Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee
Our favourite new car of the moment has to be the Suzuki Swift Sport. It’s a triple S…and yes, that’ll probably make older readers think of the Datsun SSS.
There are, at face value, some similarities: the Dust Bins of the SSS era did have a reputation as solid, simple and authentic performance cars for the masses. The Swift Sport is much the same in spirit.
A performance version was part of the previous Swift range so a Sport-badged version isn’t new but there has been an about-face as far as the drivetrain is concerned. As is pretty much standard operating procedure nowadays, a revvy, normally-aspirated petrol engine has been replaced by a grunty and low-revving turbo, 1.6-litres of displacement giving way to 1.4.
Both a six-speed manual and a (conventional) six-speed auto are available and guess what? The two-pedal version is quicker. Which suits me just fine and if I never tramped on a clutch pedal again it wouldn’t be too soon.
I reckon the auto, convincingly faster from 0 – 100 km/h and also over the quarter-mile, is going to be better around a track. If, like I have done for the last 30 years or so, you drive an auto with both feet, it can also be more fun. With the transition from brake to throttle smoothed out and minimised (un-squeezing the one while the other is added progressively) the car can be kept better balanced. And as I always tell my Stigworx students, those transition zones are where the speed is to be found.
Back to the car: at R315 000 or thereabouts it represents great performance value. Sure, it doesn’t have the vault-like solidity and refinement (which makes it feel more like a C-segment hatchback) of a Polo GTI but there’s a 60K price difference. The interiors are some way apart – the Suzie feeling businesslike and functional in comparison to the lush and plush slush-mouldings of the German. But when it comes to conveniece and comfort, you'll want for very little.
The Boosterjet turbo makes 103kW and 230Nm and trust me, it's more than sufficicient 99 percent of the time...
An important consideration is that the Swift was deliberately engineered to be a sub-1 000 kg car – with all the benefits that entails. It is light on its feet, light on fuel, and quick away from the lights. On the launch I also saw it stand up happily to a fair amount of abuse, without any signs of complaining.
I’m probably a quarter-century outside their age profile but I can’t think of a better “city” car for an empty-nester who still likes a bit of fizz now and then. Heck, I might even opt for the extrovert Champion Yellow paintwork.