Month: July 2019

New Suzuki Swift Sport driven in South Africa

Suzuki Swift Sport Champion Yellow

Suzuki Swift Launch Review

We drive the new Suzuki Swift Sport in South Africa

Picture this, a 17 year old man looming to purchase his first vehicle. After browsing many websites, he suddenly follows a friend’s recommendation and finds himself engrossed by none other than the Suzuki Swift Sport. Generation one, engine code M16A, color: Champion Yellow. “ This was the one” he thought.  Unfortunately for this young man, this was where the fairytale ends, as the Champion Yellow Swift Sport was out of budget. However, it’s not all doom and gloom as the young man proceeded to stay in the Suzuki family and purchase the Suzuki Swift 1.3GL – great car, great engine. 

This is where my love for the Swift began. 

Since then, I’ve gone on to own the 2nd generation Suzuki Swift Sport which still sits in my garage today. It’s safe to say I’m extremely familiar with these vehicles and pretty fond of them as well. No sooner had we learned that the car was coming to SA, had I already called dibs on the launch. 

Suzuki Swift Sport Exhaust

 

The day ahead looked to be an exciting one. We wouldn’t be driving the new Swift Sport on the road, but rather on the track, skidpan gymkhana style at Red Star Raceway.

As excited as I was, feelings of apprehension crept in as I had many many questions that needed answering. I really wanted the new Suzuki Swift Sport to be successful, yet it’s undergone big changes. The focus of this being the power plant, the 1.6 NA engine that powered both previous-generation models has been replaced in favor of Suzuki’s new Booster engine – a 1 400cc turbocharged motor which produces 103 kW and 230 Nm of torque and features direct injection. 

Whilst this isn’t a massive increase from the 100 kW and 160 Nm provided by the much-loved 1.6-litre naturally aspirated Swift- it will inherently change the characteristics of the vehicle. With the new boosted engine, power and more specifically torque now come in much earlier in the rev range. This means exploring the full potential of the engine no longer requires you to ring its neck, or in other words, rev the engine right to the redline to get the power you need – unlike the previous generation Suzuki Swift Sport. 

In fairness, this is what I and many others loved about the previous generation, it’s free-revving nature and high rpm limit made for a fun, engaging and natural drive – even if you did need to work hard for it. 

Suzuki Swift Sport rear

So, would the new Swift Sport carry on the legacy and provide a rich driving experience? Or has it been dampened due to the rising trend in turbocharging technology? 

After just a few short laps on the handling circuit at Red Star Raceway, I found the answers I was looking for. 

The new Swift Sport does lose its high rpm limit, but this doesn’t seem to affect the free revving nature of the engine. It becomes a much easier car to drive quickly as power delivery arrives much lower in the RPM range, and the 6-speed short shift gearbox aids the experience.  While it’s easy to notice that the Swift is now turbocharged, it doesn’t feel like it has swung too far in the other direction and this really shows with the performance of the car and on paper.

Suzuki Swift Sport Front

Suzuki could have opted for more power if they had wished, but they didn’t. 103kW is only 3 percent more power than the previous model, and if you think that seems a little underwhelming then you’re missing the point. The key with this vehicle isn’t power, but power-to-weight. The new Swift Sport has shed 90 kg, coming in at a total weight of 970 kg. This weight saving along with a slight increase in power and low-end torque provides a noticeable difference in performance.  

If we compared the power-to-weight ratio with a much more expensive hot hatch like the Volkswagen Polo GTI, we find that per tonne of weight, the GTI produces 115 kW & 250 Nm. The Swift Sport in comparison offers up 106kW/237Nm per tonne – here we can see how the low weight of the Swift plays a big roll in its performance.

Suzuki Swift Sport Blue

The nature of the swift means that total power output isn’t the holy grail and aiding the driving experience is the Suzuki’s chassis. It’s 40 mm wider and 15 mm lower than before, with Suzuki also retaining a similar suspension setup to that of the previous generation – if it aint broke, don’t fix it!  The result? A really sharp and nimble front end and an engaging experience with oversteer on tap if desired (and if you know what you are doing) you can really throw this car around and have plenty of fun. The 6-speed manual gearbox features a further 10% reduction in shift distance, I’ve always loved this box and the new one is just as pleasing.  The blend of more torque with reduced weight allows the Swift to retain most of the driving experience that puts a smile on our face.  

In terms of technology and safety, the latest swift sport includes a nice 4.5 inch digital display with the ability of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a rear view camera for reversing. 6 airbags are standard, and an additional 135 liters of luggage space is now available in the new model. There is now an automatic gearbox available in the form of a torque converter. The only time I spent in this vehicle was on the Gymkhana, so I can’t really give a driving opinion yet.

Suzuki Swift Sport Red

Final thoughts

Suzuki’s new Swift Sport is not as raw from a driving perspective as the previous generation but it was never going to be. If cars like this were solely journalist/enthusiast-focused, they wouldn’t be well fitted for the modern consumer at all. Suzuki seems to have the balance right – they have incorporated new technology which aids safety, fuel economy and performance but they have also done well at retaining the soul and character of the Suzuki Swift Sport. It’s sad to see the 1.6 NA motor go, but times change and to sell cars manufacturers need to adapt to the times. It’s an evolution and a very good one at that.

Suzuki Swift Sport Pricing in South Africa

The new Suzuki Swift Sport 6 speed manual will cost you R315,000.00 including VAT, with the automatic variant coming in at R335,000.00. This price includes a 5- year/ 200 000 km promotional warranty and a 4 -year / 60 000 km service plan. 

 

Lamborghini Huracán Performante Driven Review

We Drive the Lamborghini Huracán Performante

Lamborghini Huracán Performante driven on some of Cape Town’s finest roads.

It’s early evening in 1996, and all the homework and chores are done. It’s the time that you’ve been waiting for all week. A time where zero disturbances can happen, as its 19:30 and the news is finished. It’s your time, it’s Viper time. If you’re an 80’s/90’s kid, you’ll remember that Viper was a show that all young petrol heads loved. It was a show about a cool guy, with a cool car doing cool things. Simple. That show alone was enough to make your week. It was a show that was discussed amongst school friends at break and in-between classes, it was a show that will live on forever in a young petrol heads mind.

Now you may be asking yourself, what on earth does a show from 90’s have to do with the vehicle in question? It’s simple, noise. You see, the V10 motor is something of an icon that we didn’t know we needed, but one that we simply couldn’t and can’t live without. If you are an F1 fan, I can bet you a decent amount of money that the fond memories that you have of the sport, is of the V10 era and the noise from those shrieking and wailing V10s. The sound that STILL makes the hairs on your forearms and neck, stand at attention.

This now brings us to the unadulterated, flame throwing, raving mad vehicle that is the Lamborghini Huracan Performanté. Our day started like any other media launch, but with a more intimate, “family” feel that the LMS group have honed and perfected. After the media presentation was done, we sat with the group MD, exchanged life stories over fillet steak that tasted like Maria flew in from Italy to make it. With little Italy in our mouths, paired with delicious red wine, we all chomped at the bit to drive the Italian we had REALLY came to see, the beast that awaited us in the early hours of the next morning.

It’s 6am and we’re bright eyed and bushy tailed. I’m given the keys to a Rosso Mars Performanté and my driving partner and I leave Lamborghini Cape Town to brave the early morning traffic in a 5.2L, 470kW, 600Nm rocket. To say that people gawked, stopped and huddled at intersections would be an understatement. The cameras that snapped away at the car could have rivalled the “Bee Hive” at a Beyoncé concert. Very soon, we were out of the hustle and bustle of the city and as the sun rose, so did my confidence and for the first time, I pulled on the left lever on the steering wheel, not twice, but three times and buried my foot. What happened next is a sound and feeling that I’m all too familiar with. The noise from the V10 motor engulfed the cabin and trees next to the road appeared to have had the “running water on paint treatment” and for the first time in a long time, I had tunnel vision, albeit for a short period of time. Now, I didn’t tell my driving partner this, but as the engine noise swelled and the speed rose to “arrest me and lock away the key territory”, I had to back off and just take the moment in, as well as clear my foggy glasses as I had a serious case of the feels and tears filled my “very manly” eyes. You see, this isn’t the first time that this engine configuration did this to me. From the first time I drove a V10 in 2005, even though it was in a sedan from Germany, the noise is something that I have cherished and whenever I drive a V10, it has the uncanny ability to unearth these feelings of being a child and driving cars that I could only dream of.

Our tea break loomed and we drove into a very low property, one that you wouldn’t want to enter in a supercar. It was then that I suddenly noticed the unsuspecting practicality of this car within its segment, one that I have to thank the Italian’s German parent company for. I’m in the prime of my dad bod, 6-feet tall and I wear a size 12 shoe – so I’m in no way a small human. This being the case, the Performanté had no problem accommodating me, even in the footwell. Having recently driven a Diablo, this aspect of the car was a good reminder of how far the brand has come in terms of accommodating those who aren’t supermodel sized. After fuelling ourselves with snacks that encourager my roundness even more, it was time to get back in the V10 monster. I’m now shotgun and unlike supercars of old, this vehicle was built with the passenger in mind as well. Heated seats, Apple CarPlay, a decent infotainment system, the list goes on. Gone are the days that you buy an engine and some seats. My driving partner was tamer than I was and going through wine county at moderate to slow speeds, answered the question that nobody has asked; you can use the Performanté on a daily basis. Just very loudly.

Back in the driver’s seat, I was faced with a mountain pass and a V10 massaging my back. From the first corner, you can tell that this vehicle is built for a driver that will appreciate feedback back from the car, all due to the use of clever tech and settings, allowing the Lambo to give you the best it can. The trickery comes in the form of advanced use of magic and witchcraft in the form of an aero system called ALA or, “Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva”. Now at the end of the article below is the explanation from the press release but a simplified version is as follows. The front and rear spoilers are active and constantly monitor the driving conditions. On ALA off (closed flaps), this allows for maximum cornering and high stability in said twisty bits. On ALA on (open flaps), it’s the converse which is best for top speed runs as there is minimum drag. What is by far the most interesting aspect of this system is that it can apply this system from left to right and in effect, have Aero-Vectoring to help the Performanté remain glued to the road. This also ensures that your under garments remain stain free. In corners, the Aero-Vectoring would close the flaps on the inner wheel (ALA Off) therefore increasing the downforce of the inner wheels reducing the amount of steering lock needed to complete the turn. You may be thinking “what?!” as you read this, but what this means is that the Performanté will corner like a Scalextric car on a road, and if you know the roads like how motoring journos know cape ones, it makes for an experience that you won’t forget in a hurry.

Being a four wheel drive vehicle you expect that pushing the front axle would cause the Lambo to understeer but that word doesn’t exist in this feisty Italians nature. The front goes exactly where you have dialled the lock in and the rear carves the same lane and if you are brave enough, the rear will carve a wider line with the help of the loud peddle. Steering feel is on point and you always feel connected to the road. At first, the steering did feel a bit too quick but once settled in, the nose goes exactly where your eyes want.

So in a nutshell, the Lamborghini is a rollercoaster of epic proportions. It does come with the usual driving modes a car like this would have, namely Strada, (Loud), Sport, (Louder with pops and will oversteer and make you look like a hero to a limit) and finally, Corsa (Louder with pops but will humble you if you are reckless). Suffice to say, we were very happy with a slight squirm accompanied with pops and bangs along some excellent Cape roads, so Sport setting it was. What do all these theatrics cost? R6 095 000.00 and the Rosso Mars vehicle that I’m debating pulling s heist for had a further R 663 110 added to the price list. For the amount of money that Lamborghini demand from you to park on of these in your garage, you have options ranging from a Ferrari 488 GTB, McLaren 600LT or the Porsche GT2RS. All three are excellent cars and will cost roughly the same amount, but all three offer very different experiences. You could also be patient and wait for the Huracan Evo to arrive. A standout feature in the Lamborghini is the engine, that alone can be a decider. Each time you drive it, you’ll feel like a cool guy, in a cool car, doing cool things.

 

What ALA does: 

ALA – Aerodynamics is fundamental to achieving very high performance for super sportscars. Lamborghini have used a patented, advanced active aerodynamic system to reach the highest performance. The use of a complex geometry concept is clearly represented by the rear spoiler, where you can see an inner channel for air flow controlled by an electro-actuated flap. In normal conditions, the flap is closed (Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva OFF) and the spoiler works to create higher vertical downforce, enhancing stability and cornering.

Once the LPI (Lamborghini Piattaforma Inerziale) recognizes the right conditions, the flap opens (ALA ON) letting the air flow through the inner channel created in the mounting of the wing, releasing the air flow through slots underneath the lip spoiler. The consequence of this is the reduction of the vertical load and drag, thus enhancing the acceleration phase and the top speed.

The central air ducts are always opened for the exhaust cooling. The external ducts in ALA OFF mode are closed by the electro-actuated flaps letting the rear lip spoiler create downforce by its external surface as a traditional passive wing. The electro-actuated system reduces the weight by up to 80% compared to traditional hydraulic systems.

Once the flaps open in ALA ON mode the air flow enters the external air ducts, the inner channels of the wing pillars and the rear wing, exiting through the slots engineered underneath the wing. The inner channel of the wing is split in two, divided by a central section, in order to use the ALA ON conditions alternatively on the left or on the right side creating the ideal conditions for high speed cornering and this function is called Aero Vectoring.

As seen for the ALA ON and ALA OFF conditions the Aero Vectoring is also controlled by the LPI in less than 500ms. The Lamborghini Piattaforma Inerziale recognizes the right conditions to asymmetrically actuate the internal flaps, generating low drag on the external wheel and high downforce on inner wheel to create the best conditions for cornering. An effective momentum is generated on the body and chassis, requiring a reduced steering angle to complete the corner and improving dynamic stability.

To balance the ALA effect on the rear track, an active aerodynamic system has been implemented on the front.

In ALA OFF mode the flaps are closed and the front lip spoiler generates high downforce to enhance high speed cornering and stability. As seen at the rear in ALA ON mode the flaps open, reducing the air pressure on the front spoiler. The air goes through the inner channel of the front spoiler and flows underneath the under tray of the car reducing the drag effect and creating the best conditions for acceleration and top speed performance.

ALA ON mode is activated on straight sections under full throttle conditions, to reduce drag due to the air resistance, enhancing the acceleration and the top speed performance. In ALA ON mode the flaps are opened to reduce the load transfer between front and rear. Under braking conditions, once the vertical load is needed, the flaps are closed enhancing stability.

Approaching a corner, the Aero Vectoring mode is activated with the rear flap closed on the internal side of the corner creating a kind of torque vectoring. When looking at the left corners of a circuit on the right corners the flaps on the right are closed, generating downforce on the internal wheel approaching the corner.

ALA enables very effective advantages:

– an increase of 750% of vertical downforce compared with a no rear wing configuration car

– a decrease of 80% in weight compared to a traditional aero system activated by hydraulic actuators

– a quick and responsive system actuated in less than 500ms

– a perfect balance between the front and rear track in ALA OFF mode