Driving Impression: Suzuki Swift Sport

Discussion in 'Asian Forums' started by naranhito, Apr 16, 2006.

  1. #1 naranhito, Apr 16, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
    Driving Impression: Suzuki Swift Sport

    Testing the prototype

    Suzuki's new Swift, the unexpectedly good supermini with the low price and the Mini-meets-Mégane looks, has spawned a souped-up sibling due for UK sale next June. It has an engine enlarged to 1.6 litres, a power output of 125bhp and we've been driving a prototype in Japan.

    This is the car that will form the basis of Suzuki's next Junior World Rally Championship contender, and it will carry a big weight of expectation given that the Ignis has already been an unlikely winner of that championship. Clearly the rally car will be far removed from the road version, but the new Sport shows much promise.

    4Car sampled the Swift at Suzuki's Ryuyo test track near the company's base in Hamamatsu, west of Tokyo, a track with curves of variable camber and radius, a long and undulating straight and the opportunity to find out more about a car's character than many test tracks offer. We found out enough to help convince the project's chief engineer, Eiji Mochizuki, that a few chassis changes might be a good idea, but the bottom line is that at £10,500, the Swift Sport will be a major bargain.

    The prototype pictured has a five-door body, which will be standard issue in Japan, but European Sports - which will be made at the Magyar Suzuki factory in Hungary - will all be three-doors. Otherwise the look is similar: gaping vents in the front valance with blade-like aerodynamic tabs, side sills shaped to reduce rear lift, a tailgate spoiler and a deep rear valance from which sprouts a wide-based pair of hefty tailpipes. The rear lights have round elements beneath their wrapover lenses, and the wheels fill the ample arches convincingly. Wheel size is 16-inch as standard, 17-inchers optionally, shod with 195/50 or 195/45 tyres.

    Mechanical changes

    Surprisingly, the ride height is no lower than standard (because the wheels are bigger), but there are plenty of other suspension changes to suit the Sport's role. Their overall effect is a 20 percent rise in roll stiffness, or resistance to leaning in corners, achieved by stiffening the front springs and dampers by 20 percent, the rear ones by 15 percent and the torsion beam of the rear suspension by a hefty 30 percent. There are no changes to the rubber mounting bushes in this prototype car, but that will probably change. The electrically-powered steering remains standard, too, but the front brakes grow by an inch in diameter and the rear drums are replaced with discs.

    And the engine? Its piston stroke is lengthened to bring the capacity up to 1586cc, the compression ratio rises to 11 to one, and there are lots of other changes to this twin-cam, 16-valve unit to bring the power to 125bhp at 6800rpm and torque to 109lb ft at 4800rpm. It sounds like it might be a peaky, revvy engine, and so it proves, but the variable inlet-cam timing does help plump up the lower reaches of the torque curve.

    The programming of that variable timing is altered, the cams have more lift, the valve springs are tougher to cope with the higher revs, and the exhaust system flows more freely. And whereas the regular Swift is one of the few modern cars to retain a cable-operated throttle, the Sport gets a drive-by-wire system which is tuned to give a bigger initial opening for a small pedal movement and so make the engine seem livelier.

    Open the door, sit inside and you're not struck by a massive visual sportification offensive. There are pieces of aluminium-look plastic on the dash and doors, plus real aluminium pedals and footrest. Various outbreaks of red stitching make an appearance along with chrome dial rings and a leather-rim steering wheel. I think it's probably enough, along with the more supportive seats, but some buyers may want a racier approach.

    The real proof of the Swift's Sport makeover comes in the driving. The engine is a sweet, revvy thing whose nature is given its head by shorter, closer gear ratios. It will take the Sport to 124mph, and from a standstill to 62mph in nine seconds; 'Our target is less,' says Mochizuki, who is still working on extracting some more pace. One of the two cars I drove felt faster, reaching just under 120mph by the end of the undulating main straight, and there are still some calibrations to fine-tune.

    Bargain warm hatch

    Same goes for the suspension. I'll start with what I shall call Car A. Into the first fast bend, and the Sport darts in with minimal steering resistance and a strong feeling that the rear tyres are flat. Back off and there's a tightening of the cornering line not experienced since a 205 GTI, but without that car's focus and feedback. It does not inspire confidence… but then you realise you can drive through this no-man's land of numbness, find that all the rubberiness has been taken up and that the Swift isn't going to spin, and revel in what has now transformed itself into a grippy, interactive, talkative little thing with the cornering attitude of a race car. It's huge fun, but learning to trust it might be a problem.

    So I try Car B. Massive difference: there's none of that loosing of the tail on turn-in, all seems tight, taut and tied down, and still I can zoom through corners with understeer held in check and drifts on the agenda. But it's not quite as fast out of the corners, and something is holding it back. That's right; Car B has ESP, Car A does not. All Euro cars will be ESP-equipped, but Suzuki recognises that ESP should be a long-stop safety aid, not a fix for a flawed chassis.

    Engineer Mochizuki has a workaround in mind, which is to reduce the lateral compliance of the rear torsion beam's rubber mountings, and to mount the steering rack solidly to the front subframe instead of on rubber blocks. That will keep the pointy, throttle-sensitive balance and all the fun, while adding precision and focus and taking away that feeling of drifting on ice. It should also make it possible to raise the ESP's activation threshold. The ride, currently quite serene and well-controlled for a warm hatch, should survive intact.

    Thus honed, the Swift Sport should be a great budget sporty hatchback. And it will be fun to think that we've helped a bit in the honing.


    More pics at http://www.supercars.net/PitLane?viewThread=y&gID=2&fID=0&tID=83638
  2. Ahah, thank you! <A BORDER="0" HREF="http://www.supercars.net/PitLane?displayFAQ=y"><IMG BORDER="0" SRC="pitlane/emoticons/smile.gif"></A> What a cute little thing it is!
  3. i am a fan. 2 door?
  4. Looks like Xa with Suzuki badge.
  5. What a little shitbox.
  6. Fail
  7. It looks like a fun little car to me. Take the Suzuki badge off of it and you would probably have a different opinion on it.
  9. Looks even more aggressive on those shots
  10. I'm still waiting for them to put a bike engine into this. It'll never officially happen, though.
  11. i dont know why, but i like it.
  12. Looks like a Clio, which is rad. Too bad if this goes ons ale in NA, it will come with a crappy 90hp-100hp engine.
  13. The new Swift is hot. So is the SX4... and the new XL7... and the Grand Vitara... if only Suzuki would ditch the lame Deawoos they'd have one of the sweetest lineups around...

    Any word on a new Aerio?
  14. i like the 2 door
  15. They better damn well make a convertable a la the concept and sell it in North America... much better than the Beetle convos and such...
  16. excellent
  17. True, it would have no serious competition
  18. *Fulvia...
  19. A mix between a Clio and a Citroen C2, except i dont like it. because its not original at all, thats a big thing for me with cars
  20. What do you call an original design in this size?
  21. That's another level <A BORDER="0" HREF="http://www.supercars.net/PitLane?displayFAQ=y"><IMG BORDER="0" SRC="pitlane/emoticons/wink.gif"></A>
  22. Nissan Micra
  23. But the Swift looks like 100 times better than the Micra.
  24. And 100 times less like a rolling beauty saloon

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