For such a small car, the Suzuki Swift GTi has played a surprisingly large role in the Australian performance car landscape.
Sadly, a large part of that role was a never-ending stream of over-the-top show cars in the mid-1990s, with modifications as daft as wheelie bars, parachutes and intercoolers that weren’t hooked up to anything.
It gained plenty of serious performance cred too, however, thanks to the successful one-make racing series, while it was also a handy rally car, campaigned by none other than Monster Tajima of Pikes Peak fame.
It might not have been the most sophisticated handler, but with a screaming 75kW 1.3-litre four and very light kerb weight it had the potential to be a giant killer.
The latest Swift Sport was never quite as popular, though it was a fun and engaging, if a little pricey, warm hatch. With the Swift Sport having recently ended production, it’s time for Suzuki to up the ante once again by reviving a famous nameplate and giving the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST and VW Polo GTI some proper competition.
Here’s how we’d do it
Suzuki is doing great work at the moment in building light cars; it’s Vitara light SUV weighs just 1075kg in its basic form. This trend is set to continue with the new Swift, with base models expected to weigh just 900kg, ensuring a Swift GTi should easily break the 1000kg barrier. Even at 970kg, it’ll undercut the Fiesta ST by a hefty 200kg.
The Swift Sport was the last naturally-aspirated sporty hatch available, however the new GTi would have to embrace progress and switch to a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine. With the Swift Sport expected to pack 103kW/220Nm, the GTi needs a boost to 125kW/250Nm.
While that will make it the least powerful of the baby hot hatch brigade, its lack of mass will ensure its acceleration is more than competitive, with 0-100km/h taking 6.8sec for the six-speed manual and 6.9sec for the six-speed auto.
Suzuki is a small company without the R&D budgets of larger manufacturers so we’re keeping things simple and it’ll be all the better for it. Just a basic stiffer and lower suspension setup with particular attention paid to having good tyres and strong brakes.
PRICE IS RIGHT
One area the current Swift Sport struggled was its price tag. At $24,490, it wasn’t that much cheaper than much faster opposition. If Suzuki can drop that by $1000 for the new Sport, the GTi could land at $26,990 (auto $28,990), making it a real contender at Bang For Your Bucks.