such a great front end, with light, snappy steering throwing the car into corners with abandon.
The softer suspension also means it’s a smoother ride day-to-day but also makes the car more forgiving in the rough stuff. The old car was pretty stiff and could crash a bit over bumps. It was pretty good at speed, though, never frightening me on some very poor surfaces.
The new car’s character is subtly altered as a result. It’s less raw, feels less like it’s completely up for it all the time. Less tiring, in other words.
The engine is where the car has really matured. The torque turbo brings just 3kW (4PS) more but a stout 60Nm of torque. That means instead of having to rev its big end bearings to breaking point, you spend a lot more time in third gear.
And that, of course, is the way of things. There’s almost nothing left at this level that isn’t turbo and isn’t all about torque-surfing.
So while it’s just like it has always been, its capabilities are broader. It can do more things more fo the time and point-to-point, it’s quicker. Some have complained that it’s not as fun as the old car, but I disagree. It’s more fun around town because you can get it moving.
And where the old car’s steering wasn’t very good, it’s much better in 2019. Seven years of waiting has given the Swift Sport much better electric steering. You can feel what’s going on, you know what’s happening and when you hook it into a corner, you know when things are going wrong.
Yes. Goodness yes. While I find it a bit pricey here in Australia, it doesn’t seem to hold the car back. And nor should it because the money you pay is going towards quality. It’s also going to a bit of an underdog – Suzuki doesn’t have any money but delivers more hot hatches than Toyota does.
That’s reason enough for me.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.