This year I had the opportunity to go to the Nurburgring again and this time I test drove a much faster car than the Suzuki Swift I test drove 2 years ago.
Performance – This car is a big step up from the Suzuki Swift. A 2.0L turbocharged inline 4 cylinder engine developing around 210 hp helps this car reach speeds of 220+ km/h on certain sections of the Nordschleife. The engine is pretty much stock apart from an aftermarket K&N intake system and a Forge Motorsports Oil catch can. The engine felt just like the standard 2.0L engine in the VW Gti that I test drove last year, plenty of torque in the mid-range and plenty of power at the top end but some turbo lag at really low rpms (not that you’ll be in that rev range on the track). The engine is mated to a traditional VW 6 speed DSG (dual clutch) gearbox. On the track, the gearbox worked beautifully. Fast and smooth up shifts, quick downshifts, and a little blip of the engine just to make the shifting smoother on the downshift. Driving to and from the track on the street, it wasn’t quite as good. Once the car is on the move, everything is fine but setting off from a stop it felt jerky and a normal manual can be smoother.
Handling wise, it felt very predictable and confidence inspiring. The Toyo R888 tires provided a lot of grip and as the day progressed, I felt like I could go faster and faster on them…. plus the 31°C air temperature also helped. The car was also upgraded with Ohlins coilover suspension, Movit front brake calipers, and Endless racing brake pads. One thing I didn’t like about the car’s handling was the ESP (Electronic Stability Program) system. It was too intrusive through the corners and on the Karussell it was constantly applying the brakes and cutting power from the engine. I wanted to turn it off but I just wasn’t feeling brave enough to do it because it actually did get me out of a “hairy situation” when I was braking and the car wasn’t quite in a straight line. So I just left it on and dealt with it as best I could.
Comfort – It has none because race car. The interior is stripped and full of roll cage. It has snug but uncomfortable Recaro racing seats with a 4 point harness which prevents you from moving one iota. All you hear is the roar of the tires. For blasting down a track it’s tolerable, but for everyday driving it’s unbearable.
Odds and Ends – There isn’t really much else to say about the car. It looks just as good as the current Golf Gti, performs similar to a Golf Gti (if it had the same upgrades), and only roughly 1000 € more expensive than the Gti. I will say this though, it does need a louder exhaust. As I’ve stated earlier and from the video below, the cabin is flooded with the noise from the tires and I found myself sometimes missing an up shift because I just could not hear the engine.
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.