Small car master, Suzuki knows a thing or two about building hot machines at modest prices. We won’t get into talking about Suzuki motorcycles here, we’ll leave that for our bike guys Peter Thoeming and Stuart Woodbury.

What we are reporting on is the latest version of a car that first delighted hot-car lovers on a limited budget – the Suzuki Swift GTi – over thirty years back. In recent generations it has been given the title of Swift Sport Turbo.

The term ‘pocket rocket’ has been used many times over the years, and every generation of this hot little Suzuki certainly deserves it. Now comes the latest and greatest, the 2018 Swift Sport Turbo. While it has grown in size exceptional engineering means it is lighter, weighing in at just 975 kg. It also has more power and better tuned suspension than ever before.

Power comes from a 1.4 litre-turbo-petrol four-cylinder unit delivering 103 kW, and an impressive 230 Nm of torque that reaches its max at 2500 and holds that level till 3500 revs. Even once torque has passed its peak (or should that be its plateau?) there’s still good grunt till well into the 5K range.

With a price tag of just $24,990 for the six-speed manual, and $26,990 for a six-speed auto, you get a lot of bang for your bucks.

In an interesting manner Suzuki Queensland took us to the Norwell performance driving centre (these days tagged the Motorplex) about midway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. There we were able to push the little Suzies to their limit on the skidpan and circuit, with competitions involving slaloms bringing out the usual competitive instincts of the boys and girls competing.

The Swift Sport Turbo has plenty of punch from its little 1.4-litre powerplant, the gearshift in the manual is light and positive and the auto is less boring to sit behind than you might think.

Road grip is impressive and even on water-soaked concrete the Swift hung on beautifully and it was simple to correct understeer and oversteer with the throttle and steering.

A track car? Well, with similar cars, yes, why not? After all there have been sporty Suzuki Swifts in Australia on and off in the past.

At this stage we haven’t driven a Swift Turbo on public roads, but will do so as soon as time and cars become available.

Though we know that keen drivers are more interested in performance than safety, we were amazed to find that the sub $30K Suzuki has the sort of safety features often only found in cars costing three times as much.

They include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Dual Sensor Brake Support (DSBS) that’s detects obstacles such as pedestrians and cars directly ahead and brakes if it sense the driver hasn’t done so.

There’s also Lane Departure Warning and LaneWeaving Alert (LDW). The latter takes note of the driving pattern and issues a warning if the vehicle appears to be wandering such as through mobile phone usage or driver drowsiness.

It even has automatically dimming headlights.

Huge fun factor is the biggest feature of the new Swift Sport Turbo. It’s likely to appeal to a surprising number of buyers: keen youngsters, dads and mums who love driving and can afford a second car and – probably most surprisingly of all – to parents who want to get their kids into one of the safest cars of all for the price.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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