GT-Rs, Supras, NSXs, Evos, WRXs. Do we tend to focus a little too much on the higher end of the Japanese sports car spectrum? Sure, it’s unavoidable getting drawn to the most powerful and fastest cars out there, but it’s equally important to remember that fun in cars is not all about sheer power and figures.
In fact, I’d happily argue with anyone that doesn’t believe this to be true. And it’s little cars like the Suzuki Swift Sport that I’d bring up as examples in a debate. We’ve seen this chassis at time attack events forever now, and there is a very good reason why. People like them; they are affordable and a great way to get into some fun driving.
Because of this, the Japanese aftermarket has responded with a wide selection of parts – anything and everything you need to fine tune your Swift into a precision carving tool. And the word ‘carving’ here is in reference to corners; this is not a car for quarter miles and high speed runs.
Cars the like Swift Sport instantly remind me of the massive fun I had in my early motoring years behind the wheels of hot hatches. Although these cars generally have slightly less power than you may have hoped for, they make you work hard to extract speed. And that is where true motoring satisfaction really lies.
It’s all about the work you have to put in, refining lines, shifting fast so as not to waste even a quarter of a horsepower, and my favorite of all – braking late and using momentum as you set up for a corner.
Fast and powerful cars driven to this degree are beyond scary, and if you’re driving them with that sort of involvement you are most definitely doing something dangerous and illegal and probably should be on a track.
Apologies for the lengthy intro, but I felt like I should give you some context to this piece on a very special HKS demo car. One as special as it is bright.
This is another car that HKS built for TAS 2020 and it wears every single part that the famed Japanese manufacturer produces for the ZC33S chassis, plus some extras, like the the carbon fiber WRC wing that Saito-san at HKS found in Poland of all places.
It’s something he knew would set the car off rather well; what a great internet find!
To visually support the large piece of aerodynamic appendage, HKS crafted this front spoiler, finishing it off with a wood splitter section to ensure that when it rubs and scrapes it doesn’t hurt quite as much as if it was pre-preg dry carbon.
Like all of the HKS cars we saw last month, the Swift sits on Yokohama wheels, specifically 18×7-inch Advan Racing TC-4s shod in 215/40ZR18 Advan Neova rubber.
Braking is addressed with Endless 4-pot calipers that bite down on 2-piece rotors up front, resulting in more stopping power than you would ever need in a small car like the Swift.
HKS Hipermax Max IV SP coilovers take care of the handling, which is geared towards a mix of fast road use and the ability to be fun on the odd track excursion.
Power-wise, the Suzuki K14C 1.4-liter turbo mill has been given a power-up with HKS’s GTIII Sports Turbine kit.
At 1bar (14.7psi) of boost, the turbo and HKS Mastery ECU combo lifts output to 200hp, a 35hp increase over stock. That said, even a simple turbo swap would be enough to reduce back pressure and increase spool-up on a stock engine. HKS says that even with a 10hp hike the engine instantly feels more responsive and alive.
The demo car runs HKS’s front-mounted intercooler kit, because when you bump boost pressure the inlet temperature rises, so improvements to the way the intake charge is cooled are required. There’s also an HKS oil cooler kit fitted.
The HKS twin-exit exhaust is mated to a stainless steel front pipe section and a sports catalyst to get the best out of the mods up front.
When on boost, the HKS Swift sounds like a WRC car coming towards you on a mountain tarmac rally stage. Which is pretty much what the road we were shooting the car on looked like.
So what do you do after you’ve created a 200hp go kart?
You sort out the seating. The last thing you want to do when linking up tight second and third-gear corners around Mr. Fuji is be thrown around the cabin.
Enter Bride, who sent over a pair of seats – a carbon fiber fixed-back LowMax bucket for the driver side, and a reclinable LowMax with high bolsters for the passenger side.
Yep, you’ve guessed it, there was no way in hell my very Western-sized posterior was going to fit in the small Bride bucket, so the best I could do is imagine what sitting at the controls of the HKS Swift would be like from an interesting vantage point – one of the harness openings.
I’ve gotten this far and failed to mention one of the most important things about the ZC33S – it’s manual. The 6-speed is nice and tight and has closely matched gears so you get the very best out of the engine. No CVTs to be seen!
If your goal is to create a fun, affordable and very current hot hatch, the HKS Swift certainly shows you the way.
Powerful GT-Rs and Supras are fun, but cars like these are even more fun for a totally different set of reasons. When in doubt, simplify. Now, if I’d only followed that advice with my own cars…
Dino Dalle Carbonare