Suzuki Swift Sport: Bigger, Faster, Better

 2013 Suzuki Swift Sport side profile Some 8 painstaking years under the knife has transformed the old Swift into a more striking looking machine, with larger and sharper eyes up front and a sharper overall rear profile with sweeping rear lamps. The SSS gets its own signature smoked headlamps with expensive Bi-Xenon projectors and headlamp washers, large single frame front honeycomb grille, sportier foglamp housings in the front while the rear sports a signature twin-piped exhaust system with rear diffuser and center brake light, larger and sportier spoiler and a different rear combi lamp design compared to the regular Swift.

When we were given the opportunity to review the 2013 Suzuki Swift Sport, we opted to go with the CVT variant, not because it costs RM5,000 more than its manual sibling, but because we felt that most buyers would prefer an automatic version instead. Yup, though a stick shift would’ve upped the fun factor, but we figured that whatever we reported would better reflect current market trends. So do allow us to offer our apologies to the manual fraternity. For what it’s worth, both variants have identical century sprint timings (8.7s to hit 100km/h), with the manual being a tad bit faster at the upper echelons of its speed rating (195km/h for the manual vs 190mh/h for the auto). However, what the CVT variant lacks in top speed it takes a point away from the manual in fuel efficiency, with the former being 0.4 liters more frugal than the latter (6.1l/100km vs 6.5l/100km). Of course, actual results may vary, also due in part to the fact that Suzuki’s engineers recommend the use of RON97 fuel for optimum performance, though the minimum fuel rating is good ol’ RON95. This is a welcome change indeed, because the original Swift Sport had a recommended RON98 rating for optimum performance.

This is the second generation Swift Sport, replacing the 1st gen Swift Sport that was launched in 2005 based upon the 2nd gen (vanilla) Swift. A good 8 years has gone by between then and now, with the new Swift Sport being endowed with various enhancements to offer an even more compelling package. Based on the current (3rd gen) Swift, the new Swift Sport shares a similar body profile, which is music to the ears of the aftermarket modding community, who wouldn’t hesitate one bit to pick up a vanilla Swift then dressing it up like a Swift Sport by swapping out the front and rear bumpers and possibly even the front and rear lamps; by doing that you might save a fair bit of coin, but the fact that you can’t change the engine, gearbox, suspension and other aspects of the car, would simply allow you to merely create a Swift Sport replica, minus the true essence of a true Swift Sport. This might satisfy the non-performance oriented crowd, but a true Swifter would discern and appreciate the Sport as a complete package from the inside out.

2013 Suzuki Swift Sport: Form and Function in Harmony

2013 Suzuki Swift Sport front fascia_22013 Suzuki Swift Sport, from the side2013 Suzuki Swift Sport rear side profile

Some 8 painstaking years under the knife has transformed the old Swift into a more striking looking machine, with larger and sharper eyes up front and a sharper overall rear profile with sweeping rear lamps. The SSS gets its own signature smoked headlamps with expensive Bi-Xenon projectors and headlamp washers, large single frame front honeycomb grille, sportier foglamp housings in the front while the rear sports a signature twin-piped exhaust system with rear diffuser and center brake light, larger and sportier spoiler and a different rear combi lamp design compared to the regular Swift. The SSS also gets sportier, wishbone-styled 10-spoke 16” alloys shod with high performance 195/50 R16 Yokohama Advan A13C tyres. Incidentally, this tire variant was originally developed for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X GSR in 2008.

2013 Suzuki Swift Sport interior steering and driver door view 2013 Suzuki Swift Sport instrument cluster 2013 Suzuki Swift Sport, Sport insignia on the driver's seat

Step into the driver’s seat, and you can feel the snugness of the SSS’ sporty, semi-bucket seats envelop you. If there’s anything that shows off a car’s sporty nature, it is the seats. In this respect, the Swift Sport’s front seats tell you that you’re stepping into a sport-oriented ride. A leather-wrapped steering wheel complete with red stitching beckons you to give it a good squeeze to feel the suppleness of the leather. It feels solid and grippy yet well-cushioned, bearing all the hallmarks of a well-designed steering wheel. Just behind the left and right spokes of the wheel you will find “+” and “-“ paddle shifters to operate the 7 preset ratios of the CVT in manual mode.

2013 Suzuki Swift Sport illuminated cluster at dusk

Look up and you will be greeted by 3 large dials flanked by two smaller ones on each side of the instrument cluster. Each of the 5 dials are lined with matte-silver garnish, creating purposeful separation between each of the dials for an easy reference of the car’s operational parameters at a glance. The MID displays outside temperature, gear position, current fuel economy, distance travelled and time. One quick note that I’d like to add about the instrument cluster on the Swift Sport, is that I liked the fact that it didn’t need any fancy backlighting for daytime driving. The lighting of the instrument cluster comes on and off with the parking lights, so it serves as a gentle reminder to turn on your lights after dark, as you won’t be able to see any of the meters (save for the perpetually backlit MID) at dusk. Most if not all new cars on the road employ perpetually backlit meter clusters, so you won’t be able to tell if your headlights are on or off. I notice that more than 50% of drivers who fail to turn on their lights after dark, happen to drive dark colored vehicles. Death wish, maybe?

2013 Suzuki Swift Sport interior dashboard overview

Moving on to the center console, those familiar with the console in the regular Swift would be hard pressed to find the differences here. The audio unit is carried over from the regular Swift’s, as are the center air-conditioning louvers. Even the digital air-conditioning controls (Automatic Climate Control) are similar to the GLX-spec Swift. The audio unit in the SSS plays CDs, with provisions for USB connectivity. Audio is delivered into the cabin via 6 speakers (one in each door and a tweeter in each front door). You can mute or control the volume, toggle between radio stations and switch media with the on-board steering controls. On top of the center air-cond louvers is a sizeable storage compartment with a spring loaded lid, perfect for storing your wallet and smartphone. Beneath the automatic climate controls is a deep storage compartment, offering more storage options. Being a hot hatch, space considerations are important and it’s good to know that every conceivable void has been accounted for; all four doors have generous cutouts for stashing stuff while a stylish yet functional cutout on top of the glovebox runs along the length of the left side of the dashboard.

2013 Suzuki Swift Sport boot space

The extensions made to the length of the new bodyshell and wheelbase are a welcome relief, as it frees up precious millimeters in the rear legroom area. In the previous generation Swift, rear legroom was one of its Achilles’ Heels. 125mm is all that separates the old and new Swift in length, so by increasing the wheelbase by 50mm a lot of that extra spaciousness found its way to the rear. However, the boot remains a little cramped. Being a 5-seater, there’s not much room in the trunk for luggage, so for travelling out of town I would recommend not more than 3 persons on board with one side of the 60:40 split rear seats folded down to boost boot space. With both seats folded down, you gain access to 533 liters.

2013 Suzuki Swift Sport: The Heart of the Matter

2013 Suzuki Swift Sport engine bay

Performance figures don’t lie, and the newly tweaked M16A bears testament to Suzuki’s continued refinement of an already powerful NA powerplant. In its 1st gen form it was generating 123 ponies and 148 Newtons of pulling power. Suzuki’s designers managed to push the boundaries even further, squeezing out an additional 11hp with a mere 100rpm more, but with 12Nm more torque arriving 400 revolutions earlier. The resulting 134hp@6,900rpm and 160Nm@4,400rpm was achieved via a new variable intake system and enhanced variable valve and timing control, with a lower RON fuel rating (RON97 vs RON98). 134 ponies under the hood is no small feat for a naturally aspirated 1,600-cc engine, because even though the cylinders were configured for an undersquare, long stroke design (78mm x 83mm) for better torque output, the fact that it redlines at almost 7,000rpm means that a lot of engineering hours had been put in to keep the engine purring smoothly at the rev limits, because traditionally, long stroke engines aren’t very good at high rpms because of the increased stroke distance (compared to a short stroke engine of equivalent cubic capacity).

A quick look at the officially published dyno chart of the new M16A engine reveals that 130Nm of torque is readily available from a low 2,000rpm, with a swift (pun) rise to its torque peak of 160Nm at 4,400rpm. Harnessing this engine to a CVT was a wise choice indeed, as a CVT is able to take full advantage of high torque engines due to its infinite ratios. What this translates to is a highly driveable car in town situations with a low rpm, where you will rarely find the need to rev beyond 3,000rpm for a more exhilarating ride. Go past 4,000rpm however, and suddenly the engine roars to life, unleashing the beast within with an immediacy and authority of a race-inspired motor. Its free-revving nature beckons you to rev the motor all the way to its redline of 7,100rpm, just to hear it sing (even though technically, max power is already attained at 6,900rpm and is already tapering off). In certain models (regardless of brand) employing a CVT-type transmission, owners have reported a whiny sound originating from the CVT, due to bad design or inferior specs. I am happy to report that the Swift Sport’s CVT is for the most part, inaudible from within the cabin.

2013 Suzuki Swift Sport: Safety First

Being the flagship Swift variant, the Swift Sport is endowed with the usual array of safety considerations. First off, the body of the new SSS (pundits’ nickname for the Suzuki Swift Sport) is based on Suzuki’s Total Effective Control Technology (TECH) which resists impact forces and redirects them away from the driver and passengers. 6 airbags are deployed in the event of a serious collision, including side and curtain airbags, while the pillars incorporate shock-absorbing materials that lessen the impact upon contact with occupants’ heads. An ESP (Electronic Stability Program) governs stability on diverse road conditions, while ABS, EBD, Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist work in tandem to regulate all 4 disc brakes on the Swift Sport, preventing lockups and helping to maintain composure under heavy braking.

As for suspension, the Swift Sport is 15% stiffer up front and 30% firmer in the rear, adding to its jackrabbit capabilities. An added steering-gearbox member, suspension-frame member and larger front wheel bearings help improve yaw response, making the new Swift Sport even tidier around the bends. An uprated suspension with Monroe shock absorbers provide surefootedness and agility at all speeds while built-in rebound springs in the front struts provide anti-roll capabilities to keep the car on rails without sacrificing ride comfort. Put in practice, what you will experience in driving is a car that stays glued to the tarmac with authority, following your every command of the wheel without skipping a beat. On that note, the steering is of the electric variety (EPS) that does away with parasitic losses of a traditional pulley-driven hydraulic steering system. Aside from the usual benefits of an EPS, I feel that the most crucial benefit is that it allows the designers to tune the steering response down to the nth degree, which in the case of the Swift Sport was tuned very well indeed for a swift execution of lane changes or entering a sharp turn.

2013 Suzuki Swift Sport: Parting Words

The Swift 1.4 GLX is already quite an accomplished product, but the Swift Sport 1.6 is that much better overall. At decent price tags of RM RM 97,888 for manual and RM 102,888 for CVT automatic, the Swift Sport offers a more capable suspension setup, high-revving motor, high-performance CVT, added amenities and bling that makes it a worthy successor to the throne vacated by its predecessor. It is not only larger than the car it replaces, but also lighter and more powerful. The hot hatch’s body colors remain the favored Snow White Pearl and Champion Yellow. And with Suzuki’s longer than usual model replacement history, you can rest assured that the car you buy now, will remain current for a lot longer, thereby stretching your hard-earned bucks a little further. You also gain access to Suzuki’s Assist Program, which offers 24-hrs Road Assistance, Lifestyle & Concierge arrangements, Home Assist service and speedy claims approvals. You also get to enjoy the kind of unbridled freedom of a car that corners on rails and can keep up with many 2-liter cars on the road while decimating most 1.6-liter naturally-aspirated family sedans out there. Just for the heck of it…

2013 Suzuki Swift Sport images

2013 Suzuki Swift Sport front fascia2013 Suzuki Swift Sport 2013 Suzuki Swift Sport rounded exhaust 2013 Suzuki Swift Sport chromed foglight  2013 Suzuki Swift Sport dynamic lights 2013 Suzuki Swift Sport dynamic lights_22013 Suzuki Swift Sport gear knob

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