One of the perks of being a motoring scribe is being able to secure a test car over the festive season. Yeah, in exchange for a little exposure, of course, manufacturers will gladly hand you the keys to a holiday steed of your choice. And so this year I decided to organize myself the brilliant little Suzuki Swift Sport. Why, you ask?
Well simply because it blends excellent fuel economy (during an earlier week-long road-test I managed to average 6.6l/100km) into one of the best driving experiences you can buy south of the R400 000 mark. Seriously, if you happen to be an enthusiast looking for a keen handling machine that won’t cost you a kidney to buy or fuel or even maintain, then this is the hatchback you want parked inside your garage. It really is a class act.
Now with it steering ruined by a gung-ho automotive anesthetist the previous generation Swift Sport was something of a disappointment. In fact it seemed to undermine everything that was so great about that rev-happy engine and poised, pert chassis. You see just like in a Honda S2000 there simply wasn’t enough communication flowing from the front wheels up through to your fingertips. And this meant, especially when driving on the limit, that you never truly knew how much mechanical grip you had in reserve. Not very confidence inspiring – even in a FWD hatchling endowed with a mere 92kW.
Fortunately this time around the Suzuki engineers have managed to get the setup of the Sport’s electric power steering system properly sorted. Sure it could still be a tad meatier but in terms of overall feel the difference is tangible – especially when mid-corner and under load. Now when you’re faced with a challenging series of S-bends there’s no excuse not to make the most of the more powerful 1.6-litre engine bolted beneath that stubby bonnet.
Dynamically speaking the new Swift Sport wants you to play. Unlike the previous model it actually encourages you to take it by the scruff of its neck and give it a good hooning. Speaking of which, I’m off to do just that. Click back later for more updates, insights and photographs.
Definitely sounds a lot better than the Maruti Suzuki I was sitting in whilst in India a few weeks back… kind of reminded me of the old Ladas (and keeps you thankful that the traffic is so bad in Mumbai that nobody can’t go over 35 km/h anyway… otherwise it would be a total disaster-zone!)