About two years ago Suzuki South Africa reached a super milestone. They sold over 1 000 cars in one month for the first time. Since then, the brand has pretty much stayed on that level, reflecting on how Mzansi consumers have embraced it over the years. With the launch of the new Swift Sport and Vitara Turbo, Suzuki is, in a way, thanking those customers by giving them something to smile even more about.

That’s because the new Vitara Turbo and Swift Sport feature a new turbocharged engine that adds some welcome vuma to products that are already some of the best in their class. The Swift Sport is an entry-level hot hatch that plays mainly against the Opel Corsa GSi in this country. A cult leader of note, the Swift Sport now has an even sweeter offering to those who like nimble little hatches with spunk and style.

Suzuki’s new 1.4-litre Boosterjet turbocharged engine makes a nice 103kW of power at 5 500rpm and 230Nm of torque between 2 500rpm and 3 500rpm. That’s 3kW and 70Nm more than its 2005 predecessor. Moreover, all that power will be felt quite sharply in Gauteng where the old Swift Sport lost out on about 17% of its power because of the high altitude. Very importantly too, is that Suzuki took the car on a hard training regime, from which it returned some 90kg slimmer.

That combination of more power and less weight is what performance cars demand. It’s what makes the difference when it comes to straight line speed and cornering. While on speed, Suzuki says the Swift Sport will hit 100km/h in 8 seconds from standstill, with top speed set at 205km/h. Potential buyers with left leg issues or those who live in congested cities will be happy to know it comes fitted with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. Both are said to have the same sprint time. The automatic is paired with shift paddles behind the steering wheel.

I drove the 6-speed manual which now has an updated short-shift pattern. Working in tandem with its new synchromesh clutch system the car feels as agile as ever, giving positive feedback with each driver input. On display behind the steering wheel is an LCD display that can also show boost from both power and torque. This is big sports car stuff.

Driver and front passenger are hugged by manually-adjustable semi-bucket seats which help keep you upright when taking sharp corners at high pace. And that’s exactly what I did around the Red Star Raceway track in the east of Gauteng. The stainless steel pedals are responsive (and nice to look at), as the engine spools up the turbo during hard acceleration. Torque is delivered to the 16-inch tyres in a linear fashion across the rev range and there is very little lag to speak of.

The car’s interior has been upgraded with extra sportiness, provided by the likes of those bucket seats, a touch screen infotainment system that can be connected to Apple Carplay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connection, USB connection and cruise control among others.

The Suzuki Swift Sport plays in a tiny segment where it has virtually no direct competitors. Entry-level hot hatches have not made that great an impact in this country, but the Swift Sport is one whose following has kept growing over the years. The new car is everything they would want. And more.

Suzuki Swift Sport Prices

Swift Sport manual – R315 900

Swift Sport auto – R335 900

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