Juliet McGuire

First drive in the new Suzuki Swift Sport and Vitara Turbo [with hot lap video]

Do you want to know what I hate more than a red-eye flight? A red-eye flight to Johannesburg. I know I am alienating my Gauteng readers by saying this, but as many of my ‘Plek-van-Goud’ colleagues can admit, winter in that place is just the pits. It is 50 shades of brown and if you don’t have some form of lubrication for your lips, well best you kiss them goodbye, literally.

SO NOW WHAT?

There are only a few things that can make up for that evil flight, one of them involves a track. Another involves a sporty little beast to throw around said track. Suzuki came to the party this week by allowing us motoring journalists to not only complete hot laps in the feisty new Suzuki Sport Swift, but we were also made to compete against each other in a gymkhana, not to mention the drag races in the new Suzuki Vitara Turbo. What more could we ask for? (I won’t say a later start to the day, but I am thinking it).

THE NEW SUZUKI SWIFT SPORT

The Suzuki Swift must be one of my most recommended cars to those looking for a budget buy and when you throw a sporty engine in to the mix, well it might just very well become my favourite little pocket rocket. The new Boosterjet engine under the bonnet is a fantastic piece of machinery and is so well suited to the Swift Sport (and the Vitara Turbo, but more on that later), that you may not ever want to drive another Suzuki engine again.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

The 1.4-litre unit produces 103 kW of power and 230 Nm of torque. Shave off 90 kg in weight off the previous Swift Sport and you can just picture how this all works in perfect harmony for this new third generation. The six-speed manual transmission is paired perfectly to this engine and we got to experience it while trying to achieve our best time around Red Star Raceway. According to the professional team of Stigworks, my lines were near perfect (obviously) and my time was decent as well. By decent I mean I didn’t win, but I was certainly near the winning end of the scale…just saying.

KEEP IT ON TRACK

Here is a quick tip for those heading on to a track after another driver has been behind the wheel of the car you are about to drive: Check if traction control is on or off. I came close to eating dust when I bolted out the gates like a randy horse only to realise that the traction control had been turned off by my colleague driving before me. It made for a more exhilarating drive though, that much is true.

AUTOPILOT

Back to transmissions, the six-speed automatic transmission is just as pleasing as I put it through its paces at the gymkhana obstacle. And boy did I give it horns. You see, as a woman in this industry, I have always felt the need to prove myself. A gymkhana is a way I get to do this. Don’t ask me why a gymkhana, perhaps it is because I know I am good at them. The Swift Sport did not let me down. I managed to come first in my group…that was until a certain colleague, who happens to be a professional racing instructor, decided he could not let this be and had to better his (and my) time. Which he achieved at the last minute. I am, of course, making this a whole lot more dramatic and may even be adding a little bit of spice to the story, in favour of me, but this is my website and I so can do such things.

In fairness, Ernest is by far a better driver than most of those who attended the launch…he won almost all the obstacles. Pfft!

PRICING OF THE NEW SUZUKI SWIFT SPORT

The new Swift Sport is without a doubt going to appeal to those boy and girl racers out there who have always held a soft spot for it. And for those who may not have considered it before, you’re missing out. If you don’t need a car for particularly practical reasons (the boot space isn’t exactly large but this car is not about that) then you should consider the Swift Sport. You might just find a hidden talent you never knew you had. Gymkhana winning?

This is my two hot laps in the Suzuki Swift Sport

I realise I have not gone in to too much detail about the Swift, but you can get all that info here. I quite like speaking about myself instead it seems. But you can also check out a bit of info in the pic below.

NEW SUZUKI VITARA TURBO

Like I mentioned, we also had the chance to drive the new Vitara Turbo which sees the same engine as the Swift Sport under the bonnet. It produces the same power of 103 kW but a smidge less torque at 220 Nm. The Vitara is another favourite of mine and adding a turbo means it has gone even further up in my good books. Not only did we do drag races in it, but we also drove it to and from the airport. It is fantastic on the open road and there is more than enough oomph to overtake slower vehicles…which we see a lot less of in JHB by the way, especially in the fast lane. Come on Capetonians, learn one thing from our fellow Gautengers, the fast lane is not for dawdling.

PRICING OF THE NEW SUZUKI VITARA TURBO

As much as I like the Suzuki Vitara, one thing has been lacking for me, and that is power. Now that it has a turbo under its skirt, I am even more willing to recommend it. We couldn’t drive the automatic derivatives as they are floating somewhere off Durban Harbour, but if the manual is anything to go by, you will not be disappointed.

For all the info you need on the new Vitara Turbo go to Suzuki’s website. Or just look at the image below.

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