Suzuki Swace review
The Suzuki Swace has genuine family car credentials, but could struggle to stand out among its talented rivals
Smart, savvy customers looking for a well-built, affordable family estate would do well to consider the Suzuki Swace. Sharing the same DNA as the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports is no bad thing, and the partnership between the two Japanese manufacturers means that the Swace offers great levels of comfort and decent running costs due to its shared hybrid technology.
Suzuki has opted not to present too much in the way of luxury with the Swace, but that’s pretty much the point, and it will no doubt appeal to the more pragmatic buyer who’s seeking a frugal family car that offers reliability, space and decent levels of functional kit.
The pull to simply buy the Corolla will be tempting for some, but throw-in the Swace’s adopted good looks and its relative rarity on the road, and it might just sway you away from that next SUV purchase.
About the Suzuki Swace
If you buy a Suzuki Swace, you may find yourself having to deal with people eager to point out that, in fact, your new purchase ‘is just a rebadged Toyota Corolla’. Well, you might say, what’s wrong with that? Unlike Jaguar X-Type owners from the early noughties, who were incessantly teased about their car’s links to the cheaper Ford Mondeo, the Swace isn’t trying to be something it's not.
The Swace does little to hide its association with Toyota’s capable wagon - there’s the obvious badge swap (although the hybrid lettering on the front quarter remains unchanged), an ever-so-slightly different front-end and fresh LED headlights - that’s pretty much it.
As such, the two Japanese estate cars share similar rivals, in the shape of the sharp-handling Ford Focus Estate, the accomplished Korean pair of the Kia Ceed Sportswagon and Hyundai i30 Tourer and the supremely practical Skoda Octavia Estate.
Starting from around £27,500, the Swace is more expensive at first glance than the Corolla Touring Sports it’s based on, although if you factor in Suzuki’s £3,000 ‘customer saving’ contribution it’s actually £1,200 cheaper. All of the competition listed above feature a base model at a lower price than the Suzuki, so setting aside any price incentives from the manufacturer you should still be prepared to haggle hard with your dealer.
With just a single engine option and two trim levels on offer in the Swace lineup, there shouldn’t be any major choice anxiety as to what combination is best for you. The 1.8-litre petrol-hybrid unit, as used in the Corolla, delivers a total output of 120bhp, while all cars are front-wheel-drive and use a CVT automatic gearbox.
The ‘entry’ SZ-T specification brings a decent amount of kit including heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, dual zone climate control, a rear camera and an 8-inch touchscreen with smartphone connectivity. If you can do without the wireless phone charging pad, front and rear parking sensors and the parking assist function of the (£2,000) more expensive SZ5 trim-level, then the Swace SZ-T could be the one to go for.
Engines, performance and drive
Suzuki has kept things simple with the Swace in that there is only one available engine in the model range. Borrowed from the Corolla Touring Sports, the 1.8-litre hybrid set-up consists of a petrol unit producing 101bhp and 142Nm of torque, supplemented with a further 71bhp and 163Nm from the small electric motor, giving a total output of 120bhp.
It is possible to run on electric power alone by switching to EV mode, although we’re only talking about a maximum range of a few miles before the battery runs out and the petrol engine kicks back in to provide drive for the car.
The petrol-hybrid system is best suited to the more moderate speeds associated with urban routes and in-town driving, where the opportunity to use the regenerative braking tech helps to recharge the battery and ekes out extra mileage in electric mode.
You won’t find bucketloads of performance on offer from the Swace 1.8-litre hybrid - it struggles at higher speeds, and if you plant your right foot you experience the rather irritating whine of the CVT auto gearbox letting the revs rise without much impact on velocity. Depending on your point of view, Suzuki may have missed a trick in not offering the 181bhp 2.0-litre petrol-hybrid engine also on offer in the Corolla Touring Sports range.
You couldn’t honestly say that the Swace is a fun car to drive, but it’s a good all-rounder with a decent level of ride comfort and enough dynamic polish for most.
Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
Both 1.8-litre hybrid SZ-T and SZ5 versions offer the same 120bhp power output and performance figures, with 0-62mph reached in a sedate 11.1s and a 112mph maximum speed. This relative lack of pace may put some customers off, particularly as things will probably become worse when the car is fully loaded with all the family and their luggage.
As a quick comparison, the 2.0-litre hybrid version found in the Swace’s Corolla Touring Sports sister car delivers 181bhp and completes the benchmark sprint in a more respectable 8.1s.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
Suzuki has pitched its new Swace Estate just about right in terms of running costs, which means it should be of interest to both retail customers and business users alike. Decent finance and leasing deals are available which could prove enticing for buyers on a strict monthly budget.
Suzuki claims that the Swace will deliver up to 64.2mpg on the combined cycle, with a total range of over 700 miles on a single tank of fuel. On our own test, which included quite a bit of motorway driving, we managed just under 50mpg, so it's not too much of a stretch to think that the Swace could get close to the higher figure - particularly if you were to factor in more urban driving to the overall mix, where the electrical hybrid system is able to provide more assistance and helps to reduce fuel economy.
Perhaps more importantly for company car drivers is that the Swace has CO2 emissions of just 99g/km, which gives it a 23 per cent Benefit-in-Kind rate for 2021/22. The similar Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, with CO2 emissions of 103g/km, has a 24 per cent BiK rating, with the Skoda Octavia Estate range starting from 26 per cent.
You won’t pay too much to insure a Suzuki Swace as the SZ-T model is in group 16, with the SZ5 version just one notch higher in group 17. While this sounds pretty attractive, it’s not quite so appealing when compared to close rivals. The Toyota Corolla Touring Sports with the same 1.8-litre hybrid engine, in either Icon Tech or Excel specification, receives a group 15 insurance rating. The 108bhp Skoda Octavia Estate 1.0-litre e-TEC in SE Technology trim is even cheaper to insure, sitting in group 12.
After a typical three-year/36,000-mile ownership period, owners can expect the Swace to retain around 42 per cent of its original list price. Again, this isn’t too bad a figure in isolation, but when the Swace is matched against the Corolla Touring Sports’ figures of 51-54 per cent over the same period, it becomes clear that you should definitely be looking to secure a decent discount on the list price at your Suzuki dealership to help offset some of the depreciation.
Interior, design and technology
From a quick glance at the exterior you’d be hard pressed to notice a great deal of difference between the Suzuki Swace and the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports. They are, in fact, the same car save for the Suzuki’s redesigned front bumper, brand badging and LED headlights. Both the SZ-T and SZ5 versions come with the 16-inch alloys from the entry-level Corolla, with no option to upgrade to bigger wheels.
The Swace is a smart-looking estate with all cars featuring silver roof rails, body-coloured door handles and rear privacy glass. You won’t find any bright, lurid body colours available for the Swace - Super White paint comes as standard, while other options include silver, blue, black, brown and bronze in a range of pearlescent, mica or metallic finishes.
Inside, the cabin feels well screwed together, with plenty of space. Equipment levels are generous and include climate control, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, a rear parking camera, a 7-inch colour digital information display and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen.
If you opt for the top SZ-5 trim, you’ll benefit from a wireless smartphone charging pad, front and rear parking sensors, an Intelligent Parking Assist function, BI-LED projector headlights and extra interior lighting.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The Swace’s infotainment tech can’t compete with the better systems of its close rivals. The eight-inch screen is easily visible from its location high up on the dash, but the graphics look fussy and dated. Even the physical controls around the screen – normally a good thing – are small, fiddly buttons, which take a conscious glance at to work properly. The menu layouts aren’t particularly intuitive, either, so making use of your smartphone connectivity and individual features is probably the best way forward.
Built-in navigation isn’t available on either Swace trim level, but fortunately the smartphone integration means the clunky proprietary interface can be skipped in favour of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The system’s main menu has shortcuts to the audio functions, phone connectivity and a hybrid-system monitor. This shows real-time data of how energy is flowing to and between the petrol engine, electric motor and battery. The screen responds reasonably quickly to touches, but loading times are a little slow.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Swace is by no means the family estate class leader, but it does provide a comfortable, practical alternative to the norm. It benefits from being built on the same production line as the reliable Corolla and should bring enough functionality and usefulness for most households.
Although the Swace doesn’t offer luxuries such as leather upholstery or any upgraded premium audio set-ups, it still includes enough kit to make for a pleasant journey. The heating functions for the front seats and steering wheel are joined by climate control, radar cruise control and a rear parking camera, while the steering wheel adjusts for both reach and rake to help you find the most comfortable driving position. The rear seats also fold completely flat in a 60:40 configuration which adds to the car’s flexibility, and is a particular bonus when ferrying around kids and bulky items of luggage.
With exterior dimensions of 4,655mm (h), 1,790mm (w) and 1,460mm (h), the Swace is just 5mm longer than the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, with overall width and height remaining the same.
In further comparison to the Skoda Octavia Estate, the Czech wagon is a little longer and wider, at 4,689mm and 1,829mm respectively, while also standing a bit taller at 1,468mm.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
The driver and passengers shouldn’t want for any extra space in the cabin, with decent levels of head and legroom. Three adults are able to sit in relative comfort across the rear seats.
The ability to carry large, bulky items is key for a family estate car. The Swace offers a 596-litre boot with a wide, practical opening, although it loses out to the Skoda Octavia’s 640-litre load space. The Ford Focus Estate provides 575 litres, with the Hyundai i30 Tourer at 602 litres and the Kia Ceed Sportswagon closest to the Octavia with 625 litres of luggage space.
The hybrid set-up of the Swace means that its braked trailer towing ability is limited to 750kg, whereas rivals from Ford, Skoda, Hyundai and Kia are all rated at either 1 tonne or over.
Reliability and safety
If there’s one advantage to a partnership with Toyota and the introduction of a badge-engineered car, it’s that you can be pretty confident it will prove to be reliable.
The Suzuki Swace is too new to have appeared in our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, although its Toyota Corolla twin finished in 7th place out of 75 cars which should go some way to reassuring customers thinking of buying a Swace. Suzuki itself placed 17th out of 30 manufacturers in the Best brands poll, beating some premium car makers such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
EuroNCAP hasn’t yet crash tested the Swace, but again the comparable Corolla received a full five-star rating, with an excellent 95 per cent score for adult protection and 84 per cent for child safety.
Standard safety kit for the Swace is equally impressive and includes radar cruise control, Road Sign Assist, a lane departure warning, a vehicle sway warning and lane centering and steering assist functions. Top-spec SZ5 versions add a Blind Spot Monitor and a rear cross traffic alert.
Suzuki provides a standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty, although there is the option to extend this with Suzuki’s Basic, Select and Comprehensive cover offered at extra cost. Toyota supplies a five-year/100,000-mile warranty, which is worth remembering if you plan on keeping your car over a longer period.
Servicing your Suzuki shouldn’t be too expensive, and the manufacturer provides tailored plans to help reduce the cost of scheduled maintenance. You can choose to pay a lump sum upfront, or break the total cost down into monthly payments.