Long-term test: Supercar performance, bargain price

Published: 27 January 2015

Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R

Forget your ultra-exotic, ultra-expensive supercars, Suzuki Hayabusa reaches 200mph from as little as £4000.

So Top Gear’s back for yet another series, and as I was caught in a state of post-Sunday lunch snooziness, I decided to sit and watch as Clarkson and his cronies embarked on yet another car vs a.n other vehicle challenge in yet another exotic location.

Eyelids started to get even heavier…

But then a bright green flash woke me up. It was a slot on the latest Lambo, the new Gallardo replacement called the Huracán. 5.2-litres of snorting, V10 generating 600bhp, all unleashed via Lambo’s trademark four-wheel-drive system. Yours for the tidy sum of £180,000. 

A breathless Hammond waxed lyrical about its performance as he set about destroying no doubt thousands of pounds of Pirelli rubber. 

“Yes it’s a supercar, so we expect all that supercar performance – that means a zero to 60mph time of around three seconds, and a top speed of 200mph…”

Whoa there a moment. Is that it? Yes, it’s bright green and looks like its just teleported out of the loading bay of a passing UFO, but all that technology, all that power, all that money and Lambo’s latest machine can only match the performance of a humble 1340cc motorbike.

A few weeks earlier, I’d taken my long term test Suzuki Hayabusa to Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, and after fitting a Yoshimura full system and removing the electronic restrictions in fifth and sixth gear, I was able to hit 198mph with ease. No back wind, no removal of mirrors or bodywork, and no hardcore tuning, just me – a regular rider – and a two-mile straight. And, not just that, but datalogging showed that the Busa got from zero to 60mph in a little over three-and-a-half seconds. No launch control, no four-wheel-drive, not even traction control.

All this from a bike that you can pick up for as little as £4000 (even less for a pre-2008, 1299cc model). You could buy a 45-strong fleet of Busas for the price of one Lambo Huracan. (And, arguably, you’d be happier, because you’d be able to roll around town on your Busa without people shouting abuse at you. Something drivers of fluro-coloured, Italian sportscars experience a lot!)

And I think that’s utterly amazing; a road legal bike that anyone with a full motorcycle licence can buy. There’s no world championship crown for the Busa to chase, no lap records, no sporting glory – the Hayabusa serves no purpose other than allowing normal riders like you and I the chance to reach the kind of top speeds and acceleration forces usually reserved for MotoGP riders (subject to you having access to a two-mile-long runway like here at Bruntingthorpe!)   

And even if you’re not interested in track days and top speed runs, the Hayabusa brings incredible, accessible acceleration to all – whether you’re making a sharp getaway from the traffic lights, or flying down a motorway slip road; the swell of shove from the Busa’s almighty engine, combined with that long and stable chassis, will make even the most gentile of riders feel as dominant as the commander of an Atlas rocket.

It’s powerful, it’s roomy, and it’s really flattering to ride. Plus it’s also capable of touring around Europe in relative comfort and with decent fuel economy – something that definitely can’t be said for the Lambo. What more could any rider want?

For a bike that’s been around, largely unchanged, for 16 years, I think the Busa’s performance is breathtaking. Suzuki stroked the engine 2mm in 2008 to boost the original bike’s capacity up from 1299cc to 1340cc (and its rear wheel output from 162bhp to 172bhp), as well as re-sculpting the cylinder head, fitting titanium valves and honing the crankcase breather system. But other than those tweaks, the basic engine architecture and aerodynamically sculpted fairing has remained the same since the bike was conceived back in 1999. 

The Busa has it all – mighty performance, ease of use, distinctive looks, and all at a brilliant price. It does a better job of being a supercar than most supercars (and, arguably, it’s easier to ride fast in a straight line than most superbikes!)

So, if you fancy a bit of Lamborghini performance but don’t fancy parting with £180,000 big-ones, bag yourself a Busa. Suzuki even do one in bright yellow!

All related reviews