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2012 Suzuki Swift Sport Track Test Photo:
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2012 Suzuki Swift Sport Track Test Photo:
2012_suzuki_swift_sport_australia_09 Photo: tmr
2012_suzuki_swift_sport_track_review_35 Photo: tmr
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Tony O'Kane | Feb, 25 2012 | 2 Comments

2012 SUZUKI SWIFT SPORT REVIEW

Suzuki Australia organised some track time for the local launch of the all-new ZC32S Swift Sport, which is good for two reasons.

One: because who doesn’t love being let loose on a race-track in someone else’s car? Two: because it shows that Suzuki is confident that its Swift Sport is just as sharp on a circuit as it is on the open road.

 

On The Track

The track Suzuki selected was the Broadford Motorcycle Complex in central Victoria, a narrow 2.1km circuit with numerous elevation changes and crested corners to challenge driver and machine.

It’s a technical track, and one that’s well-suited to showing off (or showing up) a car’s roadholding competency.

Here, the Swift Sport excels. It’s not a particularly fast-paced layout, but even so the little 100kW Swift Sport managed to top out at 155km/h by the end of the front straight.

It quickly loses momentum up hills if you don’t keep the engine on the boil (particularly on Broadford’s steep turn one) but it’s simply a matter of finding the right gear and exploring the Sport’s willing rev-band.

Peak torque (160Nm) occurs at 4400rpm and peak power (100kW) arrives at 6900rpm - keep the tacho needle within this range, and the Sport gets around this track like a rabbit.

The slight notchiness of the six-speed manual gearshift disappears when you’re punching it through the gate and heel-toe rev matching - thanks to the well-spaced pedals - is also a cinch.

But by far the most impressive aspect of the 2012 Suzuki Swift Sport is the way it handles.

Despite being larger and more generously equipped than the last-gen ZC31S Swift Sport, the new model is a full 30kg lighter. At 1060kg it’s a real featherweight, and it feels incredibly agile.

That weight loss comes from greater use of high-tensile steel in the chassis, lighter flow-formed wheels rather than conventional cast alloys, and other weight savings aiding braking, acceleration and suspension response.

Compared to the regular Swift, the spring-rates on the Sport’s MacPherson strut front suspension are 15 percent stiffer, and 30 percent stiffer at the rear (torsion beam) reducing understeer and improving cornering stability.

On the track it feels lively and very nimble. You want to tuck the nose into a corner? Just lift-off for easily controlled oversteer. Turn off the stability control, and, though it never remains fully off, a mild slip-angle can be maintained through faster corners.

Even with it on it will allow a small amount of rear slip, and, when the system intervenes, it smoothly (rather than abruptly) brings the car back into line.

The traction control system also got a fair workout at Broadford, though this had more to do with the many mid-corner elevation changes than the quality of the Sport’s tyres.

In fact, the Sport’s tyres are superb. They’re 195-section Bridgestone RE50s, and they provide really good grip.

Our only major complaint with the Swift Sport’s handling and feel lies with the electrically-assisted power steering. It’s too heavily-assisted, and transmits little in the way of feedback to the driver’s fingertips.

 

TMR Track Verdict:

Four out of five stars for a car with just 100kW? Absolutely.

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The Swift Sport will never set the lap record at your local circuit, but what it lacks in outright speed it more that makes up for with engaging handling.

Put it on a larger, faster track like Phillip Island and it would undoubtedly be found out. But on a tight and technical circuit like Broadford or Winton, it’s a barrel of fun.

It handles magnificently, and the whole Swift Sport experience is reminiscent of hot hatches of days gone by - not the least, the Sport’s ancestor, the Swift GTi. Lightweight, chuckable, fun, but not all that fast.

But not only is it entertaining on track, the Swift Sport also makes an excellent day-to-day car. Retailing at $23,990 for the manual version, it’s a bit of a bargain.

From almost every angle the Swift Sport has tremendous appeal. As an all-rounder, it’s pretty hard to beat.

 
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