The Wheel Deal

Fixing you up with life in the fast lane.
Posted: January 3rd, 2013 | By Thomas Falkiner

The New Year has come and gone. Resolutions have already been broken. My Swift Sport is about to go back to Suzuki. And this is rather sad because I have really enjoyed driving it around the quiet streets of Jozi this holiday season.

Now there are many reasons for this. The way it handles, for one. Those cheeky good looks. A well-considered interior designed to fit your frame like a glove. Yep, all of these attributes mean that strapping into the Sport is nothing short of a pleasure. Yet the most standout feature, that crucial main ingredient that had me most sold on this cracking junior hot-hatchback, was the brilliant little engine bolted beneath its bonnet.

By modern standards a 1.6-litre engine doesn’t sound very inspiring. But thanks to some trick engineering (a new variable intake system as well as a VVT setup optimized for increased valve lift), the familiar M16A lump now whacks out 100kW and a healthy 160Nm worth of torque. I mean these figures basically rival my old VW Golf MK2 GTI 16V – a car that came endowed with an extra 200 cubic centimeters of engine capacity.

Impressive on paper, it proved to be a wicked engine out in the real world too. Like most Japanese performance four-pots, the normally aspirated M16A thrives on really high revs. So to extract the maximum amount of performance you need to chase down the 7200rpm soft-limiter through each and every gear. Now I know this sounds like hard work but thanks to some silky smooth power delivery and six, closely-stacked ratios, well, it just makes the whole business of going fast that much more visceral.

As a driver I find this involves you more, makes you feel part and parcel of the whole process of going fast. You know it might not share the same VTEC kick but piloting the Swift Sport in anger kind of reminded me of my experiences behind the wheel of the previous generation Honda Civic Type-R. A car that, incidentally, I’d take over any turbocharged Golf GTI or Focus ST.

I do have some minor criticisms though. I think that Suzuki should have dialed in a bit more induction noise and engineered a slightly louder exhaust note. At the moment I believe that the whole car sounds a little bit too quiet and refined. It’s just not in keeping with its character, if you know what I mean. I’m not asking for a thundering free-flow rumble of Benoni proportions, no, but some extra growl would be most welcome. You know, similar to how the RenaultSport Twingo and Clio models sound when you start winding them up towards the red line. So, Suzuki, if you’re listening, take note and up the sonic ante. We’ll be most grateful you did.

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