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Driven: Suzuki Swift Sport swoops in from $25,490

Confidence in numbers: Suzuki is expecting a strong response to its new Swift Sport, based on the competitive package offered with the third generation and the level of enquiry received ahead of launch.

Suzuki confident third generation of Swift Sport hot hatch will dominate segment

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Suzuki logo12 Jan 2018

SUZUKI Australia has thrown down the gauntlet with the reborn Swift Sport, undercutting key rivals – including the Ford Fiesta ST, Volkswagen Polo GTI and Renault Clio RS200 – by at least $2000 while offering more standard equipment.

Kicking off from $25,490 plus on-road costs for the manual and $27,490 for the newly configured automatic, the third-generation AZ-series Swift Sport hot hatch from the Japanese small car and motorcycle specialist is priced sharply for segment domination, with a healthy 1500 sales forecast this year.

According to Suzuki Australia general manager Michael Pachota, the overall package and pent-up demand for the Swift Sport mean this forecast might even prove conservative.

Speaking to GoAuto at the Swift Sport’s launch in Victoria this week, Mr Pachota said the company’s confidence was based on “the level of enquiry we’re getting at the moment on the car prelaunch, and what we’ve had over the last four to five months”.

“We’ve been getting numerous amounts of enquiry regards to when the vehicle will be available … and we’ve already pre-sold 132 units. From that respect, if you forecast the figures moving forward into 2018 we’ve got a huge opportunity to excel above those figures of 1500 units a year,” he said.

Unveiled internationally last September, the latest Sport completes the Swift range renaissance, building on the advances introduced with the more modest GL and GLX Turbo versions launched mid-2017.

New from the ground up, the Sport – like all current Swifts – is lower (by 15mm to 1495mm in overall height) and wider (by 40mm to 1735mm) than before and, lined up against the previous flagship, sits on a 20mm longer wheelbase (2450mm).

Additionally, a more protrusive and aggressively restyled nosecone – made to look like the Sport is ready to pounce – means that overall length stretches by some 50mm to 3890mm over regular variants, matching the preceding model to the millimetre.

Sport-exclusive body parts include LED headlights, a much wider grille with honeycomb motifs, larger foglight housings, aero-optimised under-spoilers, carbon-fibre-style elements for the grille, lip spoiler, side skirts and rear diffuser, fresh 17-inch alloy wheels (with 195/45R17 tyres) and dual tailpipes.

‘Champion Yellow’ is also a Sport-only colour.

Luggage capacity is rated 265 litres. No spare wheel is fitted, leaving owners to make do with a tyre repair kit.

Building on from the GLX Turbo, the cabin makeover brings reshaped front seats yielding greater support, racier instrument dials with revised markings, the inclusion of boost and oil temperature gauges in the multi-info screen between the speedo and tacho, lairy trim inserts, flat-bottomed steering wheel and alloy pedals.

These are on top of the range-wide multimedia touchscreen bringing a reversing camera, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity and Bluetooth telephony. The newcomer also adopts Suzuki’s ‘Heartech’ light-car platform. Although this means a conventional MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam arrangement in the rear, a substantial amount of modification to aid its transformation from warm to hot hatch status has taken place.

Key to this is an 80kg drop in kerb weight, to just 970kg (auto adds 20kg), including a lighter – yet stronger – body with more spot welds for increased rigidity.

As before, the Sport employs unique Monroe-supplied shock absorbers, but gains redesigned wheel hubs and bearings that boost camber rigidity during cornering, a new rear trailing arm that better resists deformation for more precise control, thicker anti-roll bars and larger disc brakes incorporating ventilated 16-inch items up front and 15-inch solid rotors out back.

While the aforementioned changes are in keeping with Suzuki’s product improvement philosophy first outlined when the Swift nameplate was resuscitated in 2004, the Sport’s adoption of downsized forced-induction engine technology represents the series’ biggest change to date – and its biggest threat to the Fiesta ST and Co.

Out goes the high-revving 100kW/160Nm 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine (dubbed M16A), in favour of a variation of the K14C ‘Boosterjet’ as found in the Vitara and S-Cross Turbo SUVs.

The first of this engine family offered with manual transmission in Australia, the 1.4-litre direct-injection four-cylinder turbo with intercooler delivers 103kW of power at 5500rpm and 230Nm of torque between 2500-3000rpm. The latter figure is 10Nm more than in the other applications.

In contrast, the current Fiesta ST’s 1.6-litre turbo produces 134kW/240Nm but is almost 230kg heavier, the 147kW/240Nm Clio RS200 is 248kg heftier and the soon-to-be-replaced Polo GTI boasts 141kW/320Nm in manual guise but tips the scales at 1234kg – 264kg above the Japanese car.

While Suzuki acknowledges that the Europeans are faster to 100km/h from standstill – the Sport needs about eight seconds to achieve the benchmark – which puts it 1.5s shy of the rapid GTI and Clio, Suzuki’s program chief engineer Masao Kobori described the Swift as delivering an “unprecedented level of excitement” and a “whole new realm of driving”.

Driving the front wheels is a slicker and more positive-action version of the previous six-speed manual gearbox, while the new torque-converter auto also offers six forward speeds and paddle shifters, usurping the previous continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Both variants return combined-cycle fuel economy of 6.1 litres per 100km and a CO2 emissions average of 141g/km. Aiding the latter is the Boosterjet turbo’s wastegate valve, which controls boost pressure by opening or closing the gate.

This is also said to improve lower-rev torque response.

On the safety front, the Sport adopts autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist and a system Suzuki calls ‘weaving alert’ that warns the driver if the vehicle is wandering due to operator drowsiness.

The Swift Sport also qualifies for a five-star ANCAP crash test rating.

Finally, the newcomer is subject to advertised capped-price servicing, which also brings an extended warranty from three to five years if owners stick with Suzuki dealers.

2018 Suzuki Swift Sport pricing*
Sport$25,490
Sport (a)$27,490
*Excludes on-road costs

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