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2009 Suzuki Swift Sport Review

January 2009
Filed under: SUZUKI Car News | SUZUKI Headlines

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The distinctive style and European-inspired driving dynamics of Suzuki’s Swift form the perfect basis for Swift Sport, a high performance derivative that delivers great looks, dynamic prowess and pure driving pleasure.

Developed in the fast and demanding arena of the Junior World Rally Championship, Swift Sport is the real deal, not simply another warmed-over supermini.

Building on feedback from the Suzuki’s motor sport programme, it combines a sports-tuned version of the capable Swift chassis with a competition-honed, high-revving 1.6-litre VVT engine to deliver an intoxicating mixture of responsive performance and agile handling that has instant driver appeal.

The 0 to 62mph acceleration benchmark comes up in just 8.9 seconds – quicker than the MINI Cooper.

Key styling elements that set Swift Sport apart from the mainstream range include a deeper front bumper with an additional, distinctive lower grille; a redesigned rear bumper and tail lights; and stylish 10-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels. The interior features a striking red and black trim colour combination, sports seats and detail highlights such as stainless steel pedals.

The uprated chassis benefits from stiffer springs and dampers, with ESP® (Electronic Stability Control) adding handling security.

Standard equipment includes automatic air conditioning, curtain airbags, MP3-audio compatibility, front fog lamps, steering wheel audio controls and Keyless entry and start.

The three-door, four-seat Swift Sport was launched in the UK in mid 2006 and the current on-the-road price is £11,750 including metallic paint. It is manufactured, along with the rest of the Swift range, by the Magyar Suzuki Corporation in Hungary.

Swift by name, swift by nature
The twin-cam 1.6-litre VVT petrol engine has been fully tried and tested in the heat of top-level rallying competition, powering Swift Sport in the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) and this year, the UK based Swift Sport Cup Champion series.

The M16A 16-valve, 1,586cc unit delivers maximum power of 125PS at 6,800rpm, with peak torque of 148Nm generated at 4,800rpm. Acceleration from standstill to 62mph is accomplished in 8.9 seconds and top speed is 124mph. For all this sporting character, Swift Sport still returns a creditable 39.8mpg (combined cycle).

This level of performance is made possible thanks to a number of engine components tuned exclusively for the model. Variable valve timing optimises efficiency to deliver prodigious torque and strong acceleration across the rev range, with high-lift intake and exhaust cams boosting performance at high revs. An electronic throttle provides close control and maximises responsiveness, while the intake manifold has specially widened intake runners and polished internal surfaces to enhance the incoming airflow for higher power. Features such as pistons warm-forged for strength and oil jet cooled increase durability and allow a high, 11.1:1 compression ratio for greater output.

A high capacity exhaust system plays its part in boosting efficiency, as well as sounding great with a resonant, full-bodied note that adds yet another dimension to Swift Sport’s all-round driving pleasure.

The 1.6-litre engine is mated to a close-ratio five-speed manual transmission and uprated clutch. Suzuki paid particular attention to tuning the quality of the gear selection mechanism and the result is an effortless, slick shifting action, allowing rapid and positive changes that further enhance the driving experience.

Inspiration at the wheel
Swift Sport’s size and neat packaging equip it perfectly for city life, but at the same time its performance and dynamics guarantee pure driving pleasure on open and challenging roads.

The wide track and 2.38m wheelbase form the ideal foundation for delivering excitement and confidence in equal measure. Specially stiffened and strengthened components providing even greater agility and control than is enjoyed on the standard Swift models, while retaining a comfortable ride. The all-round tautness of the chassis is further supported by an inherently stiff bodyshell.

MacPherson strut suspension is deployed at the front, with a torsion beam and coil springs at the rear, the low unsprung weight enabling effective control of camber angle and toe-in to deliver accurate and predictable handling. Monroe shock absorbers – exclusive to the Sport in the Swift range – provide enhanced damping characteristics, while the model also benefits from uprated springs and bushings.

ESP® (electronic stability control) is provided as standard, ensuring stable and exciting driving performance, but is tuned not to be overly intrusive. ESP® identifies potentially dangerous driving situations and through the use of engine torque control and selective braking of individual wheels, works to bring the car back into line in the event of oversteer or understeer, before the driver risks losing control of the vehicle.

The electronically controlled power steering system gives an optimum balance between effort and instant feedback, ensuring the driver feels in touch with the road at all times. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels with low profile tyres provide excellent grip, while the use of large disc brakes – ventilated at the front – gives confidence-inspiring stopping power with a linear feel.

Packaged for excitement
The bucket-type sports front seats with large side bolsters provide excellent support and sporting character is further expressed in the interior with a leather-trimmed and tilt-adjustable three-spoke steering wheel and stainless steel pedals with rubber inserts. The pedals are ideally placed for sporty driving and are also designed to collapse in the event of a frontal impact, reducing the risk of leg injury.

The sporty black and red combination upholstery is complemented by red trimmed armrests, aluminium-effect strips along the top of the door panels and red stitching around the steering wheel and on the seats and gearshift gaiter. Other fine detailing includes chrome plated interior door handles and a silver-finish gearshift knob.

The instrument binnacle is set relatively low to ensure good forward visibility and reinforce the cabin’s sense of openness. The triple gauge instrument cluster has chrome bezels and features a tachometer with a needle that rests in the six o’clock position, reflecting racing bike convention. A digital information display showing time, fuel consumption and outside temperature is mounted centrally on the leading edge of the fascia.

The radio/CD player is seamlessly integrated into the central fascia and can be operated using either one-touch push button controls on the display panel or additional buttons mounted on the steering wheel. The system features both speed-sensing volume control and MP3-compatibility. Large, dial-type controls for the standard-fit automatic air conditioning are located beneath the audio unit.

All the controls are positioned and weighted to ensure their use is intuitive and reassuring. Trim materials are carefully selected for their tactile qualities, and tight fit and finish throughout contribute to an overall sense of quality and refinement.

At 1,690mm, the Swift has one of the widest bodies in its class. This, together with a long wheelbase, permits a spacious cabin with exceptional people and luggage-carrying flexibility. The neat shape and generous dimensions of the boot space are helped by the compact size of the torsion beam rear suspension.

Storage spaces for mobiles, CDs and other every day motoring paraphernalia are spread around the cabin and include a compartment in the instrument panel, a glovebox, front and rear cup holders (three in total), a seatback pocket, rear quarter trim pockets and front door pockets – large enough for A4-size road atlases.

The ashtray takes the form of a cylindrical pot which slots neatly into any of the cupholders. Thanks to its shape, it doubles as another handy stowage point when not needed by smokers.

There’s an ample 201 litres (VDA) of luggage space behind the rear seat, which can be increased to 494 litres with the seatback folded down. In place of a spare wheel, a tyre repair kit is provided, saving weight and space.

Styled to stand out on the street
Swift Sport builds on the distinctive good looks of its sister Swift models, which in turn develop styling themes first seen in Suzuki’s Concept-S and Concept-S2 show cars.

The influence of these concept models can be seen in the muscular, flared wheel arches, bold sills and ‘wheel-in-each-corner’ design. A broad-shouldered beltline extends the length of the car, from the outer edge of the headlamps through to the tail lights, which, together with the car’s firmly planted stance, endows Swift with its distinctive and characterful appeal.

Other key design features which define the model’s identity are the strong curvature of the nose, together with a wraparound glasshouse effect created by black A and B-pillars, and headlamp housings that sweep rearwards into the wings to mirror the shape of the tail lights.

Swift Sport broadcasts its sporting potential with an even bolder appearance, including restyled front and rear bumpers, a roof spoiler and striking 10-spoke 17-inch alloys shod with Goodyear Eagle F1 195/45R17 tyres.

Twin crease lines characterise the bonnet, flowing downwards into the deep front bumper and defining the outer edge of both the upper honeycomb grille and an additional lower grille, which extends all the way to the lower edge of the bumper. Front fog lamps are provided as standard and are neatly integrated into the air dam elements on either side of the lower grille. They have an eye-catching cylindrical design, bisected by single horizontal bars.

At the rear, the lower section of the redesigned bumper incorporates chunky, chrome-tipped twin exhausts. Both front and rear light housings are subtly restyled versions of those on the mainstream Swift models.

Swift Sport is identified also by a discreet red ‘Sport’ badge on the tailgate and VVT badges just above the side indicators.

Swift Sport’s dynamic lines are set off by a choice of three exterior paint colours: Silky Silver metallic, Cosmic Black Pearl metallic and Supreme Red Pearl.

Easy entry
Swift Sport features keyless entry for simple door lock/unlocking and engine start-up. With this system, there is no fumbling to insert a key in the lock or press a remote, all you need to do is have the key on your person and press the small black button on the door handle to unlock. Once inside the car, the ignition barrel can simply be twisted to start and stop the engine. When parked, press the door handle button once again and the car will be locked and immobilised.

And to make life even easier, particularly when carrying shopping bags or luggage, the tailgate has an electric catch that is released with just a light touch.

Comprehensive safety measures
Swift Sport is robust and well equipped with safety features. The car’s structure is inherently strong – awarded four stars for adult occupant protection by Euro NCAP – featuring extensive use of high tensile steel and tailored blanks to achieve strength without the penalty of added weight.

All models incorporate driver and passenger front and side airbags as standard, together with full length curtain airbags. These are complemented by brake and clutch pedals designed for less risk of driver leg injury in an impact, front seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, energy absorbing trim, three point ELR seatbelts for all seats and child seat ISOFIX attachments on the rear seats. Each seat also has a head restraint, with those in the rear designed to minimise obstruction of the driver’s rearward view.

Pedestrian protection measures were given careful consideration at the design stage and helped Swift gain a three-star Euro NCAP rating, a result that is particularly impressive for a compact car. The bonnet, wings, wipers and front bumper are all designed to be crushable and to absorb impact energy progressively, so reducing the risk of injury.

Active safety provisions that can help the driver avoid an accident in the first place include ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and a brake assist function, fitted as standard across the range.

Swift – ‘global outlook, European focus’
Swift Sport heads a model line-up that comprises:
1.3 GL three and five-door manual
1.5 GLX five-door manual and automatic
1.3 DDiS diesel five-door manual
1.6 VVT Swift Sport three-door manual

Since its launch in 2005, Swift has been widely acclaimed and admired worldwide for its style, mechanical excellence and on road performance. It was soon winner of numerous awards in the various markets.

In the UK, Car magazine named the supermini its ‘Car of the Year’, describing it as “stylish, roomy, good value, pretty quick and a lot of fun to drive.” In Japan it was named 2006 RJC Car of the Year and won the ‘Most Fun’ category in the Japanese Car of the Year awards.

Swift was the first product a radical innovation programme to strengthen Suzuki’s position as both a leading compact car manufacturer and one of the world’s foremost motorcycle brands. It introduced new ideas and design thinking that will define many more new Suzuki models in years to come.

Swift is global in outlook and production – it is built in Japan, Hungary, China and India – but its development has been focused firmly on the demands and tastes of the European market in terms of design and driving characteristics. Indeed, the design team’s first step was to establish a base in Europe, where it was able to gain a valuable insight into the European mindset and draw inspiration from the European environment. And much of the chassis development and refinement was based on real-world intelligence gained through extensive road and track testing across the continent.

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