Suzuki’s hybrid estate has been updated for 2023, and it’s better than ever…
When the Swace was launched in 2021, it was the second fruit of a collaboration between Suzuki and Toyota. The first was the Across (a badge engineered Toyota RAV4 plug-in hybrid).
As you can see from the pictures, the Swace is a Suzuki-branded Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, and the pair are both manufactured at the Japanese giant’s plant at Burnaston, Derbyshire.
Fast forward two years and the Corolla and Swace have been treated to a mild makeover and technical upgrade.
The Swace’s refresh is subtle, to say the least. The front end has a slightly tweaked grille, lower bumper and headlight design, while there are new LED tail lights and a revised lower rear bumper which creates the illusion of twin exhausts.
The more significant changes are under the bonnet and technological.
As before, the Swace shares a 1.8-litre petrol hybrid engine with the Corolla. The updates, however, improve power by 15% from 118bhp to 138bhp, bringing the 0-62mph sprint down to 9.4 seconds, yet maintaining the car’s high fuel and emissions efficiency.
More importantly, it seems to have extended the Swace’s capacity for electric-only running (ie shutting down the petrol engine when coasting, braking and during low speed driving).
The green EV icon was lit up in the driver’s display much more than I expected, and once you get used to the hybrid system, you find yourself making a real effort to charge it up as much as possible via regenerative braking.
Officially, the Swace is capable of an impressive 62.7mpg, yet I managed a best of 71.5mpg and achieved an average of 54.5mpg without trying, while CO2 emissions are as low as 102g/km.
The extra power is noticeable and delivers a more rewarding drive. However, the Swace is still fitted with a CVT gearbox which puts you off more spirited jaunts because the revs soar if you’re heavy with your right foot, creating a temporary din in the cabin.
But don’t let that put you off. Best suited to a relaxed driving style, but it’s still a very clever and efficient full hybrid system which switches seamlessly between engine and electric power.
The Swace handles well too, with a smooth ride and controlled body roll in faster corners. There’s good overall grip, while the steering is light and precise.
There are also three drive modes – Eco, Normal and Sport. Normal provides the best balance between economy and performance, Eco is best for urban trips, while Sport sharpens up the throttle response for more adventurous runs.
Inside, the Swace offers space for five with enough head and legroom for six-footers in the back. What’s more, there’s 596 litres of boot space (expandable to 1,232 litres if you drop the back seats).
The interior’s only downside is that the Swace is fitted with Suzuki’s own 8.0-inch infotainment system in the centre console. Unless you hook it up to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto via your smartphone, it’s really only a radio/audio player, plus very limited vehicle info (ie trip/economy data) and no built-in sat nav.
More information and functionality can be found in the 7.0-inch digital driver’s display via the multi-function steering wheel, but it was a tad disappointing.
Elsewhere, materials and build quality are good, but nothing special.
Starting at £28,999, there are now just two well-equipped trim levels – Motion and Ultra.
Entry-level Motion includes heated front seats, heated steering wheel, a rear parking camera and Dynamic Radar Cruise control.
The new Ultra grade adds updated Bi-LED projector headlights, Safe Exit Assist, Smart Door locking, Front and Rear Park distance sensors, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross traffic Alert, interior ambient lighting, and a centre console tray with wireless charger.
Ultimately, it’s a close-run thing between the Swace and Corolla Touring Sports. The Suzuki’s a little cheaper, but the Toyota edges it on infotainment tech.
Both have a standard three-year/60,000 miles manufacturer warranty, but the Toyota’s can be extended to up to 10 years/100,000 miles if the car is serviced at a Toyota dealer. That said, Suzuki dealers have a superb reputation when it comes to customer service. So, swings and roundabouts.
Verdict: Sleek, safe, spacious, economical and easy to live with, the refreshed Suzuki Swace should definitely be on your shortlist if you’re in the market for an affordable family estate.