Unexpected restaurant, unexpected little hole in the wall coffee shop, unexpected road that delights in the end, unexpected person that makes your day … unexpected car that brings much joy.
The Suzuki Swift has always been one of my favourite hatches, value for money, and possibly the best ride and handling for the price today, I’ve suggested to two of my friends to buy one, and they have. (They are very happy with their purchases, just FYI)
The 2012 Swift Sport gets some serious exterior upgrades to give it a … wait for it … sporty look. Front bumper and fog lamps with dark grey surrounds, HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlamps, somewhat sporty looking 16inch rims, rear spoiler and the highlight of course, the dual exhaust pipes with metallic grey diffuser. The diffuser so sporty in fact it might be TOO sporty for the Swift Sport. Sport. Sporty. Say what you will but it’s definitely a masculine looking car, with aggressive front end and rear. I myself would probably swop out the underwhelming 16inchers for some bigger lower profile rubber.
To go with the sporty exterior is a new 1.6litre engine developing 100kW of power and just over 160NM of torque (0-100km in 8.7seconds). It is around 30kg lighter than the previous model even though it features more spec, which helps in keeping fuel economy down. That said, who cares about fuel economy when there’s this lovely free revving 1600cc unit under the bonnet. It revs freely, right up into 7000RPM, which was quite a surprise, but even more of a surprise was the way the entire car comes alive in the higher rev range. This little engine likes to be worked, and you need to, to get the most out of it. I would have liked it if there was an even meatier sound to the exhaust, or, if I’m going to shoot for the stars, a turbocharger strapped to this little beauty. This chassis could handle it with ease, and I would really have liked some more power and torque. Thankfully fuel consumption didn’t suffer, even with my rev-happy nature, bringing it in at just over 8.5l/100km. Suzuki claims 6.5l/100km, which I’m sure is achievable, from the 50litre tank.
Contributing 90% of the fun to the Swift’s fun-factor is the chassis and suspension. It is now 10mm lower than the previous model, with rear suspension redesigned. Stronger front and rear damper springs allowed enhancements to the front suspension without affecting weight, which is crucial in a car of this size. Throw this little beast into the corner and you’re rewarded with some of the most composed handling. It’s like a mini MINI in the handling department. The suspension however provides ample damping without letting the car waft or bounce, whilst still giving a comfortable ride. I struggled to get any understeer out of the Swift, testament to the handling characteristics of the vehicle (no doubt also thanks to standard Electronic Stability Program fitted). It is just SUCH fun to throw around, and the 6-speed gearbox is also quite likeable, even though it’s not as direct as I would have liked. There isn’t heaps of power to get out of control but rather be rewarded by the nimble and agile nature of the vehicle. I can only liken it to a go-cart in quickness and dart-like ability of handling. I myself drive a MINI and was thoroughly impressed at what the Suzuki had to offer.
Quick responsive steering was sometimes a little overassisted but nothing like the Korean marquees. There’s more than enough response from the front wheels doing all the work in this case. Braking was confidence inducing and featured ABS, Electronic Brake force Distribution and Brake Assist.
The interior is also enhanced with some very sporty cloth seats, red stitching and I’m told, sporty changes to the dials, gear-lever and pedals. I really like the Swift’s interior, so simple, well laid out and spacious. There is enough space for passengers in the rear and the rear seats fold down 60:40 split. Dash and other plastics are of a good quality, not soft touch, but they don’t look or feel cheap. The Swift received a 5-star NCAP safety rating with standard safety equipment, which includes dual front airbags and 4 head and side airbags. Door pockets, dual cupholders and other odd bins to place various items in the car is a nice touch, as well as the Aux & USB Port. A six-speaker stereo is standard and thankfully did not sound like something from World War 1. Surprises at this price were keyless entry and keyless go (start button), automatic climate control, which worked too well, steering wheel mounted controls for everything and HID headlamps, which are always a welcome sight. Other standard features included electric mirrors, windows (all round) and a simple trip computer.
The interior really is a simple, ergonomically friendly place to be, with little to no complication. Only problem is the minute boot … smaller in fact than the MINI Cooper … smaller than a drawer in your kitchen, the glove-box of a Land-Cruiser or Harry’s bedroom under the stairs. That said you can always just open up the rear door and throw whatever you need to in there.
Hold onto your drinks ladies and gentleman, because the real kicker is here. All this, for R213 900. This includes metallic paint as well as 4year/60 000km service plan including full AA roadside assist. Such fun, looks and exceptional value for money just isn’t available at this price range. Stick your badge pride in your pocked and go test drive this little one before you go for the standard Polo / Fiesta / Twingo, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.