Normal. /ˈnɔːm(ə)l/ How do we define this adjective? Conventional. Everyday. Quotidan. Habitual. Run of the mill.. Well let me tell you now - this car is none of the above.
Take your average hatchback with the most common modifications; Induction Kit, Decat, Buy it Now Coilovers followed by a Stage 2 Remap (more on this later) and you have what most people in the UK call a 'well modded' car. Take that 'modified' contraption somewhere like The Nordschleife and you will very quickly find yourself being laughed at. Worse so when you attempt to tackle the World's most Dangerous Circuit and fail, taking several barriers with you!
Those types of modifications do not strictly constitute 'good' tuning in my books, and if I haven't half bored you to death already please read on..
What you get from Rent4Ring is a PROPERLY set up Stage 2 Suzuki Swift with the following modifications over their previous model.
• Stripped out and fitted with a full Wiechers rollcage, racing seats and harnesses
• Upgraded with KW or Öhlins DFV suspension and modified geometry
• Lightweight, 15" alloys
• Racing four-into-one exhaust and sports air intake
• Recaro lightweight bucket seats
• Upgraded brakes with top-spec Endless Racing pads, fluid and hoses.
• More power (136hp) than the previous model
• Six-speed gearbox
What Rent4Ring have prepared is a Sports Hatchback with the perfect setup for use on the Nordschleife. Please remember it is a ROAD with tight bends and inclines, swooping declines and a combination of Roller-Coaster hurls that even causes your ears to pop!
It is not a Race Track. The Grand Prix Circuit is mostly flat and ready for those types of car - the Nordschleife is a road and the car needs to be either kept standard or set up for Fast Road conditions in my opinion. To help get this vehicle around as quickly as possible it comes with smaller Alloy Wheels which are lightweight and turn faster against a competitor such as Renault Clio RS200.
After a detailed briefing I was handed the key and shown around the car. Because it has a Racing Harness and different brakes to a normal road model they do have to go through the controls and how best to use them. Application of brake pressure is something I stress to driving enthusiasts, also knowing how to slow without STOMPING on the pedal is best. Progressive braking with a slight 'lift' before a further and more aggressive push is my method. Viewing sceptics please note I have changed my brake pads just ONCE in the Porsche 911 during my near three-year ownership.
The Race Harness was secured by one of the Rent4Ring team - it definitely holds you steady against the Recaro Bucket Seat! My passenger Nico was also secured then both handed a bottle of water that sits in a secure holder either side of the door. It is such a great feature I am tempted to add one to my car.
It didn't take long before I was able to set off, and I am glad these guys spend more time talking through the car with you - it is clear they are passionate about the Nurburgring and want you to get the best out of your visit. Should you encounter any problems there is a number you can ring and the Emergency Track Number is on the Rent4Ring card given to you before leaving.
The Nordschleife was closed when we arrived at the gates. Somebody decided to crash his Renault Clio by attempting to be a superhero; those types of driver I quickly avoid and let past. I remember indicating to allow a Renault Megane to pass during a previous visit, and he nearly toppled the car at Metzgesfeld! I stared in horror but luckily the car settled itself. He very nearly became another YouTube statistic and had something gone wrong it would have been entirely his fault.
I think the trick to The Nordschleife is to stay on the Accelerator Pedal. By this I do not mean driving flat out with whatever unspent testosterone happens to be surging around your body - I mean cruising the Throttle to keep good contact on the road surface at all times.
Light throttle (where applicable) keeps the car stable and is probably the reason I haven't been caught out where many lose control. Drive the car! If you aren't confident with your ability do not go straight on the Nordschleife. You would do better paying for passenger laps and observing for at least 10x rounds before considering it yourself.
Back to the Swift..
I am seriously in love with this machine! Anybody who follows me on Facebook will have seen my recent posts about these cars - I was lucky enough to drive a Blue Swift Sport owned by Mark's mum (Revitupuk) and I loved every minute of it. I also had the chance to drive a 1.3 Litre Model which could also make a very fun Nordschleife Go-Kart with a few modifications!
Rent4Ring have taken what is already an epic little motor and turned it into something capable of making expensive car owners weep! Everything about this car says 'YES' and I would love to drive it home.
Completely mind blowing! I never thought this chassis was capable of the abuse that they are put through. I love so many hatchbacks and have always been a fan of the Renault Clio 172/182/197 etc. Unfortunately for Renault the Swift beats it. I have tested this in Road and Fast Road form and it is probably the best handling FWD car to date. I have been tempted to buy one myself it is so good.
This car isn't everybody's cup of tea - and a lot of the negative responses heard are always about the 'look' of the car. Now I am sorry but if I bought cars purely on image I would not have bought a Porsche 911. I'd have probably gone for an Aston Martin V8 Vantage or maybe a TVR Sagaris. Plus they are easier to drive (Front Engined RWD) so that would have saved a lot of practise over the past years driving the 911.
I quite like the look of the Swift. It doesn't need much loving because the fun starts when you turn the key. Any hatchback with a Spoiler gets a thumbs up from me, and actually, I LOVE IT!
Surprising is the first word that comes to mind. From a small 1.6 Litre Engine it does have some kick. I think the combination of modifications - especially the Four into One Exhaust Manifold chosen gets the best out of it across the RPM range. It doesn't feel as restricted lower down when compared to the Road model - and it provides enough power for me to overtake a BMW 5 Series and cause upset when a 350Z thought he had he ability to pass me at Galgenkopf!
The throttle response is very fast. Sprightly is a good word and whenever I press the Accelerator I am confident that this car can pull me around with a stupidly big smile on my face.
Sporty and noteable. You can hear the exhaust from inside the cabin - but it isn't too intrusive that you get a headache. It isn't repulsive like a Honda Civic either and makes just enough noise to alert passers-by (and pedestrians) of my presence. Definitely a good move from Rent4Ring doing the exhaust as there are several Jaywalkers in the carpark who jolted as I drove toward the ticket gate.
Rent4Ring are an amazing company and after taking their car on the Nordschleife and giving it a bit of a spanking they were incredibly kind on return. They did not charge me for the vehicle rental! How cool!
I am so grateful for this and cannot thank them enough for the courtesy. What a trip! I thought my previous times at the Ring were special but this ranks among the highest. Driving the Porsche 911 is so much fun, learning more about the car as I tackle the tarmac, but ultimately the Suzuki Swift Sport is incredibly agile and dare I say on par because it is so driver focused and thrill-giving.
This is why I love visiting and driving The Nurburgring. It is absolute Car Heaven! Everybody is as enthusiastic about good driving just as much if not more than me. I promised not to over-rev, or drive the vehicle aggressively near the RPM Limit and they were able to see this after looking at the Engine Data Log transmitted from the car.
If you plan on visiting for the first time, or are already a seasoned driver wanting to get some laps in I strongly advise contacting the team at Rent4Ring and having a go in one of their Suzuki Swifts. I guarantee you will be back for more ;-)
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Nicholas Lawrence //ON CARS
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