On the road: Suzuki Swift Sport – plenty of oomph from this warm hatch
The Suzuki Swift Sport provides plenty of driving thrills to match the Renault Twingo and Mini Cooper, but costs a fraction of the price…
Fun is the name of the game with the Suzuki Swift Sport. It takes the fight to warm hatches like the Mini Cooper and Renault Twingo RS, with a blend of low weight and a punchy engine in a stylish body – and all for a great-value price. This car will put a smile on your face every time you drive it.
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The Suzuki Swift Sport features a subtle bodykit, 16” alloys, rear diffuser and twin exhausts to mark it out from the regular hatch. Tinted rear windows and a spoiler complete the racy look on the outside.
On the inside, it’s stylish, solid and well equipped. It’s fitted with aluminium pedals and sports seats. In other respects, the Swift Sport isn’t much different to the regular hatch, but that’s no bad thing, as you get a decent driving position and a well laid-out dash. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth and USB connectivity, as well as climate control. There’s even a multifunction steering wheel with red interior stitching.
The M16A 1.6L engine in the Swift Sport delivers 100kW and 160Nm, and when it’s pushed it provides the sort of screaming soundtrack that will get hot hatch fans excited. The Suzuki Swift weighs a tad over a ton – around 100kg less than a Mini Cooper – straight-line performance is respectable, with the car sprinting from 0-100kph in only 8.7 seconds and hitting a 195kph top speed.
The Swift Sport features a lower and stiffer suspension than in the standard model, and the steering sharper, the car loves to be pushed through corners, where body roll has been virtually eliminated. The snappy shifts of the standard six-speed manual gearbox only add to the driver appeal.
It doesn’t have the hard-hitting performance to match the Ford Fiesta ST or the Polo GTI – but those are completely different cars in their own right. The Swift Sport remains naturally-aspirated versus the run-of-the-mill turbocharged brats.
The Suzuki Swift Sport is longer and wider than the predecessor Swift Sport, so space inside is at a premium – especially for passengers in the rear. It includes cup holders on the door panels, plus a further one up front, as well as a decent-sized cubby hole and storage in the centre console. However, the boot trails the class leaders on space, and you’ll possibly only squeeze in a few bags of groceries. But if you need the space, the rear seats fold down with ease…
The Swift Sport doesn’t only offer better performance than its predecessor; it’s also more efficient. The 1.6L engine returns 6.2-litres per 100km as a combined fuel cycle (tested) and emits 153g/km of CO2 – the 90kW Mini Cooper is cleaner with 136g/km of CO2, but it’s not as fast as the Swift and is more expensive to buy in the first place.
You also get more for your money with the Suzuki, while Mini customers pay extra for Bluetooth, climate control and metallic paint. At R218 900, I believe that it is a bargain up against the Mini and Renault Twingo. It’s equipped with the all the necessary bells and whistles, it has the backing from a reliable brand and it comes with a 4-yr/60,000km service plan.
To be honest, I have a soft spot for the Swift Sport. It is a competent little car with decent performance and it is one of my favourites due to its plucky personality. I’ll have one in my garage any day of the week!
Technology – eCall could saves thousands of lives every year
All new cars produced in the European Union from October 2015 will have to be fitted with an “eCall” system that calls emergency services in the event of a crash, under a proposal set to be adopted by the Commission in early June 2013. The system automatically dials 112 – Europe’s single emergency – and communicates the vehicle’s location to emergency services, even if the driver is unconscious or unable to make a phone call.
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The Commission estimates that installation will cost less than R1300 per car. A 2011 impact assessment concluded that the only way to ensure adoption was to make it mandatory.
The Commission estimates that the new technology could save up to 2500 lives a year in Europe and thousands more if adopted across the world. eCall could speed up emergency response times by 40% in urban areas and 50% in the countryside.
The proper infrastructure will also have to be set up in member states’ emergency response centres. Ford and other car-makers have complained about being compelled to install a signalling system which cannot yet be received and understood by emergency dispatchers.
Ford uses an in-vehicle technology that would call 112 via a Bluetooth-connected smartphone, which would not satisfy the requirement that the vehicle itself must be able to make the call.
The proposal consists of a regulation on type approval for new passenger vehicles, and a decision on the deployment of the system in emergency centres. The Commission is also seeking to oblige member states to rapidly upgrade their emergency services through the Intelligent Transport Systems directive.
In South Africa, we have between 40-60 fatalities a day on our roads – among the highest in the world! The eCall system could help us to reduce the number of deaths on roads.
ECO Speedweek heads to Hakskeenpan
Zero emission vehicles to battle it out in a series of challenges to determine SA’s ECO king
One of the most interesting displays at Afrimold shows included the Speedweek stand. A solar-powered vehicle – built by engineering students at the University of Johannesburg, as well as a Nissan Leaf – a full electric vehicle that will possibly go on sale in South Africa in 2015, were displayed to show visitors. The display was used to create awareness about Speedweek and the ECO challenge to speed enthusiasts as well.
NEWS: Thegandra Naidoo in coversation with BizRadio’s Grant Jansen
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What is Speedweek? It is a club event designed for ordinary individuals who drive street legal cars – irrespective of make and model – to participate in a high speed event. It challenges both man and machine to overcome their fears and blast along a 5.5km strip to record insanely high speeds. The success of the Speedweek event at Hakskeenpan in the Northern Cape last September was an overwhelming success and the organisers have announced dates for the second event later this year.
The first event was a learning kerb for the event organisers and they’ve now made changes to the race surface to enable cars to travel faster and be safer. According to Jan Els, organiser of Speedweek, the salt pan cracked up after the first day of the event last year and it made it difficult for drivers to find traction and for drivers to take their vehicles to much higher speeds.
He says, “We couldn’t plan around this and couldn’t determine what would happen to surface after numerous high speed blasts. We are now developing an environmentally-friendly chemical that will assist to harden the surface.” He adds that the event went off smoothly and they still want to bring it up to the standards of events such as Bonneville Speedweek in Utah.
However, even with the degrading surface, 136 cars and bikes still participated at the event. Greg Parson recorded the highest speed of 308kph in his Lamborghini Aventador while Andrew Van Zyl went on to record 321kph on a Hyabusa Turbo bike. This year, legendary drivers such as Arrie de Beer and Paulos dos Santos will once again head to the event and attempt to break 330kph-plus in their street cars!
The 2013 event will also incorporate Eco Speedweek. Basically, any vehicle that isn’t powered by normal pump fuel, can participate at this event. These will include cars that are fuelled on hydrogen, solar-powered, and bio fuels as well. The event will be open to universities who have a solar challenge in mind.
The university cars will have an endurance race and a top speed challenge. Else confirms that there is already interest from international universities as well. He says, “This will be an innovation platform for universities to showcase their cars to a wider audience.”
ECO Speedweek will take place from 08-11 September, and will be followed by the Speedweek event from 14-23 September. For more information on the event, visit speedweeksa.com
Thegandra Naidoo? A motoring journalist. He has a decade’s experience in the automotive industry and is best known for his technical knowledge of cars. He has worked on various local television productions and co-presented a motoring feature on Kaya FM a few years back. He currently holds the position as Features & Online Editor for Automotive Business Review. He is currently completing a mid-career Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at the University of the Witwatersrand. Thegandra is a FULL member of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists.