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I love a comparison. This week, I’m comparing Suzuki’s new Swift Sport and Opel’s outgoing Corsa GSI. Both nameplates, Sport and GSI, conjure adrenaline-filled smiles. These fun little city hatches are designed to dart from robot to robot while hugging each corner for small bursts of fun to and from work.
I’ll begin with the Swift Sport that recently launched locally. From a style perspective, the Sport version has been reworked from all angles to give it a purposeful stance in keeping with its Sport badge. The front styling features an all-new front design over the standard Swift. It includes a larger and reverse-slanted front grille with honeycomb pattern, straddled by two large cut-outs with integrated fog lights. The front lights are LEDs with long light-bar type LED daytime running lights and there is a front splitter with carbon-fibre type patterning to round off the sporty look.
From the side, you notice 16” diamond-cut and polished alloy wheels and carbon fibre-patterned side underspoilers that flow from the front splitter between the front and rear tyres for improved aerodynamics and a lower, ground-hugging appearance. At the rear, a completely redesigned bumper houses two chromed exhaust pipes, one on either side, that have been acoustically engineered for a deeper note. Unfortunately, not deep enough. The sound isn’t very sporty – more like a teen boy whose voice is cracking. There is also a roof spoiler that accents the message of speedy progression.
Beneath the Swift’s sporty attire lies revised suspensions, shock absorbers and brakes that are better equipped to handle the Sport’s driving prowess. A highlight is the new 1.4 T engine. This unit replaces the previous 1.6 naturally-aspirated motor. Perfectly suited to the Swift’s lightweight 970kg body, with 103 kW/230 Nm and the motor’s freely available torque curve. 0 to 100 km/h happens in 8 seconds. That’s a fact on paper. Behind the wheel, the experience suggests something quicker. Throw the Sport around a corner and it tracks the bend with aplomb. Its lightweight body does the Swift justice and infuses it with driving exhilaration.
On the inside are red detailed accents that you’ll find on the dash, doors and seats stitching. Talking of seats, the Sport has new sports seats that hold the driver and front passenger like a baseball in its mitt. If you’re are a larger person, the hug may feel like a squeeze. The Sport also features Suzuki’s touchscreen infotainment system that replaces the entry-level Swift’s basic system. It is easy to use and a nice feature to have.
The Swift Sport is a stellar product that delivers on its nameplate. Easy-to-live-with and easy-to-enjoy. It’s a safe choice but with a mischievous nature.
The Corsa GSI, on the other hand, is a more mature product. In fact, Opel will be replacing the current Corsa imminently - as there is a new model, the sixth generation Corsa F. Before that arrives, we have a Corsa E - a top-of-the-range GSI. GSI, as a nameplate, represents dynamic driving at Opel’s finest and must offer a wild and playful character to its driver.
The GSI features similar proportions to the Swift, albeit it is a coupe. The Corsa GSI carries all the expected dressings that you would expect and more. Restyled bonnet, bumpers and exaggerated fin are part of the package. Sporting bold typical GSI rims are a highlight that adds more than aesthetic value. On the inside, you’ll find a tech-laden cabin: upmarket climate control, infotainment screen, collision prevention warning system and all sorts of other autonomous aids for lights and widescreen wipers and to keep you in your lane. Another highlight of the GSI’s cabin is the beautiful leather-wrapped Recaro seats that are heated along with the steering wheel. The GSI is very well-equipped, leaving little off the technology wish list. As an example, the front windscreen is heated for icy conditions.
On the road, the GSI feels well-planted, reassured and very secure. As you’d expect of a thoroughbred, the suspension is firm. The point is its dynamic improvement. On poor road surfaces, you may feel as if you’re being thrown around. Steering is light and direct. The 6-speed manual gearbox does a beautiful job of engaging the driver without creating any sensation of labour. Essentially it is a treat. The 1.4 turbocharged motor fitted to the GSI offers 110 kW/ 220 Nm. Despite its 7kW advantage over the Swift Sport, its additional weight only allows for a sprint time of 9.2 seconds to 100 km/h. The motor is refined and nicely mated with its throaty exhaust system.
Perhaps a little disappointing is the power of the GSI. In practicality, the mini hot hatch puts its power down beautifully. It’s well-behaved and very capable, but it is a GSI – meaning you’d expect a little extra and perhaps some mischief? Despite this debate that questions the need for more power, the GSI is a very tidy product.
Are these two cars direct competition? Similar but different - I would position the Suzuki at a younger customer on a tighter budget who needs the practicalities the Swift offers. The GSI would be better suited to an individual who can spend an extra R50 000 for all the mod-cons that elevate the overall Corsa experience.
Corsa GSI R365 900
Swift Sport manual R315 900
Swift Sport automatic R335 900
Service and warranty
The Swift Sport is sold with a 4-year/60 000km service plan and a 5-year/200 000km vehicle warranty.
The Corsa is sold with a 3-year / 60 000km service plan.
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