The corresponding power-to-weight ratio of 2.72 kg/hp is on a par with the supercars Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series and Nissan GT-R. Result: The high-revving 1.3-liter four-cylinder from the 300 km/h Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle pushes forward with deafeningly screeching elemental force – usually at an angle. Rally pro and Suzuki brand ambassador Niki Schelle at the wheel of the wild car-motorcycle combo "traverses" curves in the truest sense of the word usually in an extremely angled drift. The new, black-and-red paint scheme with large Falken foil on the side signals: Here's a vicious racer, but when properly controlled, also a scary fun vehicle.
It's oppressively hot at the "Stehrodrom" near Marburg, around 35 degrees in the shade. Behind me, the high-revving four-cylinder engine roars infernally loudly and catapults the 900 kg projectile over the asphalt, next to me Niki Schelle cranks the sports steering wheel back and forth like crazy, in front of me new curves and corners keep building up, through which we immediately drift like crazy. Schelle's perfectly controlled transverse drive has two advantages for me: The exorbitant driving pleasure in the Swift Hayabusa simply doesn't diminish, and thanks to driving wind from the side, a bit more fresh air penetrates through the small opening in the Plexiglas side windows. This is also bitterly necessary, because the 1.3-liter power pack in the rear heats up the cockpit to sauna temperature.
"Hayabusa" is the Japanese word for the bird of prey falcon. Under this illustrious name, Suzuki's sports motorcycle has earned a reputation as a high-speed machine since 1999, when it became the first production bike to break the 300 km/h sound barrier. When Suzuki Germany was pondering a possible rally project at an advanced hour in 2013, various inventive minds came up with the idea: let's transplant the high-revving motorcycle four-cylinder into the light-footed small sports car Swift. Today we know that the combination is highly explosive. And above all: it works.
"At first, we encountered a lot of skepticism, even within our own company," recalls Jörg Machalitzky, press spokesman for Suzuki Germany. And indeed: Adapting the engine and transmission from the motorcycle to the car was very difficult on the way to today's hyper-agile Swift Hayabusa. But today there is sheer enthusiasm everywhere. The reason: What brand ambassador Niki Schelle has been putting on the wide rally wheels since 2013 works convincingly. The ingredients for the Swift Hayabusa are exquisite. In addition to the turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 1.340 cc is part of it: KW suspension adjustable for height, rebound and compression, mechanical limited-slip differential, bucket seats and four-point harnesses, a welded-in roll cage, a mighty rear wing for increased downforce on the driven rear axle, improved brake cooling, a sports exhaust, and weight savings through aluminum and carbon.
What's special about the Swift Hayabusa is that, while a conventional powertrain would stop sooner, the motorcycle engine climbs into even loftier rev regions. "Although we have now reached around 9.500/min. The power output is limited, but it allows us to make the most of the turbocharging," says Schelle of the current powertrain with around 330 hp. On the handling: "You see a Suzuki Swift in front of you, but the car drives completely differently. The Swift's engine is missing at the front, but the fuel tank is now there instead. Nevertheless, the entire front end is naturally very light. Electric assistance for the steering is completely absent, because the motorcycle alternator of the Hayabusa four-cylinder is only designed for low consumers. In the rear you have more weight. The pressure of around 200 Nm of torque. When you're driving across like this and the turbo kicks in, the rear end starts to push extremely fast."
No simple matter, the ride in the Swift Hayabusa. But an incomparable experience already on the vice-like narrow passenger seat. And first on the pilot's side: I first have to get used to the motorcycle gearshift pattern with neutral between first and second gear. I change gears via paddle shifters, but I have to disengage the clutch or the four-cylinder engine will shriek like a primeval monster gone wild when I step on the gas. The braking effect is good with extremely heavy pedal pressure, but without support you have to apply pressure most energetically. So I gradually feel my way to the limits, drifting briefly and violently with ease in a curve with a large run-up zone, shifting gears once later on, and in the end I'm glad that Niki Schelle is still grinning benignly in the passenger seat after five laps of the stand-up circuit.
The ride in the Swift Hayabusa remains long in memory. If only because the immense G-forces during the curve ride near Marburg already give me a severe muscle ache in my back on the flight back to Munich. As Niki Schelle says: "The Swift Hayabusa is a great challenge, because you have to be damn fast at the wheel to control it. But this is pure driving, without ESP or traction control. The limit is you, and that's how it should be."No one at Suzuki thinks a commercial version of the car-motorcycle combination is conceivable, but rides in the drift monster Swift Hayabusa are said to be possible from time to time at events.
Jörg Machalitzky puts the previous cost of the current Swift Hayabusa drift monster at around 70.000 euros – "not really a lot of money for the vehicle's tremendous performance."What's still to come? Further weight reduction is on the agenda, according to Niki Schelle, because superfluous extras like xenon headlights still hold considerable potential. Doors or hood made of GRP will also follow. And according to Schelle, the chassis can be further refined to make the car even better suited to the new rear-wheel drive instead of front-wheel drive. "But even as it is now, it already presents an incredible driving challenge."Says Niki Schelle and grins again, the way you just can't avoid after a ride in the Swift Hayabusa.