Suzuki Swift Sport now boosted

I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for small performance hatchbacks, but that’s not to say that when one arrives that I’ll be smitten with it, in fact, I’d consider myself the harshest of critics when it comes to these micro-performers because I know what I’m looking to get out of the driving experience.

Recently I had the Opel Corsa GSi on test, shortly after that, the new Suzuki Swift Sport (SSS) arrived, making a comparison between the two inevitable.

Forced induction

The previous generation Swift Sport was one of the last naturally aspirated performance hatchbacks available. The latest generation of Suzuki’s hot hatchback, codenamed ZC33S, presented South Africans with a somewhat bittersweet moment as it signalled the introduction of turbocharging into Suzuki South Africa’s line-up while simultaneously committing the high-revving engines of old to the annals of history. While I’d consider myself a fan of forced induction, there are a few vehicles that make a case for the virtues of naturally aspirated motors, the first two generations of the Swift Sport are two examples while others include the Honda S2000, Porsche’s GT3, Audi and Lamborghini’s V10-powered supercars and of course, the super saloons of yesteryear from the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes-AMG.

We are in an age of turbocharging and electrification though. The larger vehicle types were the first to receive the downsizing trend, while may explain why it has taken Suzuki, mostly a purveyor of smaller vehicles, so long to adapt. This isn’t a bad thing though, to my mind at least, modern turbo petrol engines have become deeply impressive and, on paper, at least the latest Swift Sport is a superior product to the car that it replaces.

The makings of a hot hatch

When a vehicle arrives on test here at Autodealer, there’s usually a mixed set of emotions amongst the three of us tasked with evaluating any given car because, well, we’re all very different when it comes to our preferences. When a manual, Champion Yellow Swift Sport arrived though, there was an almost universal acceptance, with the obligatory nods of approval from the editorial team.

I took the car for the first four days of the test and immediately got down to the task of determining if this is a worthy successor and indeed if it’s a worthy competitor in the tough, modern performance arena. The new Boosterjet motor under the bonnet of the latest car displaces just 1.4-litres, however, the addition of a turbocharger has resulted in 103kW and 230 N.m, just 3kW more than before, but significantly 70 N.m more torque and far less power loss at altitude than before. This means that the new car will annihilate the older variant in a straight line, not just in a robot-to-robot scenario, but also in terms of in-gear acceleration.

There’s the option of a six-speed manual or a six-speed torque-converter automatic. The latter has proven itself to be quicker in a straight line, however, it is likely to take away much of the driving fun associated with swapping cogs yourself. The added torque, especially lower in the rev range also make the performance of the car more accessible, more of the time. It also means that the fuel consumption is slightly lower than before because you don’t have to thrash the car to get your thrills.


As much as an enthusiast will bemoan the inclusion of what they may deem ‘unnecessary’ features in modern performance cars, the fact of the matter is that those who buy these cars will be using them quite a bit. Therefore, the slightly more pliant ride quality coupled with features such as a colour touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six airbags, climate control, cruise control and LED head and taillights to name a few, is a welcome addition, making the SSS a far more agreeable car from a daily driving perspective.

Driving SSS

So far, so good, but many modern cars are turbocharged, any many will hurl you down the road at a good rate of knots, but does the latest Swift inspire your inner hooligan as a good performance hatchback should? The answer, in my opinion, is, yes and no. The new car fails to enchant as its predecessors did in terms of sheer driver engagement, it feels clinical yet light and nimble, but a tad uninspiring all at the same time. There’s a paradoxical, almost oxymoronic tone to how the car makes you feel. At 970kg, it’s light by modern standards, the turn-in is sharp, the mechanical grip is there and the little engine pulls well, yet, it’s missing something, that intangible, indescribable quality that so many performance cars are missing these days. The more philosophical of my contemporaries will likely conclude that cars are losing their souls; I just think that it’s the extensive and inevitable use of electronics in most vehicle systems that are removing the driver from the act of driving.


From a local perspective, the little Suzuki is the king of its segment, having easily dispatched the Corsa GSi as not only a superior performer, but a far better value proposition than the ageing Opel. For those looking for a nippy, fun and well-equipped hatchback, the Swift Sport will not disappoint, however, those looking for the hard-edged driver’s car of yesteryear, well those are in short supply these days.


R 315 900


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