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Hamilton
Wednesday - 21 October 2020

Oh it’s really Swift!

It’s always been the case that some cars are simply more fun than others and one of the perennial Kiwi “fun car” favourites, the Suzuki Swift Sport, just got an update. It’s broken through the $30k barrier and comes with all manner of gadgets from satnav to adaptive cruise control, so is it still as fun as it used to be?

Well yes… yes it bloody well is! I’m on the wrong side of 40, but behind the wheel of the Swift Sport, I feel like a 20-year-old boy racer.

What do you get for $30,990?

The 2020 Suzuki Swift Sport Auto is a 990kg pocket rocket with its 1.4L turbo charged petrol powerhouse pushing out 103kW of power and 230Nm of torque. This does not make it a hot hatch, I don’t care what people say, but it does move.

Suzuki Swift Sport

The new Swift Sport comes fully loaded. Full smart phone integration with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, adaptive cruise control, parking sensors in the rear for those who need ‘em, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning system, high beam assist, brake assist, six airbags, weaving alert, reversing camera, climate control, paddle shifters, bucket seats… the whole 9 yards of gadget wizardry at your fingertips. Sure, the screen or audio aren’t as crisp as, say, the ones that ship with top end Euros, but you’re also not paying their kind of money for them.

You get a 5-star safety rated city nipper that is both fun and surprisingly versatile.

Suzuki Swift Sport interior

Is it refined?

Absolutely not. It’s noisy and made from cheap enough materials so you can drive one for $30k. Hard plastic galore and fake carbon fibre details that don’t even pretend to be anything they are not. It’s a bit jittery on slow speeds when cold and you wouldn’t dream of taking a call in the car on anything other than smooth concrete surfaces if you want to hear what the caller is saying. That said, it wasn’t made to be a travelling sales person’s work horse.

Is it big enough for a small family?

You know what, I was surprised to find that it actually is! The boot isn’t huge at 265L with the seats up, but space for rear passengers is really good. I dreaded the thought of installing our baby seat in the back, but the ISOFIX anchors made it really easy and there was plenty of room to scoot the front passenger seat back for even a slightly taller passenger to get comfy in the front.

Ice hockey bag and a pram in the boot

Even with the small boot, it’s big enough to pass the global benchmark ice hockey bag and pram standard with the rear seats up.

What’s it like to drive?

A hoot and a half! It’s phenomenally nippy in Auckland traffic and gets up to motorway speed well before you run out of onramp space. U-turns are easy as in small space if you happen to find yourself in a dead-end at some Wiri industrial estate – no-no, it happens – and the adaptive cruise works really well on highways, but cuts out at 30 km/h so not really useful as a stop’n’go autopilot.

Suzuki Swift Sport

Having said that, straight multi-lanes aren’t this car’s favourite playground. You gotta find yourself some windy back roads that the council hasn’t – yet – limited to 60, which is exactly what I did.

When you find a good empty stretch and put your foot down, I’ll challenge anyone to find a more fun car for the job. The Swift’s standard Contis grip phenomenally well, but even then you’ll get the yellow ESC light flashing at your regularly on the perfect road.

On certain types of corners the thick A-pillar does create a sizeable blind spot, but otherwise the visibility is good and the Swift takes even tight corners like a champion.

Is it the Green Warrior’s best friend?

With the best will in the world… no. The Swift Sport’s green credentials are actually rather average. Listed fuel consumption of 6.1 L/100km isn’t far off the mark of what I got and CO2 emissions stand at 141 g/km. On that… it turns out that it is possible to go through half a tank on one drive of the rural stretch from Huntly to neighbouring Ngaruawahia.

That half a tank was totally worth it! It was so much fun it shaved 20 years off my age!

Should I buy it?

Definitely not! Not this one… it’s seen more airtime than a skateboard at the X-Games, but you should buy one just like it. At this price point it is the most fun I’ve ever had behind the wheel. The 2020 Suzuki Swift Sport Auto is a great car for everyday life in the city, but you buy it because of the way it makes you feel on the back stretches of rural Waikato.

Setti Mulari
Nerd. Dad. Probably lived in more countries than you. Will stop to stare at nice cars.

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