Normal. /ˈnɔːm(ə)l/ How do we define this adjective? Conventional. Everyday. Quotidan. Habitual. Run of the mill.. Let me tell you - 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. More so when you attempt to tackle the World's most loved Racetrack and find the Car just isn't up to par.
Those types of modifications do not strictly constitute 'good' tuning in my mind, and if I haven't bored you already please read on..
What you get is a PROPERLY set up Suzuki Swift Sport with the following modifications.
• 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
This is a Sports Hatchback with a good 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 can cause your ears to pop with the elevation changes!
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 the base model, the mechanics explain the controls and help with getting comfortable before you leave the garage. 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 changed my front brake pads just ONCE in the Porsche 911 during my three and a half year ownership.
The Race Harness was secured by one of the team - it definitely holds you steady against the Recaro Bucket Seat.
It didn't take long before I was able to set off, and I am glad the guys spend more time talking through the car with you - it is clear they are passionate about the Nürburgring Nordschleife and want you to get the best out of your visit. Should you encounter any problems there is an office number and an emergency number on the card given to you.
The Nordschleife was closed when we arrived at the gates. Somebody crashed a Renault Clio which is a shame. 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 could have been another sad moment for everybody.
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 stability on the road surface.
Light throttle (where applicable) keeps the car stable and will lessen the chance of you losing control. If you aren't confident with your own ability do not drive 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 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 Revitupuk and loved every minute of it. I also had the chance to drive a 1.3 Litre Model which could also make a very fun Go-Kart with a few modifications!
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.
This car isn't everybody's cup of tea - and a lot of the negative responses are usually about the 'look' of the car. If I bought cars purely on image I would not have bought a Porsche 911 (before the Golf 7 GTi which is also ugly). I would have probably gone for an Aston Martin Vantage or maybe a TVR Sagaris. Both the Aston and TVR would be easier to drive (Front Engine'd 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. Most hatchbacks with a Spoiler get a thumbs up from me, and to be honest I LOVE THE SWIFT!
Surprising is the first word that comes to mind. From a small 1.6 Litre it has some kick. I think the combination of modifications - especially the Four into One Exhaust Manifold chosen gets the best out of it. It doesn't feel as restricted lower down when compared to the Road model - and provides enough power for me to overtake a BMW 5 Series and a 350Z thought he had he knew how to tackle Galgenkopf!
Throttle response is very fast and responsive. Sprightly is a good word and whenever I press the Accelerator I am confident that this car can pull me around with a cheeky grin 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 with a decat, 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.
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 Nordschleife. It really is 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 you can contact me directly for one of the Seat Ibiza Cupra 1.8 TSI 'learner cars' from EVN Ring Rentals ;-)
If you are on a mobile device keep scrolling down to look at the additional images!
Video from the cockpit - apologies for the poor quality!
Nicholas Lawrence //ON CARS
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