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2018 Suzuki Swift Sport long-term review, part three

By Tony O'Kane, 12 Aug 2018 Car Reviews

2018 Suzuki Swift Sport long-term review, part three

Wide open at Winton brings no wiltin’

Want to know what the most impressive aspect about the Swift Sport is? It’s not its ability to devour corners, nor its pleasingly direct steering, nor its boosty 1.4 litre four. It’s the way it sheds speed when you stand on the middle pedal.

I really wasn’t prepared for that. The latest Swift Sport might be the fastest in Suzuki history, but it’s still far from what you’d describe as ‘rapid’. Hustling it quickly on a mountain road is an exercise in preserving momentum, and you aim to avoid hitting the brakes as much as possible for fear of washing off all that hard-earned forward motion. I hadn’t really had a pressing need to push the Swift’s brakes – until I took it to its first proper circuit outing.

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Rocking up to Winton Raceway for a club track day, the Sport felt just a smidge out of place. Bone-stock and factory-fresh, rolling through in the bright-yellow Suzuki gave me flashbacks to being a meek year 7 student entering a high school locker room for the first time, only to find it full of intimidating year 12s.

But on the circuit, the Sport proved to be a genuine athlete. The engine is probably the only part that doesn’t seem quite so suited to track work, given its low redline and top-end breathlessness. The best is wrung from it by short-shifting, leveraging its feisty slug of mid-range torque, but that hardly feels – or sounds – all that fun. It’s not difficult to tell the Sport’s engine was borrowed from an SUV.

Shifting the powerband further up the rev range would also perhaps tame the Sport’s front-end traction issue. With a surfeit of available Newton metres and an open differential between the front axles, it’ll easily spin up the inside wheel when loaded up in a corner. Fitting tauter springs or swaybars would help reduce that by containing some of the Swift’s extraneous body roll, but would come at the expense of ride comfort. A proper limited-slip differential would be the ideal solution.

Read next: 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport review

Everything else, though, is peachy. The direct, fast-acting steering is a delight, the Continentals surprisingly grippy and the chassis remarkably resistant to understeer and eager to rotate for a front-driver. The body-hugging bucket seats are also perfect for this kind of hard driving, while remaining comfy enough for the two-hour drive to and from the circuit.

And that brings me back to the brakes. Those pint-sized rotors and calipers are nothing special, but with less than a tonne to halt they’re eye-wideningly effective. So much so that my first stab of the brakes at the end of Winton’s front straight came 50 metres too early – braking points that made sense for virtually every other car I’ve driven there were meaningless to the tiny Swift.

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And, like the rest of the car, the brakes were unbelievably durable. An entire day of hard lapping didn’t see them fade to any great degree, while there was still plenty of meat on the pads when it came time to head home. No warped rotors, no overheating engine, no warning lights, no problem. 

Read the full Suzuki Swift Sport long-term review