AA Driven COTY 2018: Why the Suzuki Swift Sport made the top 10
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As good as the previous generation Suzuki Swift Sport was, it always had to fight for its standing as a hot hatch.
Some would glance at the badge, the numbers on the spec-sheet, or the cutesy styling and immediately decide it was merely a “warm hatch” at best. A hateful term, for a car that would run circles around the hot hatches of the 80s and 90s while delivering ample driving thrills.
No such problem, however, for this new one.
We became acquainted with the bubbly 2018 Swift Sport in February. Ironically, that press vehicle was the same one that appeared at our AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year Award event.
And despite a rostrum of motoring journalists giving it hell for almost 12 months, it still felt as tight as a nut.
“Suzuki raised the bar again with Swift Sport, which delivers a well-balanced compromise between driving fun and everyday practicality,” said the COTY judges.
Let’s talk numbers. The Swift Sport comes powered by a BoosterJet 16-valve turbocharged four-cylinder engine that conjures 103kW of power and 230Nm of torque. The 100km/h barrier is crossed in 7.2 secs.
In today’s power-spoiled world, where blenders and cheese graters can make more than 103kW of power, those figures don’t particularly excite on first impression. But consider this; the Swift weighs a mere 970kg in its manual derivative. And that means it’s 90kg lighter and 70Nm “torquier” than the last one.
Click here to read five ways the new Suzuki Swift Sport is better than the last
The result is a car that never feels under-powered, as the old one did. The “Vitara engine” may not be as involving as its predecessor but it feels twice as powerful and twice as usable.
And, as you’d expect, it’s also a laugh to drive. Suzuki’s tried-and-true ethos of placing each of the Swift’s four wheels as close to the corners as possible gives the Sport a fun platform to build off. Bigger brakes, stiffer suspension (a combination of MacPherson strut and torsion beam), Continental ContiSportContact5 rubber, and a slick six-speed manual help complete a scrappy, fun-filled recipe.
But don’t write the Swift Sport off as a go-kart with a roof and nothing more.
Its solid suite of safety tech, includes satnav, a reversing camera, and the all-critical Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
The amount of equipment packed into it — don’t forget adaptive cruise control — is impressive, especially considering that pricing starts at $28,500 — making it the only sub-$30k car among our COTY finalists.
We called it an instant classic in February. Nothing has changed.
● As a finalist in the AA Driven New Zealand Car of the Year award, the Suzuki Swift Sport is also a contender for the People’s Choice Award. Cast your vote by clicking here. Your entry could win an eight-night Fiji cruise for two.
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