Suzuki ready for centennial celebrations

July 28th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki Centennial 3

It seems that 1909 was a busy year for automotive start-up companies with both Audi and Bugatti planning their centenary celebrations this year and so is Japanese carmaker Suzuki.

The history of Suzuki’s first 100 years is an interesting rags-to-riches story, beginning with a young loom-maker from Hamamatsu, Japan, named Michio Suzuki wanting to tackle the problem of producing fabrics with both vertical and horizontal stripes. From this distant starting point sprung the Suzuki Loom Company, which after some time began producing small engines to adapt bicycles into motorised vehicles in 1952.

A few years after that, Suzuki’s first automobile, the Suzilight, hit the market with a 360cc two-stroke engine and some clever innovations like front-wheel-drive and four-wheel independent suspension. By 1989, Suzuki was producing over 10 million cars per year through its own factories and global partnerships.

Today, Suzuki is a recognized global leader in small cars and motorcycles, with its SX4 and Swift being highly competitive vehicles in their segments.

According to Suzuki, the future will bring environmentally friendly technology, including the debuts of stop/start and variable valve timing at the next Geneva Motor Show. Looking further into the future hydrogen fuel cell technology is also on the way.

Suzuki Swift leads overall sales in NZ market

June 10th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki Swift

The Suzuki Swift has become the first small supermini car to lead the New Zealand new car market in decades. Suzuki’s most popular model was the top-selling new car in May and posted a 13.4 per cent gain over the previous month, according to Motor Industry Association statistics. While the Swift hatchback has been the best selling supermini in New Zealand since its introduction in 2005, the May sales marked the first time the model had led overall sales.

Not only was May the best sales month for the Swift so far this year, but the result was 51 per cent up on the model’s average monthly sales for the first quarter of 2009. Suzuki registered a total of 253 new Swifts in May; while the second placed Toyota Corolla’s volume for the month was 22.5 per cent lower. For the first five months of this year the Swift remains the top selling supermini, and lays third overall behind the Corolla and Holden Commodore.

“This is the first time a Suzuki passenger car model has led the New Zealand car market,” said Tom Peck, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand Ltd. It comes as a welcome present as Suzuki celebrates its 100th year birthday, a milestone in the motor industry,” he said. “The on-going success of the model is further confirmation that the Suzuki nameplate is a solid contender in the local car market.”

The brand sold 352 passenger vehicles in May for an 8.8 per cent share of the total new car market and was the fourth best make overall, behind Toyota, Ford and Hyundai.

With its appealing styling and high level of dynamics, the Swift has been a consistent showroom winner with New Zealand car buyers.  “The Swift continues to expand its popularity not only in New Zealand but internationally,” said Tom Peck. “At the same time our other models are also doing well.”

In May the Suzuki Grand Vitara lifestyle Sport Utility Vehicle had its best sales month to date this year, with sales up 65 per cent on April. Demand for the versatile Suzuki SX4 also rose, with volume for May increasing by 13 per cent over the previous month. Mr Peck said sales of the compact, efficient Suzuki models reflected the growing awareness and popularity of smaller vehicles.

Seven versions of the European inspired Swift are available in New Zealand, with prices starting from $18,500. The car is available with 1.5-litre or 1.6-litre engines and the choice of manual or automatic transmission.

Suzuki NZ releases high-spec Swift 1

May 5th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki Swift1

Suzuki NZ has just released a new plusher version of its popular Swift model. For a limited period, Suzuki New Zealand is offering a specially equipped Swift five door hatchback model as part of the celebrations of 100 years of Suzuki.

Designated Swift1, the new variant adds more luxury and convenience items plus unique alloy wheels and a distinctive grille. Sitting between the entry level Swift XE and the high spec Ltd Swift; the specially equipped Swift1 is priced at $21,800 in manual transmission form and $23,300 with automatic transmission.  These prices include on-road costs.

Swift1 is easily distinguished by a special edition grille with two horizontal chrome bars and eight-spoke 17″ aluminum alloy wheels. Low profile tyres enhance the car’s handling and road holding.

New to this latest version of Suzuki’s best-selling car are turn indicators integrated into the electrically operated door mirrors. A new colour – Maroon Brown – is offered in this special edition model. Swift1 drivers also receive Suzuki’s keyless door entry and engine starting. Alcantarar suede finish upholstery is standard, along with a leather-bound steering wheel with remote steering wheel controls for the Swift’s six-speaker radio/CD and MP3 audio system.

The specification also includes climate air conditioning, front fog lights, anti-lock brakes with EBD and brake assist, and a fuel consumption/outside air temperature display. Dual front, airbags with pretension front seatbelts are part of the car’s safety package.

Last year Swift sales in New Zealand reached record levels, scooping almost one quarter of the light car class. In the process, the car finished ahead of its rivals, and was the third best selling new car.

“It’s entirely appropriate we should launch this up-market Swift which is still the one to buy, according to market demand,” said Tom Peck, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand Ltd. “As one of the most significant cars ever conceived by the company, it is also a fine recognition of Suzuki’s celebration of 100 years since the company was formed.”

“Swift is the first product of Suzuki’s radical innovation programme and the car’s style and substance has given it universal appeal,” said Tom Peck.

“Like the other versions, the new Swift1 captures the essence of Suzuki’s philosophy of providing quality products at outstanding value for money.”With its low emissions and frugal fuel consumption, the Swift is totally in tune with our times.”

The car’s variable valve engine emits a modest CO2 emissions level of 150 grams/km in manual form and averages 6.3 litres/100 km (44.8 miles per gallon) in the combined fuel cycle.

Suzuki Alto – 30 years of cheap motoring

March 24th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Suzuki Alto old

The introduction of the new Alto city car this year marks three decades since Suzuki Motor Corporation first launched the name back in 1979. A car spearheaded by current Chairman and CEO Osamu Suzuki, the model was designed for the Kei Class in Japan to provide motorists with low cost and enjoyable motoring, an ethos which has remained a core feature of the car’s DNA over three decades.

Following the introduction of the first 500cc Alto in Japan, the car proved to be a success, surpassing the initial sales target of 5,000 units per month by over 300 per cent in just four weeks of the model hitting dealer showrooms. The success of the Alto was part of a massive growth in the blooming compact car segment as other manufacturers set out to take advantage of the phenomenon, but the Suzuki remained the top selling mini-vehicle for 14 years.

The Alto was first exported to Europe in 1981, and has recorded sales of 250,000 units during its 30 year presence. Mirroring the success which the car achieved in Japan, the Alto became the most popular A-segment purchase in a number of European countries. The Alto is now in its seventh generation and offers low emissions and strong fuel economy two factors that contribute to its present popularity.

Scorpion Prodigy offers reckless performance

February 26th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Scorpion Prodigy fq

If you have ever wanted the speed of a sport bike with the stability of a car and you have the bottle for sub 3.3-second 0-100kph launches and 1.5 g’s on the bends, we’ve got the rig for you.

Called the Scorpion Prodigy, it’s powered by the buyers choice of one of three Suzuki bike engines. The first is a 600cc beast capable of the figures above. Then there’s the 1000 cc variant which will move the Prodigy even quicker . If that’s still not terrifying enough for you, Scorpion will plop a hefty 1300 cc into the trike. That last set up boasts 185 horsepower with a 2.5 hp/lb power to weight ratio. All for under $50,000 ($98,000 NZ). The 600cc Prodigy starts at $39,900 ($70,200 NZ).

Click here to check out the Scorpion website.

Suzuki Grand Vitara Ltd 2008 Review

January 1st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham


It was in the paper recently that Australians are being encouraged to eat camel meat. From an initial 6000 that originally trekked the north-south route through Australia in the late 19th Century, and helped build Australia’s great railway, the Ghan, the population has swelled to between 700,000 and a million — those camels sure like getting it ‘on’ in the stinking hot weather more than us humans do.

And to a chorus of ‘speak for yourself’ I proffer my next astute observation: if each camel is holding an average of 100 litres of water in its body (they’re known to drink up to 70 litres at a time and that’s all stored in the blood, not the hump as some people believe), that’s 100,000,000 litres of water walking around in belching, flatulating quadrupeds. That sounds like a huge amount, and it is — it’s 40 Olympic swimming pools’ worth — a small lake!

Why am I telling you this? Suzuki flew a batch of us journalists out to Ayers Rock and the surrounds to sample the new Grand Vitara in something a bit more challenging than the traffic-calming chicanes of Grey Lynn. It was a choking haze of red dust kicked up by our convoy of Grand Vitaras that concealed frequent salvos of cunningly place ruts in the arid landscape. Add into the mix a landscape that doesn’t vary significantly for several hundred kilometres, spattered with termite mounds and prickly Spinifex grass, it is anything but lush, the vegetation grasping for life and sipping through a very narrow straw.

Life’s tough in the outback, and therefore a good metaphor for the Grand Vitara. It is undoubtedly better than the previous model — especially the longer wheelbase version that’s our current test car. I drove all the models on some moderately challenging terrain. Only once did it fail to get up a slope, and that was on road tyres with an angle that made me think twice about attempting it.

But it’s not the ruggedness that will appeal to most Grand Vitara purchasers — it’s the comfort levels, fuel economy and safety. Fortunately these have also been improved. The new Vitara drives more like a car — not quite like a car, but not far off. This means it’s more stable through the corners, and the short wheelbase version doesn’t pitch so much on bumpy roads. The five-door long wheelbase version (like our test car), is the one to go for, though, with the 2.4-litre VVT four-cylinder engine. It’s gruntier than the previous car, shovelling 122kW of power through all four wheels. This new engine is mated to the four-speed automatic gearbox from the previous model. The engine range is said by Suzuki to be quieter than before, with the V6 showing a 2dB reduction in volume. Suzuki will tell you it’s significant, but 3dB is considered the threshold at which people notice a change in volume, so it’s probably only significant over very long journeys where noise fatigue would become an issue.

Electronic stability control is standard, as is six airbags, ventilated disk brakes all round, and cruise control. A useful function (which also makes the Grand Vitara a proper four-wheel drive) is the locking differential and low-range ratios so you can really get axle deep in the sand. The V6 Ltd top-of-the-range model also features a hill descent mode, which we put to good use on a steep off-road track in the outback.

Passengers are accommodated nicely. There’s enough room for five people without too much problem, and a substantial boot which also features a marsupial-like hidden pouch in the floor so that you can put items like a laptop out of view.

This 2.4-litre Ltd version gets leather trim, a sunroof, mirror-mounted side indicators and a seven-speaker (plus subwoofer) sound system. In the hot desert sun, you’ll welcome the climate control air conditioning. The information display has been moved from the centre console into the instrument cluster – making it easier to keep an eye on instantaneous fuel consumption, average fuel consumption, driving range, temperature, trip meters or average speed – and freeing up some room in the dash for a centre speaker

Where the long wheelbase model excels is over the rutted roads. At one point, on an unrestricted road, we were going one hundred. Miles per hour. The Grand Vitara felt almost like Luke Skywalker’s Land Speeder in the arid Tatooine gliding unflustered over the corrugations. Fortunately there were no Womp Rats to worry about (Star Wars in-joke), and we just had to pay attention for kangaroos, and the aforementioned camels.

Except that in my whole time there, and despite taking a helicopter trip and keeping my eyes metaphorically peeled, I did not see one camel. I consoled myself with the fact that the Grand Vitara is an enjoyable drive, even on less-than-ideal roads, and that despite my disappointment, I wouldn’t get the hump.

Suzuki pretty much initiated the compact SUV segment, but it now has to contend with the likes of Honda’s CR-V and Toyota’s RAV4, both of which are excellent competitors. With a slightly better price and a good specification, Suzuki is proving it offers the value for money required in today’s market.

Click through to the next page to read the full specifications of the Suzuki Grand Vitara range.

Price: $40,400 (2.4-litre Ltd)

What we like

  • At this price, it’s great value
  • It’s better than the previous model

What we don’t like

  • Still a bit of body roll
COMFORT 2.0 JLX 2.4 JLX 2.4 Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Power steering O
Electric windows & exterior mirrors O
Remote central door locking O
Keyless entry, keyless start & security system O O O
4 speaker CD audio system O O O
7 speaker 6 CD audio system with subwoofer O O
Illuminated steering wheel audio controls O
Climate control air conditioning O
Electronic slide/tilt sunroof O O
Cruise control O O O O
INSTRUMENT PANEL 2.0 JLX 2.4 JLX 2.4 Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Tachometer O
Digital clock & outside temperature gauge O
Fuel consumption display O
Lights-off reminder O
Door ajar & low fuel warning lights O
Digital tripmeter O
INTERIOR 2.0 JLX 2.4 JLX 2.4 Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Height adjustable steering wheel Urethane Urethane Leather Leather Urethane
Interior garnishes Silver Silver Silver/wood Silver/wood Silver
Map lights O
3 position cabin light with fade O
Sunvisor with vanity mirror & ticketholder x 2 O
Sunvisor slide-out shade extension O
Seat lifter – driver’s side O
Reclining & sliding front seats O
Detachable head restraints – front & rear O
Seat material Fabric Fabric Leather Leather Fabric
Reclining & tumble-folding rear seats 60/40 O
Assist grips / coat hooks O
Driver’s footrest O
Remote fuel lid opener O
Cupholders 6
Overhead console with sunglasses storage O O O
Lockable glovebox O
Console box with storage / storage pockets O
Underfloor storage compartment & toolbox O
Rear luggage cover O
EXTERIOR 2.0 JLX 2.4 JLX 2.4 Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Green tinted glass O
Multi-reflect plus halogen projector  headlamps O O O O
Self-levelling high density discharge headlamps O
Auto-activating headlamps with washers O
Front fog lamps O O
Integrated door mirror turn signals O O O
2 speed & variable intermittent wipers/washer O
Rear window defogger/wiper/washer O
Roof rails O
Spare tyre cover Full cover
Wheels Alloy
SAFETY 2.0 JLX 2.4 JLX 2.4 Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
4 mode 4WD O
SRS front dual airbags O
SRS side and curtain airbags O
ABS with EBD and brake assist O
Electronic stability programme (ESP®) O
Hill hold and descent control O
Decoupling brake pedal mechanism O
Collapsible steering column O
Front seatbelts – ELR with pre-tensioners & force limiters O
Rear seatbelts – 3-point ELR x 3 O
Height adjustable front seat belt anchors O
ISO FIX child seat anchorage x 2 O
Child seat tether anchorages x 2 O
Engine immobiliser O
Side impact beams O
High-mounted stop lamp O
DIMENSIONS 2.0 Manual 2.0 Auto 2.4 JLX / Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Overall length mm 4500
Overall width mm 1810
Overall height mm 1695
Wheelbase mm 2640
Tread Front mm 1540
Track Rear mm 1570
Ground Clearance mm 200
Minimum turning radius m 5.5
Approach angle deg 29
Ramp breakover angle deg 19
Departure angle deg 27
WEIGHTS 2.0 Manual 2.0 Auto 2.4 JLX / Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Curb weight kg 1575 1590 1620/1670 1753 1660
Gross vehicle weight kg 2100 2170
Braked towing capacity kg 1850 1700 2000
ENGINE 2.0 Manual 2.0 Auto 2.4 JLX / Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Type J20A J24B N32A F9Q
Cylinders 4 6 4
Number of valves 16 16, WT 24, WT 8
Displacement cc 1995 2393 3195 1870
Bore x stroke mm 84.0 x 90.0 92.0 x 90.0 89.0 x 85.6 80.0 x 93.0
Compression ratio 10.5 : 1 10.0 : 1 17.0 :1
Maximum Output (EEC net) Kw/rpm 103/6000 122/6000 165/6200 95/3750
Maximum Torque (EEC net) Nm/rpm 183/4000 225/4000 284/3500 300/2000
Fuel distribution Multi-point injection Direct injection
Fuel consumption – Combined (L/100km) 8.8 9.1 9.9 10.5 7.0
CO2 emissions (g/km) 199 210 234 249 185
TRANSMISSION 2.0 Manual 2.0 Auto 2.4 JLX / Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Drive system 4-mode full time 4×4
Type 5-speed 4-stage electronic 5-stage electronic 5-speed
Gear ratio 1st 4.545 2.826 2.826 3.520 3.854
2nd 2.354 1.493 1.493 2.043 2.135
3rd 1.695 1.000 1.000 1.401 1.411
4th 1.242 0.688 0.688 1.000 1.000
5th 1.000 0.717 0.784
Reverse 4.431 2.703 2.703 3.224 3.854
Final gear ratio Diff 4.100 5.125 5.125 3.583 4.300
Transfer gear ratio High 1.000
Low 1.970
CHASSIS 2.0 Manual 2.0 Auto 2.4 JLX / Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Power assisted Steering Rack & pinion
Suspension Front MacPherson strut & coil spring
Rear Independent multi-link & coil spring
Brakes Front Ventilated disc
Rear Ventilated disc
Tyres 225/70R16 225/65R17 225/60R18 (Ltd) 225/60R18 225/65R17
CAPACITY 2.0 Manual 2.0 Auto 2.4 JLX / Ltd 3.2 V6 Ltd 1.9  DDiS
Seating 5
Fuel tank Litres 66
Fuel type 95 RON 91 RON Diesel
Luggage capacity Max Volume (litres) 1386
Seats raised (VDA method) (litres) 398
Seats tumbled (VDA method) (litres)

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Suzuki Jimny Sierra 2008 — Road Test

November 3rd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


‘No frills’ is an expression that gets thrown around a lot, usually with negative connotations. Being no frills isn’t always a bad thing. No frills can mean saving money, or getting more for your budget. At the supermarket my mother would often explain to me that products labelled ‘Basic’ and ‘Home Brand’ are the same goods just without the fancy packaging. I always struggled to understand this theory. Exactly how could something look the same and taste the same but be so much cheaper simply due to low cost packaging. After driving the Suzuki Jimny Sierra, it’s a concept I’ve finally come to grips with.

The Jimny is priced at just $20,500 straight off the shelf, there are few new compact 4wds around for this price and it is naturally one of the vehicle’s most attractive characteristics. Suzuki has shown with the Swift that it’s come to play in the low cost car bracket. Although it’s unlikely the Jimny will ever mirror the Swift’s success, it still has some moves all its own.

Aesthetically the Jimny has plenty of character; the exterior styling is modern but suitably square, purposeful and strong. Walk around the front of the vehicle, look it in the eye and it glares back. Wrapped up in bright colour-coded paintwork it has a contrasting gloss finish on the panels but a matt finish on the plastics. Large wing-mirrors and chunky bumpers confirm the look of a large off-roader that was left in the clothes dryer too long and came out ultra-compact. Despite the Jimny’s diminutive size, visibility is very good thanks to generous glass and a good seating position, the only exception is a wide B-pillar which can create a blind spot with poor mirror positioning.

Open up the packet and the Jimny’s interior is basic but functional and seamlessly maintains the themes of a tough 4WD vehicle. The plastics look and feel hardy, and the instrument cluster is well-positioned and easy to read. The seats are comfortable but could offer more support especially if you’re planning on bumping around off-road. There is no escaping the Jimny’s size: it is a very small vehicle, and not built with big lads (like myself) in mind. The driver’s seat only travelled back far enough to be comfortable on the last click, and space between my right shoulder and the window was minimal. The Jimny is only 1.6m in width so with 2 big blokes in the vehicle, shoulders are nearly touching and knees can knock the gearstick. The back seat is small but can fit two adults, though anything more than a short trip may become cramped. Behind the rear seats there is very little storage space and anything more than a couple of grocery bags would require the rear seats to be folded down.

Turn the key and the Jimny springs into life, a 1.3-litre engine may sound lightweight but so is everything else, and with a kerb weight of only 1060kg, 63kW of power is enough¦just. You’re not going to be challenging anyone to a drag from the lights, but the Jimny has some pep when worked hard through the gears. The Jimny is thrifty with a combined economy figure of 7.3L/100km. The gearbox makes a satisfying click and the clutch engages where expected, making the Jimny a very easy vehicle to drive. The handling is a definite improvement over older models, but can still provide a lively experience on bendy roads. The Jimny has a  narrow width high ride height combination that can reflect in its driving habits. However, its honest steering response and body movement telegraph any instability early and the driver can make adjustment accordingly.

Off-road is where the Jimny proves it’s no shopping trolley, boasting a 4wd capability that Suzuki admits excels that of its flagship Grand Vitara model. On the label Suzuki calls it ‘Drive Action 4×4 with Air Locking Hub’ this means the Jimny can change between 4WD and 2WD with a switch in the cabin, and this can be done while moving. This combined with a ladder-type chassis and a dual ratio transfer case as standard puts the Jimny on a higher shelf than many competitors who lack a low range.

During my time with the Jimny I happened to drive with my mother, she took a shine to the vehicle immediately. I explained to her a few of the features I thought the Jimny was missing, like rear stereo speakers and a boot blind. She replied simply that she didn’t need all that stuff, and it suddenly made sense. The Jimny doesn’t need all the bells and whistles to impress, it’s unashamedly no frills and priced accordingly, that is its strength. So if you’re on a budget, you want to be a bit different and you occasionally leave the tarmac behind, then grab the Jimny and proceed to the checkout immediately.

Click through to the next page to read the full specifications of the Suzuki Jimny Sierra.

Price: from $20,500

Things we like

  • A very affordable new car
  • Off road maestro
  • Fun exterior styling

Things we don’t like

  • Isn’t one size fits all
  • No curtain airbag and paper thin doors give a feeling of vulnerability for occupants
  • Could use a touch more pace
Overall length mm 3645
Overall width mm 1600
Overall height mm 1670 1705
Wheelbase mm 2250
Track Front mm 1355
Track Rear mm 1365
Ground Clearance mm 190
Minimum turning radius m 4.9
Curb weight kg Manual 1060 Manual 1060 / Auto 1075
Gross vehicle weight kg 1420
Type M13A with VVT
Cylinders 4
Number of valves 16
Displacement cc 1328
Bore X stroke 78.0 x 69.5
Compression ratio 9.5 : 1
Maximum Output (EEC net) Kw/rpm 63/6000
Maximum Torque (EEC net) Nm/rpm 110/4100
Fuel distribution Multi-point injection
Fuel Consumption – Urban Litres/100km 9.1 Manual 9.1 / Auto 9.6
Fuel Consumption – Extra- Urban Litres/100km 6.1 Manual 6.1 / Auto 6.4
Fuel Consumption – Combined Litres/100km 7.2 Manual 7.2 / Auto 7.6
Part time drive action 4 x 4 High/low ratio transfer gears
Final drive ratio 4300 Manual 4300 / Auto 4090
Transfer gear ratio High Manual 1000 Manual 1000 / Auto 1320
Low Manual 2002 Manual 2002 / Auto 2643
Type Manual 5 – speed
Automatic N/A 4 – speed
Steering Ball and recirculating
Suspension Front 3-link with coil spring rigid axle
Rear 3-link with coil spring rigid axle
Brakes Front Ventilated disc
Rear Drum, leading & trailing
Tyres 205/70R15
Seating 4
Fuel tank (unleaded 95) Litres 40

Words Adam Mamo, photography Darren Cottingham

Suzuki Swift Sport WR1 Supercharged 2008 — Road Test

October 30th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


The Suzuki Swift Sport is one of our favourite cars read the review here. It has the right proportion of power, handling and looks, and a sweet five-speed manual gearbox that puts you in control. So how can you improve it? If you changed any one of the ingredients, it might risk spoiling it — like putting too much salt in the stew.

The recipe for change in this case addresses the car holistically: engine modifications to give the Swift more poke, suspension and brake modifications to cope with the extra power, and a body kit to tell the world you’re packing more than just the standard 1.6-litre four-banger.

The Swift Sport has always been a car that’s possible to bling out, with go-faster stripes and bigger alloys; this takes it to a new, official level with a factory warranty.

The extra urge is made available by a discrete supercharger that sits at the back of the engine. You’d barely notice the modifications if it wasn’t for the large Supercharged sticker across the rocker cover and the chrome GReddy pipe that leads to a bright yellow air filter.

The supercharger sucks in the air through an Airinx air cleaner that uses two layers of three-dimensional urethane foam. The whole engine can be tuned to perfection with the GReddy ECU. Power at the flywheel is up from 111PS to 145PS at 6800rpm. Torque is up from 138Nm at 5000rpm to 171Nm at around 3800rpm. The power is all usable, making the Swift more responsive down low. It doesn’t turn it into a screaming, torque-steering ride, though. It’s delivered in an unfussy way, with a helping of supercharger whine.

While we didn’t test a 0-100kph time, my seat-of-the-pants meter reckons it’s in the late seven-second bracket, down about a second from the standard car. To get the most poke out of the car you need to turn ESP (electronic stability control) off because it robs the WR1 of a lot of power. This doesn’t turn it into the tyre-smoking maniac that you’d expect, though.

You may have all this extra power, but it hasn’t affected fuel economy because the Power Extreme II twin exhaust system has less back pressure and improves fuel economy. The Swift Sport has an official figure of 7.5l/100km, whereas this supercharged WR1 has a quoted fuel consumption of 7.2l/100km. It’s also not overly noisy with the modified exhaust. You certainly hear the supercharger while accelerating, but while cruising it’s only marginally louder than a standard Swift Sport.

Brakes can be GReddy four- or six-pot units with aluminium callipers and can be specified as full competition units, but weren’t fitted to our test car. Springs are Tein, and the suspension has 32-level damping, monotube structure and adjustable pillow ball upper mounts. An optional in-car control unit is available separately.

The rest of the Swift Sport is as standard. There’s a perfectly adequate (but not stellar) stereo with WMA/MP3/CD.

If all the extra power is surplus to your abilities, turn the ESP back on. There’s also ABS, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist for the emergency stops. But it’d be a rare occasion you’d need them, because the Swift’s handling is so superb you would have to enter a corner at a fairly ludicrous speed.

Modifications don’t come cheap for the Swift, and you can expect to part with around $40,000, depending on what specification you choose. This makes it a valid alternative to a Mini Cooper or Cooper S read the review here. But it doesn’t have the power of a Mini Cooper S, something I was a little disappointed in. Sure, you get the supercharger whine, it’s definitely quicker and it handles superbly, but I expected it to be much more¦umm¦swift in a straight line. Perhaps to maintain the balance of the recipe it doesn’t need to be.

The Swift Sport as a standard car is brilliant; the WR1 just gives it that little bit extra.

Click through to the next page to read the full specifications of the Suzuki Swift Sport WR1.

Price: Around NZ$40,000

What we like

  • More perky
  • Supercharger whine
  • Excellent stopping power
  • Great handling
  • Better fuel economy

What we don’t like

  • Can start to get expensive with all the options
  • Optional livery won’t be everyone’s cup-o’-chai
  • Limited internal storage

Suzuki Swift Sport WR1 Supercharged (2008) – Specifications

Overall length mm 3765
Overall width mm 1690
Overall height mm 1510
Wheelbase mm 2390
Tread Front mm 1460
Tread Rear mm 1470
Ground Clearance mm 140
Minimum turning radius m 5.2
Curb weight kg 1090
Gross vehicle weight kg 1500
Type M16A
Cylinders 4
Number of valves 16
Displacement cc 1586
Bore X stroke 78.0 x 83.0
Compression ratio 11.0 : 1
Maximum Output (EEC net) PS/rpm 145/6800
Maximum Torque (EEC net) Nm/rpm 171/3800
Fuel distribution Multi-point injection
Fuel type 98 Octane
Fuel consumption (L/100km) Urban – 9.3
Extra urban – 6.4
Combined – 7.2
CO2 emissions (g/km) 179
Type 5-speed Manual – close ratio all synchromesh
Gear ratio 1st 3.250
2nd 1.904
3rd 1.407
4th 1.064
5th 0.885
Reverse 3.250
Final gear ratio 4.388
Power assisted Steering Rack and pinion
Suspension Front Custom
Rear Custom
Brakes Front Custom
Rear Custom
Tyres 195/50R16
Seating 5
Fuel tank (unleaded 91) Litres 43
Capacity Rear seatbacks raised 213
Rear seatbacks folded 562

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

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