By Steve Berry
IF you get a sense of déjà vu when it comes to the Suzuki Swace, then it could be because you’ve seen (and probably admired) the latest Toyota Corolla Touring Sports.
The Swace is the second vehicle to be supplied to Suzuki by Toyota under a collaborative business agreement; the first being the Across, based on the Toyota RAV4.
The Swace is a Hybrid Estate and is manufactured right here in the UK with exports to Europe.
It is virtually identical to its Toyota twin – both outside and in – but there are some subtle differences at the front end.
Suzuki have chosen wisely to duplicate the most versatile and, arguably, the best-looking of the Corolla stable, and so the Swace is not only frugal – thanks to that tried-and-trusted hybrid powertrain – but it looks the part as well as being an incredibly practical family estate.
Suzuki have kept things simple when it comes to a choice of models as there are just two: The Swace SZ-T (from £27,499 OTR) and the Swace SZ5 (from £29,299 OTR).
Both have exactly the same running-gear: a 1.8-litre petrol engine with a power output of 102PS and an electric motor with an output of 53kW and 163Nm of torque, giving a combined maximum power output of 122 bhp, along with a combined fuel consumption of 64.2 mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km. The CVT auto gearbox is also standard.
Outwardly, the Swace stands out with its wide stance, condensed upper body proportions, ﬂared bumpers and rearward-flowing body lines. There are integrated roof rails, a sculpted rear door constructed of lightweight resin to enhance fuel efficiency, and 16-inch alloy wheels. The SZ5 model also gets BI-LED projector headlamps.
The lower-spec Swace SZ-T model includes seven airbags, Dual Zone automatic air conditioning, multimedia audio system, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, rear parking camera and eight-inch centre dash touchscreen. There is also a pre-collision emergency braking system.
The Swace SZ5 adds Smart Door locking, Simple-Intelligent Park Assist, front and rear park distance sensors, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross traffic Alert and centre console tray with wireless charger.
A light and airy feel to the cabin is complimented by good visibility all around and a combination of soft padding and chrome or silver accents highlights the overall quality of the interior.
Finding a good driving position is easy with plenty of adjustment to both seat and steering wheel. It’s good to see both models have driver lumber support fitted as standard – unusual on a car in this price bracket.
The Swace is equipped with an eight-inch multimedia audio system with AM/FM/DAB radio, Bluetooth function, and controls on the steering wheel. The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay for iPhone, as well as Android Auto and MirrorLink for compatible smartphones – which is good because neither Swace model comes with Sat Nav.
The device is fitted nice and high on the central dash and has a number of physical shortcut buttons on either side to make adjustments much easier when on the move, and the climate controls also have physical dials.
The feeling of spaciousness continues to the rear passengers with a generous amount of leg room. Head room is good enough for those just over six feet tall and if you’re carrying three in the back then the middle-seat occupant doesn’t have a large transmission tunnel to contend with.
Just like in the front, there is plenty of storage with decent-sized door pockets and room for both drinks and phones.
The 596-litre boot provides ample room for a variety of luggage – or the usual family jumble. The rear carpeted floorboard can be placed in a lower position to store taller objects and is also reversible with a resin backside for stowing wet or dirty items. The compartment can be easily expanded to provide 1,606-litres of luggage space.
On the road, the Swace’s hybrid system provides a seamless driving feeling with decent acceleration as well as excellent fuel economy and low emissions. The hybrid system optimally drives the Swace with the motor, engine or both depending on driving conditions and I found the whole experience rather relaxing.
There is an air of serenity when zipping along that is missing from many rivals and even with the 1.8 motor running it was relatively quiet, even at motorway speeds. Only harsh acceleration causes the CVT to whine, but once on the move the Swace is a pleasant place to be sat.
The EV drive mode can be used for driving short distances without having to worry about noise or emissions.
The Suzuki Swace offers smooth driving comfort and is surprisingly responsive. Handling is decent thanks to a low centre of gravity and finely tuned suspension. The low bonnet line and location of the hybrid battery beneath the rear seats help give the car its low centre of gravity, reducing body roll around corners and improving stability.
The Swace is equipped with three modes: Normal, Eco and Sport. I tried all three and while the Sport setting did make sharpen up throttle-response, I couldn’t really detect a great deal of difference. I suspect most will leave the Swace in Normal mode as this provides ample acceleration, comfort and economy in any situation.
The Swace, for many, will be a welcome, sleeker alternative to the myriad of SUVs nowadays. Just as practical, just as spacious, probably more economical and certainly better-looking and better to drive than most.
A stylish and welcome return to the family estate which, until September 30, is available to private buyers with £3,000 off the list price of either model. Maybe you should Swace down to your dealership sharpish!
AT A GLANCE: Suzuki Swace SZ5 Hybrid
OTR Price: £29,299
Engine: 1.8 Petrol, Electric Motor
Power: 122 bhp
Transmission: CVT Auto
0-62mph: 11.1 secs
Top Speed: 112 mph
Combined Economy: 64.2 mpg
C02: 99 g/km