BMW i3 Versus Suzuki Swift – Track Test Video

DEC 27 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 10

BMW i3 Versus Suzuki Swift

BMW i3 Versus Suzuki Swift

Here in the U.S., we’re not too familiar with the Suzuki Swift Sport, so here’s a brief primer:

The Suzuki Swift Sport is powered by a 1.6 liter 4-cylinder engine producing 100 kW (136 bhp) and 160 Nm torque. The model comes with the option of a six-speed manual transmission or a high performance CVT transmission with 7-speed manual mode and paddle shifters.

It’s 0 to 60 MPH time is listed at 8.7 seconds.

The Suzuki Swift Sport is considered one of the leading hot hatchbacks for penny-pinching buyers.

In this video, Auto Express pits the Suzuki Swift Sport against the BMW i3 REx.  Auto Express wonders:

“How does the tech-fest electric BMW i3 fare against a traditional hot hatch in the form of the Suzuki Swift?”

As you’ll see in the video, the BMW i3 struggles to keep up with the Swift Sport, but that’s not due to the i3 lacking the necessary grunt.  Rather, the BMW i3’s overly intrusive traction control spoils its punch.  That traction control cuts in throughout the lap due the i3’s tires lacking grip.  This severely hampers the i3 and leads to an unimpressive lap time.

Basically, the cheapish Swift Sport crushes the i3, which is not the result we expected to see.

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10 Comments on "BMW i3 Versus Suzuki Swift – Track Test Video"

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Ct200h

They used a Rex, a BEV is 300 lbs lighter , that and some better tires would help even the gap

David Murray

Hmmm. I’m a bit confused on some of this. First of all, he said the Swift was “substantially faster” than the i3. But according to the numbers, it was only 8 seconds faster. And I’m willing to bet more of that has to do with the driver than the car, especially being that the i3 has a faster 0-60 time than the Swift. I’m guessing the tires were somewhat of a limitation on the corners, but I can’t imagine that would make all that much difference.

Ask anyone who regularly does track days, or races professionally, they will likely say that eight seconds per lap is an eternity on a race track.

Tires do indeed make a huge difference – in my experience, 20mm additional width and a stickier compound will shave seconds off of lap times for a vehicle similar in power and weight to the i3.

The i3 got spanked on this one, as should be expected… from what I’ve read elsewhere, the Swift Sport is tweaked to be a hot hatch that’s supposed to be relatively quick on the track, the i3 is not. Not an interesting comparison, if you ask me.

A more interesting i3 lap time comparison would be with a 500e or Focus Electric…

Robert

The biggest problem in this test was the fact that you can’t switch off the stability control in the BMW.
With the stability control on, the car wouldn’t let the driver use all of it’s performance to the full.
You can drive around understeer, ‘slow in fast out’ or lift off momentarily as you turn in to use the weight transfer to make the front tyres grip. Hell, that’s how we’ve been driving Mini’s for decades!
But BMW knows best……NOT!

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of BMW…
How long before someone takes BMW to court over trade description infringements.
I mean, just how long before they have to stop calling the Mini, ‘Mini’ and start calling it the Maxi???
The bloody thing is H U G E !

Stability/traction control or not, the root cause for the i3 being slow around the track is those tires. Put it this way – stick 155mm width low rolling resistance tires on the Swift, and you will see its lap times degrade considerably.

Aaron

…and see its range degrade too.

One of the car mags put some super sticky tires on the LEAF and managed to get >1G lateral acceleration out of it. The range took a huge hit though, as expected.

BMW should be embarrassed that a Suzuki can beat “the ultimate driving machine”.

Tires can make a car win a race, or take out the barriers in a race – so they are a pretty good key measure of what makes a race. Years ago – I used to drive a simple ’81 Chevy Citation – with a 4 Speed Manual. One day – a Camaro came by and passed me on a straight, but as soon as we got to the curves, I passed him. He had the same 2.8 Litre engine, so that was not the deal, but I had on my Sears Ice & Snows (Made by Pirelli, and extra sticky!) Since he did not like being passed by a crappy little Citation – he went to work to pass me again on the straight, but – another curve was there before he knew it and he slowed down again – I continued at a steady speed as passed him again! Fuel Efficient they might not have been – but they were very easy to understand the grip the had, as they were very communicative tires – and you could tell very well the level of traction used up and left almost to a millisecond in pushing them hard! This… Read more »
Robert

“A polar opposite counterpoint…?”
They should have used my 2000 Seat Ibiza SDi or maybe my 1996 Discovery 300TDi. Both would have qualified as a ‘polar opposite counterpoint’.
The Seat would have got spanked, but not the Disco. I’d have used some of Tiff Needell’s lines. IE cut the corners…

Phr3d

BMW’s traction control cutting power has been brutal, firmwareing that out would shave seconds easily.

James

The i3 is neither “Ultimate Driving Machine” nor “Ultimate Mileage Machine” – it’s a number of compromises that ended up a very expensive 70-85 mile BEV, or a very expensive-limited-duty EREV (ReX).

If based purely on performance or lap times, these types of comparisons quickly point out that no matter how low the center of gravity of a vehicle is, it cannot overcome the narrow, tall tires it employs for electric range. If the rather substantial traction nannies were not there – the i3 would be a Red Ryder wagon!

AWD would help, but again highlight the limitations of low grip and substantial weight. For a zippy city car, i3 fits the bill, just don’t put it up against conventional cars of any ilk for lap times. A better competition would be a Chevrolet Volt or Opel/Vauxhall Ampera vs. i3. I’m thinking the Volt would come out ahead. And by the way, eight seconds is huge!