I think a new category should be added to Wikipedia’s list of automotive superlatives: “Least Powerful Interesting Car.” Before I go into too much detail about what makes this car so marginally cool, let’s run through a brief history lesson.
What began in 1983 with one car from Suzuki ended up evolving into an incredibly complex, multi-faceted web of badge-engineering spanning over three decades.
It all started with the Suzuki SA-310, which was soon renamed the Cultus (what a clumsy sounding name). Suzuki wanted to bring the car to North America, so they sent it to Canada as a Suzuki Forsa. Then GM wanted a piece of the action. After taking the car and slapping a couple Bowties on it, they called it a Sprint, selling them in the western US states (as competition to Chevy’s own Chevette, which was a very similar car), Canada (alongside the Forsa) and Colombia. After about a year and a half, Chevy began selling the Sprint to the rest of the US. Then Suzuki decided they might want to sell the car on their own in the US as the Suzuki Forsa, but only ever actually sold the car in Hawaii. The Forsa did have a “test run” of sales in the mainland, however; it was never officially on sale here. The car ended up in Australia as a Holden Barina as well, and just in case two models of the same car weren’t enough for the Canadians, GM also sold the car as the Pontiac Firefly to them too. But it doesn’t stop there. Sometime towards the end of the 80s, Suzuki renamed the car again, this time to “Swift”, right around the time that Chevy decided to rename some of the cars (only the non turbo hatchback versions) the “Sprint Metro”. After the second generation car came out, Chevy dropped the Sprint name in the US, but decided to name some of the Canadian cars Sprint Metros while just calling others Metros, selling them alongside each other. Meanwhile, in Colombia, the Sprint was kicking so much ass, it was produced basically unchanged (the biggest change was a switch from 12″ wheels to 13s) from its introduction in 1984 until motherfucking 2004!
So what makes this car so interesting? Come on, is there really such a thing as a turbo hatchback that isn’t interesting? Ok, so the 1.0L 3 cylinder is only pushing 70 horsepower and 79lb-ft of torque. (The N/A version made 48hp.) But this car was a real lightweight. We are talking about a curb weight of 1,367 lbs here. Let me put it to you like this; a Fiat 500 weighs in at 2363 lbs. Shit, even a Smart Fortwo weighs 1600 pounds!
Even though the Sprint Turbo (I’m calling the car a Sprint Turbo because I think it’s the least stupid sounding name out of all of them) wasn’t really all that fast, it probably didn’t matter much. Any way you slice it, you are still looking at a little 5 speed hatchback with cool 80’s style, tasteful ground effects and some neat boost sounds coming from under the hood. The car could take 20 minutes to cross the quarter mile and it would still be worlds more interesting than any small car from the last 10 years could ever hope to be. Unless you live in Colombia, I guess.
PS: I haven’t forgotten my rant about how boring Suzuki’s cars are now. All this means is that they must have moved all car production from the design studio to the opium den some time in the early 90s.