QUICK DRIVE: Suzuki Swift Sport

We have always been HUGE fans of the Suzuki Swift Sport here at OVERSTEER – it is not only a small car with loads of character, Suzuki have actually made meaningful changes to the ordinary Swift to transform it into the Sport, as opposed to slapping some badges and a spoiler on it.

It not only gets a bigger, more powerful engine, Suzuki also tweaks the suspension, to actually make it sportier.

The result is a car that feels fun even when you are going slow. It exudes a lithe, nimble feel that permeates every aspect of the car, but becomes particularly obvious when you chuck it into a corner.

But this particular Swift Sport you see here has something different about it. Two things, actually.

The first – and the actual reason that Suzuki has put this particular Swift on the press fleet – is a new satellite navigation unit that Suzuki is gradually introducing across its range. Integrated with the infotainment unit and featuring a 6.1-inch touch screen, the Garmin nav unit also combines Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a USB input, CD and SD card playing and, of course, an AM/FM radio.

While initially slightly confusing to use, the navigation unit is welcome addition to the Swift Sport, particularly as it is a no-cost addition. While not the absolute best out there, for the money asked for the Swift, the nav on offer is more than good enough – it is relatively quick, albeit a bit slow to re-route if you miss a turn, but is easy to use once you get used to it.

The other aspect of this Swift Sport that we previously had no experienced before was the CVT transmission.

Now we here at OVERSTEER, along with a lot of other keen drivers, are not particularly big fans of the continuously variable transmission. And while there have been a few cars just lately that are making us soften towards the hated CVT, the Swift isn’t one of them.

That is not to say that it is a bad car in automatic form, its just that the CVT takes the edge off a car that is all about that edge. It still feels every bit as keen and responsive in terms of its chassis and engine, but the CVT just dulls it.

The Swift Sport really is a car that should be bought in manual form (and the vast majority have been) as it is so eager and alive, that any form of automatic transmission distances the driver from that. And the CVT does that better than most.

Still, that said, around town the CVT acquits itself well by being smooth and responsive. The eager power of the Sport’s engine helps it here, with strong responses from down low in the rev range.

Despite the fact the transmission take a lot of the fun out of it somewhat, the rest of the Swift Sport is a brilliantly cohesive as it always has been. The addition of satellite navigation at no cost just makes it even better, and while we would always recommend that it be purchased with a manual transmission, the fact that an automatic is available broadens the Swift Sport’s appeal even more.

Price: $28,990

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol

Power/torque: 100kW/160Nm

Transmission: Continuously variable automatic

0-100km/h: n/a

Fuel consumption: 6.1L/100km

CO2 emissions: 144g/km

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