The Swift gets swifter: our intrepid autophile John Neff has checked in from Paris with details on the new European-market Suzuki Swift Sport.

The compact and sporty Swift has already been met with awards and applause, and the new hot-hatch version, which benefits from Suzuki's experience in the highly competitive Junior World Rally Championship, should only earn it more friends.

The Swift Sport has been on the Japanese market already for a year, but Paris marks its European debut. Motivation comes courtesy of a 16-valve four-cylinder 1.6-liter VVT engine driving 125 horses through a close-ratio five-speed en route to the front wheels and on to the pavement.

The sporty version is visually differentiated by a revised front bumper, new alloys, lip spoiler and twin exhaust pipes. Inside everything's black and red, including the more supportive sport buckets up front, and metal-finish fixtures and trim.

The supermini segment is a packed one, especially in Europe, and the hot hatch market is stiff competition. But with sharp, simple styling and a winning powerplant, the Swift Sport seems to make a good thing better.

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(You know the drill: follow the jump for more pics and the press release.)

Press Release:

The New European-Specification Swift Sport: Ready to Put the Fun Back into Driving

At the 2006 Paris Mondial de l'Automobile, Suzuki is unveiling the new Swift Sport-a compact car that takes driving enjoyment to an unprecedented level.

The Swift Sport is the flagship model of the new Swift, which Suzuki recently unveiled as its first new world strategic model. In the Swift Sport's development, Suzuki targeted a model that would not only make sporty driving hugely enjoyable but also be fun to use and inspire pride of ownership.

As with the standard new Swift and the new SX4 crossover vehicle, Suzuki honed the Swift Sport's accelerating, cornering, and braking performance using technological know-how gained in the Junior World Rally Championship. And since launching the Japanese-specification Swift Sport in September last year, we've been adjusting the performance and chassis tuning for the European launch. As a result, the European-specification Swift Sport allows confident, stress-free high-speed driving in just about any typical European road conditions.
At the same time, the Swift Sport incorporates sporty new design features and a range of innovations for day-to-day comfort and convenience. All told, he European-specification Swift Sport is a great new choice for people looking to put the fun back into their driving.

Dynamic exterior design

  • Aggressively styled, aerodynamically effective front bumper
  • Sporty, elegant alloy wheels
  • Dual chromed exhaust tailpipes

The Swift Sport's dynamic personality is expressed through a range of exclusive exterior-design features.

Seen from the front, the Swift Sport's low, wide, stable look is enhanced by a new bumper design in which extra-large openings hint at powerful engine performance and fin-shaped mouldings near the lower edge serve the dual aims of sporting looks and reduced front lift. Also, the foglamp bezels are designed to show off the foglamp components in way that gives a sense of movement.

The side view is enhanced by newly designed alloy wheels in a choice of two sizes. And seen from the rear, the Swift Sport is distinguished by newly designed tail-lamps with a clear, deep look, by a lift-suppressing spoiler at the rear edge of the roof, and by dual chromed exhaust tailpipes.
Suzuki will offer the Swift Sport in a choice of five exterior colours.

Driver-focused interior design

  • Striking red-and-black colour scheme
  • Sport front seats offering comfort during sporty driving and long journeys
  • Eye-catching metal-look components

Suzuki knows that driving pleasure depends not only on great performance but also on the cockpit experience: the look of the instruments; the feel of the steering wheel; the precision of the gearshift; the tactile pleasure of inspired design realized in high-quality materials. So the Swift Sport fully embodies the attention to enjoyment that everyone expects from a great driving machine.

A red-and-black colour scheme sets a dynamic tone for every drive. And sports front seats designed especially for the Swift Sport give just the right combination of support, hold, and comfort for sporty driving thanks to deeper-than-standard bolsters, firmer-than-standard padding, and a lumbar supporter that's tuned to minimize lon -journey fatigue. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and metal-look components including a chrome-ringed three-dial instrument cluster and stainless-steel pedals add sportiness and quality that further heighten the experience. And throughout the cockpit, parts touched by the driver have different tactile qualities to promote driver concentration.

Further, the Swift Sport adds roominess and practicality to the feel and performance of a sports car: Thanks to Suzuki's expertise in using space efficiently, there's room for four people to ride in comfort. And even with a full complement of passengers, there are 213 litres (VDA) of luggage capacity. Plus, the rear seatback can be folded down to expand the luggage capacity to 495 litres (VDA) when necessary.


Powertrain

  • High-performance 1.6-litre DOHC engine with variable valve timing (VVT)
  • Satisfyingly sporty sound
  • Close-ratio manual transmission

For performance that excites the driver's senses, the Swift Sport is powered by Suzuki's M16A VVT, 16-valve, four-cylinder, 1,586cm3 petrol engine, which delivers maximum power of 92kW at 6,800rpm and maximum torque of 148N-m at 4,800rpm running with a relatively high compression ratio of 11.1. The engine gives the Swift Sport a top speed of 200km/h (124mph).

The intake and exhaust systems are tuned for powerful high-rev operation: An electronically controlled throttle optimizes the engine's air intake while an aluminium intake manifold with specially widened intake runners and polished internal surfaces maximizes the amount of air available. And in the exhaust system, a high-capacity sport muffler promotes engine power while feeding dual tailpipes that emit a robust, sporting sound.

Inside the engine, the oving parts reflect extensive power- and torque-enhancing measures: The pistons are warm-forged for a combination of high strength and minimal friction losses. Oil jets are incorporated into the cylinder block to promote piston-cooling performance. And variable valve timing with high-lift intake and exhaust cams helps the engine run with optimal efficiency, meaning that abundant torque and accordingly strong acceleration are available across the rev range.

The engine is mated to a five-speed close-ratio manual transmission. The transmission has specially strengthened internal components and a larger-than-standard clutch (200mm-diameter as opposed to the standard 190mm-diameter) to cope with the engine's high power. It also has a Teflon-coated shift cable that suppresses friction for smooth shif ing.

Chassis

  • Sporty yet confidence-inspiring handling
  • Exclusively tuned suspension with MONROE®shock absorbers
  • Choice of large-dia eter wheels

The Swift Sport's chassis systems are based on those of the standard new Swift but incorporate extensive upgrades for dynamics that feel sporty and enlivening without any sacrifice in controllability. To achieve chassis tuning that meets the demands of European drivers, Suzuki conducted tests in diverse, challenging conditions on the Nuerburgring circuit and other European roads.

The suspension system has the same basic structure as that of the standard Swift (front MacPherson struts and rear torsion beam) but is exclusively set up for the Swift Sport. Notably, it has MONROE® sport-specification shock absorbers with specially tuned damping characteristics. Also, the bushes and other suspension components have been strengthened and tuned for high stability and handling performance, yet a good balance between handling and ride comfort is achieved; there's ample suppleness for diverse road conditions.

To suppress twisting and bending that would spoil the crucial suspension geometry, the chassis has specially strengthened components.

The feel and response of the steering system are of paramount importance in a high-performance front-wheel-drive ca since they determine how well the driver feels in touch with the road. So the Swift Sport has a new-specification electronically controlled power steering system that gives an optimal balance between effort and feedback.

The standard alloy wheels have 16-inch rims and 195/50R16 tyres, but there's the option of 17-inch alloy wheels with lower-profile, 195/45R17 tyres for an even greater sense of grip and control in sporty driving. Consistent, confidence-inspiring stopping power is assured by large disc brakes at the front and rear.

Note: MONROE is a registered trademark of Tenneco.

Safety and security

  • Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) incorporated as standard equipment
  • Six airbags incorporated as standard equipment

Since peace of mind is crucial for enjoyable driving, the Swift Sport has Suzuki's latest technologies for safety and security.

An ESP® promotes the Swift Sport's stability with three main functions: an anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD); traction control; and stability control. The stability-control function generates a compensating yaw moment in the event of front- or rear-wheel slippage to help return the car to the intended line.

In case of an unavoidable collision, the Swift Sport has the same crashworthy body structure a the standard Swift. And its cabin incorporates the same collapsible steering column, foot-protection-design brake and clutch pedals, front-seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, and front, side, and curtain airbags.

To allow even greater peace of mind, the Swift Sport is protected from theft by an immobiliser.

Note: ESP is a registered trademark of DaimlerChrysler AG.