Japan is never short of well-respected hatchbacks. In fact, the Suzuki Swift is along the more popular and affordable hatchbacks, worthy as a successor to the evergreen Honda Civics hatchbacks of the past.
Despite being introduced in 2004, the second generation Swift continues to plow on as one of the more sensible and reliable cars on the road today. If you look hard enough, you may even find a handful of the first generation Swifts still registered in Singapore. Sure, Suzuki is also known for compact SUVs like the Jimny and Vitara, but it’s the kei-cars and supermini hatchbacks that the company really excels at.
You may wonder, what happened to the third gen in Singapore? It was a better car than the predecessor, but it just had a bad stroke of luck that the COE premiums were at a shocking level – plus, it was much more affordable to get a used second-gen unit.
It has been said that the automotive industry’s hidden tuning gems can be found in the regular versions of high-performance vehicles. Although there are some exceptions to the rule, regular cars offer almost everything that their high-performance cousin has, minus the rock-hard suspension setup, noisy grippy tyres and a nicer equipment package.
While having an four-speed automatic for a comfortable, fuss-free daily drive, it’s hard to feel engine power upgrades due to the nature of a torque converter based four-speed gearbox. In order to race, most of the upgrades here are focused on pure handling prowess and cooling.
But that doesn’t mean he didn’t fiddle around in the engine bay first. Instead of power upgrades, throttle response is enhanced with an enlarged air intake plus a Swift Sport air intake manifold handle all the high-rpm air requirements, plus a new, less-restrictive muffler for less exhaust back pressure.
Lightened crank pulleys may be the rage for performance enthusiasts, but this Swift features a unique mod: A large diameter water pump pulley reduces the load on the engine – which robs less power to run the water pump effectively. With all the powertrain details sorted, it was time to beef up the suspension. Going beyond the various stiffening bars, a combination of hard Tomei and soft XYZ springs kept the car planted on the various autocross-level tracks which the owner prefers to compete on.
Braking was not overlooked, keeping in mind that his competition is always held on medium-low speed circuits, the original brakes were upsized and upgraded with slotted rotors and sport pads from the Suzuki Swift Sport, which also replaces the original rear drum brake setup for a more neutral braking response.
Finally, the stock seats won’t make the cut if you’re serious into competing. The driver gets a nice Bride Low Max while those who ride shotgun get held in place by the Bride Gias. Snappy steering comes courtesy of a momo steering wheel.
With plenty of track outings starting from the Drive Rite Tarmac Rally-X, Supersonic Touge Max!, plus a long history of participating in the local Autotest, a gymkhana and autocross hybrid event, it’s clear cut that one can turn a regular car into a competitive one, if you modify it right!
Suzuki Swift ZC11
Handling – 8
Engine – 6
Aerodynamics – 6
Uniqueness – 7
Cockpit dressup – 6
K&N drop in air filter
Brandless china cold air intake pipe
ZC31S intake manifold
RNE throttle body spacer
K&N breather filter
Monster Sport water pump pulley
HKS Silent Hi-Power Muffler
ZYX Super Sport Coilovers
F: 8kg Tomei spring
R: 5kg XYZ spring
TRW front slotted rotors
ACRE street brake pads (front)
ACRE DRIPA brake pads (rear)
Cusco front strut bar
Cusco rear strut bar (boot bar)
Cusco front anti-roll bar
Beatrush room bar
Beatrush roof bar
Summit Racing rear anti-roll bar
PJS fender bar
Rear disc conversion.
Whiteline front lower arm bushings
Bride Low Max
Bride seat rail
Momo steering wheel w/ HKB boss kit
JS square custom speedometer lights
Monster Sport CF rear spoiler