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Moving Swiftly along

24.07.2017

In an era of small capacity forced induction engines producing more power and torque than a comparative four-cylinder or six-cylinder motor from 15 years ago, it still makes for interesting reading to note that some manufacturers have stuck with the old American adage of “there is no replacement for displacement”.

It’s a recipe that Suzuki has seemingly exploited to the maximum as its Swift Sport has remained true to atmospheric power, with a high-revving 100 kW/160 Nm 1.6-litre engine ever since being facelifted in 2012. With the recent international debut of the new Swift though, the Sport will switch allegiance and adopt a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine developing in the region of 110 kW.

With the end of an era beckoning, and in line with the never tiring saying of “going out with a bang”, the recent arrival of a rather unmissable Swift Sport to the Autodealer office made for a truly speculator send-off, in more ways than one.

While very little has changed from the Swift’s redesign five years ago, it was the choice of exterior detailing that really sparked the most interest. As a tribute to the Japanese manufacturer’s MotoGP team, our tester sported the same livery as the GSX-RR’s raced in this year’s championship.

The OTT but certainly eye catching touches also included black alloy wheels with bright green flanges, green foglight bezels, the Suzuki corporate logo on the bonnet, green boot spoiler, Suzuki stickers underneath the headlights and green mirrors with the outer edges of the bonnet also finished in the Hulk’s favourite colour.

Discount the extra detailing though, and you are still left with a stylish and sporty looking B-segment hatch that does not pretend to be a full-on hard core track annihilator, but rather a peppy city slicker with just enough styling credentials to grab your attention.

It is a different story inside where the Swift’s advancing age and lack of modern must-haves are most prevalent. With only red stitching on the steering wheels and seats and scattering of satin silver inserts, the Sport’s x-shaped centre console looks thoroughly outdated in an era of touchscreen setups.

Although the general fit-and-finish looks good despite our tester having clocked up over 16 000 km, the cockpit does feel devoid of any excitement with the overall feel not being helped by seats that are too narrow and likely to become uncomfortable after a long trip. Not helping matters further is a lack of space at the rear, especially head room, with another black mark being the tiny boot rated at just 201-litres with the seats up.

The Sport does however claw back some momentum in the standard equipment department with a Bluetooth enabled sound system featuring Aux and USB inputs, cruise control, steering mounted audio controls, push-button start, electric windows all around, climate control, six airbags, ABS with EBD and traction control.

A further indication of the Sport hailing from a different era comes when you press the start button and head out onto the road. Lacking that shove from a modern turbo engine, the 1.6-litre mill requires a healthy dose of revs to keep momentum going, yet goes about this with very little drama.

In spite of being sapped of grunt up here on the Reef, the VVTi-fitted motor felt surprisingly eager to impress helped by its free-revving nature and steady flow of power as you get higher up the range.

At the national speed limit, both road and wind noise were kept to a minimum, with the engine lending the impression that could up the ante more than what the rules of the road allow. Despite this, and an usually heavy right foot from yours truly, fuel consumption still came to an impressive 6.6-litres/100 km.

While the next Sport will feature the option of a six-speed automatic gearbox, the current model’s six-speed manual makes no apologies for feeling decidedly analogue with a lovely click-click almost metallic sound as you up or down. Although not the most precise ‘box out there, it still makes for a, dare I say it, welcome departure from the now almost obligatory seamless shift double-clutch setups.

It might be the old stager among the hotted-up hatch fraternity, but a certain amount of charm still exists about the Suzuki Swift Sport that makes up for its modern shortcomings. Ignore our model’s tribute colours, and you have what is without doubt an uncompromised, simple, old-school warm hatch.

With the blown new Swift Sport just around  the corner, we therefore say a sad goodbye to what is without doubt a tribute model in itself to simple not-assisted and honest motoring performance.

 

Price: R246 900

Article written by Charl Bosch
24.07.2017
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