The local hatchback market is saturated. Entering into this mix is the Suzuki Swift Sport 1600. What does this little Japanese car bring to the fight?Looks
Built on the 2nd generation Suzuki Swift, the Sport 1600 is a good looking little car. Not as dramatic as a Clio, it is certainly Japanese in origin. I see Chinese take-away in the design, or is that just me?
The front is dominated by the 2 large rectangular headlamps and a large, mouth-shaped grill. In side-profile, it appears rather more take-away-boxy with its high window sills and square side profile.
The back is a conundrum. Certainly the sport model in the line-up, my co-driver commented that the twin-exhausts make the rear bumper look rather like a Clio Sport with its twin tailpipes, and an older Renault Megane higher up on the rear.
The interior has a plush feel to it, with a number of ‘big car’ features like ‘set and forget’ climate control, MP3 CD/Radio and all round electric windows. The gearbox, steering wheel, instrument cluster and seats are outlined in a red Suzuki Sport motif, with Sport embroidered on the seats.
The only downfall of the interior is the finishes. I counted a total of 5 different finishes around the interior. The finishes are not radically different, but there is enough of a variety to notice.
Powered by a 1,6l petrol engine producing 100kW, the Suzuki Swift Sport 1600 is not slow, but certainly not a true hot hatch. The power range sits inbetween hot hatches like the Polo GTi and Corsa OPC, and faster entry-level vehicles like the Polo Vivo GT.
The engine is paired to a lovely 6-speed manual gearbox. With smooth shifts, the gearbox feels like it was designer for urban cruising – think more William Nichol midday traffic than bumper to bumper. Even though the engine only has 9kW more than the 1st generation Swift Sport, the gearbox and the 30kg weight loss makes it feel punchier. The performance could not be termed hot, but is more aligned with the term “peppery.”
Coming in at R213 900, the Swift Sport sits in terribly close to the fashion hatch sector. Fiat 500 Abarth and Mini Cooper are slightly more expensive and slightly less powerful. I do think the Suzuki carries a good value proposition. It may not have the brand prestige of the Mini has or the heritage of the Abarth, but there is a sort of budget power appeal to it.
Suzuki wants to ship 40 units per month. I think this is rather optimistic, but 20 units a month is easily reachable. Good luck.
All in all, the Suzuki Swift Sport 1600 offers a good deal, with a good deal of standard equipment to appeal to a buyer who does not want something like a Mini Cooper. The ride, engine and gearbox are fitting of a Sport motif on a car that costs R213 900, but the exterior is a bit of a letdown. It’s a love-or-hate look that will determine whether you consider this vehicle or not.
Specs via Manufacturers data.