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Suzuki developing Swift ‘GTI’ and Kizashi turbo

Waiting for a hero: The new Swift range will eventually be topped by a sporty variant.

Higher-performance versions of Suzuki’s Kizashi and all-new Swift are underway

Suzuki logo18 Oct 2010

STAND BY for higher-performance versions of Suzuki’s Kizashi and all-new Swift.

That’s the word from Suzuki Australia, which staged the world debut of the Kizashi Turbo concept and the Australian debut of the all-new Swift in Sydney on Friday.

General manager Tony Devers said his company was “very serious” about releasing a production version of the turbocharged mid-size sedan show car, which was developed by Suzuki’s North American performance partner Road Race Motorsports to test local reaction to a more powerful version of the accomplished Kizashi.

30 center imageLeft: Suzuki Swift. Below: Suzuki Kizashi Turbo concept.

While the Kizashi hybrid slated for US release in 2011 has not been confirmed for Australia, GoAuto understands RRM – which is now offering aftermarket turbo kits for the Kizashi worldwide – will also develop a turbo version of the CVT-only Kizashi Sport AWD launched here in February at $39,990.

The front-wheel drive manual Kizashi Turbo concept increases the performance of the standard 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine from 131kW/230Nm to 179kW/330Nm.

A 216kW/377Nm - and even a 233kW - engine option is also available in the US, where Hyundai has just released a turbo version of its direct rival, the Sonata (sold here as the i45).

Mr Devers said he was so confident about the Kizashi turbo that he promised the media it will get to drive it “in a month or so”.

Asked if the recent formation of an industrial alliance between Suzuki and Volkswagen would make a VW-engined Kizashi V6 more likely to eventuate than a Kizashi Turbo production model, Mr Devers said: “I’d like to persist with this.”

Mr Devers said the VW-Suzuki collaboration would likely provide the Japanese brand with V6 and diesel engines, while the German car-making giant would benefit from Suzuki’s small-car expertise and stronghold in the exploding Indian car market.

“We’ve both got project teams working on it,” he said. “It’s only been probably six months, so I’m sure there’ll be certain things like model variants we’ll work together with, but we haven’t been told of anything at this stage.

“We need a V6 engine and a diesel VW are pretty good with that. We’re good at light cars and we’re strong in India, so the benefits will be mutual.”

However, Mr Devers said VW diesel power is unlikely to be seen in the new Swift, which Suzuki has promised will be the most fuel-efficient petrol-powered model in its class when it goes on sale here around March.

“Swift will be petrol-only. The car is so fuel-efficient that the benefit of having incremental (sales) growth is (offset by) extra inventory costs we have to weigh-up.

“We’ve got to look at what the benefits of diesel are with such a compact, fuel-efficient car. Rather than having too many variants in our range… is there a substantial benefit to having it? That’s an issue we have to look at.

“We will evaluate it. If we believe there’s incremental volume in a diesel, we’ll look at it, but right now the engine is so efficient… Swift does 5.3L/100km now, so what are the benefits of a diesel?“We will be class-leading for fuel economy even without diesel.”

As we reported last Friday, Suzuki has committed to fitting seven airbags as standard across the third-generation Swift hatch range, giving it “the most comprehensive standard safety package ever seen in a light car at this price-point in Australia”.

The local Swift line-up is yet to be confirmed, but 1.4-litre and 1.5-litre petrol engines are under consideration, both offering more power and efficiency than the current 1.5, which delivers 74kW/133Nm and returns 6.3L/100km.

Australians are unlikely to be offered either the entry-level version of Europe’s redesigned Swift – powered by a new 69kW/118Nm 1.2-litre petrol unit (replacing the current 1.3) that consumes 5.0L/100km – or the revised 75kW/190Nm 1.3-litre DDiS turbo-diesel that returns 4.2L/100km.

“They’ve put a lot of efficiencies into the car,” said Mr Devers. “We’re still four to five months away from launch, but weight and a brand-new engine and those sorts of things are what it’s all about.”

However, he confirmed a replacement for the current Swift Sport is six to nine months away and could even wear a GTI badge.

“They’ve committed to that (Swift Sport replacement) and we’re working on it feverishly. We’d love to put a GTI badge on it, but who knows.”

The Swift range-topper will offer more power than the standard model (the current Swift Sport features a 92kW/148Nm 1.6-litre petrol engine), but this time it will also be available with an auto.

“We haven’t seen it yet, but it will be a more muscular car compared with the base car,” said Mr Devers. “The new one will have more power and hopefully we’ll have an auto in it this time, so we can’t wait for that.”

Mr Devers defended criticism the new Swift does not look different enough from the current model.

“People say it doesn’t look any different, but I think if you put them side-by-side they look substantially different,” he said.

“The quality inside is much better, too. It’s vastly improved and… the interior space is larger, despite the fact the exterior is about the same.”

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