Suzuki is one of those car makers that deserves to be more popular than it is.
The company’s excellent Vitara is every bit as good as – and in many ways better than – rivals that sell by the bucketload, such as the Nissan Qashqai and Ford Kuga.
Now along comes a new Suzuki, the Swace. It’s the latest collaboration from Suzuki and Toyota. While the Swace’s sister car, the Corolla, is available in saloon and hatchback forms, Suzuki has opted to offer only the practical estate version.
It also ditches most of Toyota’s engine choices, leaving just one option. Fortunately it’s an excellent petrol-electric hybrid that offers extremely strong fuel economy and low CO2 emissions.
It’s a nice looking car, though Suzuki hasn’t been too radical or daring in its design work. A sharp front end with stylish headlights helps it stand out from the crowd.
Prices start at £27,499 for the lower of the two trim levels offered, called the SZ-T. I spent a week with the higher spec SZ5 version, which cost £29,299. Those costs are a touch higher than the equivalent Corolla model, though with both brands good discounts can probably be negotiated.
The Swace is a well equipped little beastie. All models get dual-zone air conditioning, an eight-inch touchscreen, adaptive cruise control, heated front seats and – impressively – a heated steering wheel.
Spend a little extra on the SZ5 and you’ll buy a rear view camera, wireless phone charger, and safety kit including a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.
Those extras will be nice to have but the standard model is so well equipped that if it was my money that’s the version I would go for.
I had a busy week in my Swace, driving across Scotland and the central belt, and many things impressed me about the car, not least its economy. Officially the Swace will do 64.2mpg. In real world driving most cars never come close to their on-paper figures. The Swace, however, managed 63mpg over my week with it.
That’s remarkable, especially as I wasn’t driving with economy particularly in mind. CO2 emissions are a very low 103g/km, which makes it a tax-friendly company car option.
The 1.8 litre petrol engine is paired with an electric motor for a combined 120bhp. Power is delivered via a CVT automatic gearbox. It’s not particularly quick – 0-60mph takes 10.5 seconds – and nor does it handle with the aplomb of a Ford Focus Estate.
Instead, Suzuki has prioritised comfort. The Swace has a soft, cosseting suspension that made a three-hour round trip as relaxing as such journeys can be. Its smooth ride is complemented by excellent noise insulation. My passenger and I found we could chat as easily at 70mph as we could at 30mph.
The Swace has a small battery and can travel on electric power alone, though only for short distances. This does mean you can negotiate a supermarket car park and even make brief forays into town with the petrol engine barely having to flare into life at all.
The Suzuki Swace’s interior is decked out smartly in dark colours, with an eight-inch touchscreen and – blessedly – old fashioned dials for the heating controls.
Adults won’t feel short changed for space in either the front or the rear. The boot is excellent too, with a wide opening and a capacious 582 litre cargo capacity. That’s more than the Ford Focus Estate can muster, though if space is the absolute priority Skoda’s Octavia Estate can carry 640 litres and has best-in-class passenger space as well.
I had very little knowledge of the Suzuki Swace when I picked up the keys for it. A week later when I handed them back I’d grown very fond of the talented hybrid estate car. It’s good looking, comfortable and exceptionally economical. And being a marriage of Suzuki and Toyota technology, I would also expect it to be exceptionally dependable, too.
Model: Suzuki Swace SZ5
0-60mph: 10.5 seconds
Top speed: 112mph
CO2 emissions: 103g/km