It’s official, Suzuki has returned to Malaysia after a 5-year hiatus. One of its most iconic models, the Suzuki Swift Sport, is set to make a comeback. Full disclosure - yours truly has a third-generation Suzuki Swift Sport (ZC32S) with a stick shift, hence some bias is likely at play here.
As the title would already have hinted, I am a die-hard fan of manual transmissions. So much so that when my colleague Jason was throwing furniture at another colleague, Arif, for his article on manual transmissions being obsolete, I was right behind Jason doing the same.
No matter how advanced automatic transmissions have become, it cannot replicate the satisfaction of a well-executed downshift in manual transmissions, be it just a regular blip of the throttle to rev match or heel-and-toe. Even upshifts have its own joy when you are in perfect synchronicity with the powertrain, every shift becomes wonderfully seamless.
For me, that satisfaction is almost an addiction. Everything else to discourage manual transmissions become mere excuses. Which is why despite having experienced countless disastrous traffic congestions, I've yet to regret picking a manual.
Now, let’s talk about the 2021 Suzuki Swift Sport. We know it has a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that makes 140 PS and 230 Nm of torque, but what we don’t know yet is the transmission option we’ll be getting in Malaysia.
It is my sincerest hope that we get a manual option like we did before in the previous generation Swift Sport. But if I were to channel my rational side in this situation, I’d say the chances of us getting a manual option are not great.
From a business standpoint, a Suzuki Swift Sport with automatic transmission appeals to wider demographics. Taking my generation of the Swift Sport as case study, there are considerably more automatic units on the road than manuals.
This suggests that new car buyers prefer automatics. And if Naza did their homework, they would’ve arrived at the same conclusion. Also, having only one single powertrain option simplifies the after sales processes with less tools and parts, not to mention training. As is always the case, wallets speak louder than words.
I can empathize with that, really. That being said, the Suzuki Swift Sport and manual are synonymous to me. An automatic option may be offered to compliment the manual, but the manual transmission has always been the main dish.
Without a manual option, it’s like going to McDonald’s for a burger but getting told they only have wraps. Yeah, wraps are nice but it’s not a burger, is it?
I’ve said before that driving a manual transmission is like cooking at home; it’s fun, keeps you occupied and ultimately rewarding when you get it right. Just like doing the dishes is a part of cooking, driving a manual in stop-and-go traffic is part of the experience.
You can dine in the most exotic restaurant, but there’s something intangible about a home-cooked meal that’s just irreplaceable. It’s made with affection, and no amount of logic can trump emotion.