Japanese maker rejoins the family car market with the badge-engineered Suzuki Swace estate
As with the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports on which it’s based, the Suzuki Swace is a comfortable and frugal estate car that’s relaxing to drive. The Swace does without some of the Corolla’s more luxurious features, but it only offers a minimal financial saving for the sacrifice. Drive a hard bargain at a Suzuki dealer, and the Swace could still be a worthwhile purchase.
If you think the Suzuki Swace looks strangely familiar, you’d be right. Apart from the Suzuki badging, this new estate is virtually identical to the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports.
The Swace is the second Suzuki to copy Toyota’s homework (the first was the Across plug-in SUV) as part of an alliance between the two brands. The partnership should let Toyota benefit from Suzuki’s small-car know-how, while Suzuki gets to make use of Toyota’s hybrid tech. To that end, the Swace is even built in the UK on the same production line as the Corolla.
Cosmetically, what little has changed is mainly at the front: the tweaked bumper gets new grilles and a repositioned logo. Less effort has gone into hiding the car’s origins elsewhere. The hybrid badges on the doors are in Toyota’s typeface, while the Suzuki logo on the boot looks like it’s been glued straight over the top of the Toyota badge. Branded centre caps aside, the standard 16-inch alloy wheels fitted to both Swace trims are the same as those used by the entry-level Corolla Icon.
Inside it’s much the same, too. That’s no bad thing, because the cabin is well built, comfortable and roomy. A Skoda Octavia has the edge for space and quality, though.
Suzuki is only offering the Corolla’s smaller 1.8-litre hybrid set-up in the Swace. The petrol engine makes 101bhp and 142Nm, while the 71bhp/163Nm electric motor either operates alone for short distances or assists the combustion engine for a combined output of 120bhp. Drive is sent to the front wheels through a CVT gearbox.
It’s a unit that does its best work in town, where a mix of light acceleration and gentle deceleration using the regenerative braking allows plenty of urban mileage to be covered in all-electric mode. It’s not unreasonable to at the very least match Suzuki’s official 64.2mpg figure in such areas. If there’s enough charge in the battery, it’s possible to select full EV mode – although once the tiny range is exhausted the petrol unit hums back into life.
At higher speeds, the engine starts to let the side down. Despite the electric boost, it never feels that strong, and hard acceleration causes an unpleasant drone as the CVT gearbox holds the revs at the four-cylinder unit’s 5,200rpm peak output. This aside, the Swace drives sweetly. It’s not fun by any stretch, but it handles tidily and rides smoothly – no doubt helped by the chunky sidewalls of those tyres around 16-inch rims.
The Swace is offered in two trim levels: SZ-T and SZ5. The SZ-T kicks the range off from £27,499, and gets a long kit list that includes LED headlights, heated front seats and steering wheel, a reversing camera, traffic-sign assist and adaptive cruise control.
The SZ5 costs £29,299. It adds blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, plus parking sensors all round, intelligent park assist, wireless smartphone charging and upgraded LED lights.
In terms of spec, these two models rank closely with high-grade versions of the Corolla Touring Sports line-up, although they do without some of the fancy trinkets available to Toyota buyers. Neither version, for example, gets built-in satellite navigation, although the eight-inch touchscreen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in both trims.
The SZ5 is closely matched to the top-spec Corolla Excel, but does without leather trim and has 16-inch alloys instead of 17-inch items. Not vital of course, but the Toyota is only £711 extra, which isn’t much of a difference.
Then there’s the warranty. All Corolla buyers have the peace of mind of five years or 100,000 miles of cover; the Swace only has a five-year/60,000-mile package for the hybrid tech, and just three years on the rest of the car.