Suzuki Swace Review
This is the Suzuki Swace, and it shares much with the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports. In fact, it shares just about everything with it, as the two Japanese companies joined forces and Suzuki released its own version of Toyota’s popular family car.
But where the Corolla has several trim levels, two engine choices and hatchback, estate and saloon versions, the Suzuki Swace is much more focused. There’s one engine, two trims and it’s estate-only.
The appeal, Suzuki reckons, is that the Swace dispenses with the unnecessary; it gives you everything you need for a practical family hybrid car, but with nothing flashy or unnecessary. And it does so at a price that undercuts Toyota’s offering. Sound good? Then read on...
Select's rating score* - 3.4 / 5
Park the Suzuki Swace next to the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, and you’ll be hard pressed to tell the difference. The bumpers are a bit different, and the badges have been changed, but that’s basically it. The pressing question, then, is why would you lease the Swace over a Corolla? Well, for a start it’s more affordable; not by much, admittedly, but slightly (at the time of writing at least). And it’s slightly cheaper on company car tax if you’re leasing for business. And there are fewer of them on the road, which means you’ll have a bit more exclusivity.
Those are all sensible reasons, and it’s a sensible car. While the Toyota offers more choice and a bit more pizazz, the Swace keeps things to the essentials, with the most efficient hybrid power option and two trim choices – one with the comfortable basics and one with a few extras. It’s not a sexy or sporty car, but it does everything it needs to do, with plenty of space and a comfortable environment for its passengers and affordable running costs.
The Swace is only available in estate form for maximum practicality, with plenty of passenger and luggage space. It’s got an efficient petrol-electric hybrid powertrain that can run for short periods on electric power only, and will reduce fuel consumption over a standard petrol engine. The two trim levels are generously equipped with everything customers expect from a modern car, and few luxury extras too, but without driving the cost up more than necessary. The interior is well-made, and by hopping on to a Toyota product, Suzuki has inherited its fantastic reputation for reliability. All of this suggests a car that shouldn’t give you any ownership headaches. To drive, it’s as sensible as it sounds. There are no pretensions of sportiness; instead you get enough power to make decent progress without stretching the fuel consumption, and handling that errs on the side of comfort. There are also plenty of standard safety features.
Under the bonnet of the Swace is the same 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor combination that you’ll find in the Corolla. It’s a full hybrid, rather than a plug-in hybrid, which means electric power comes from a small battery charged through the engine and the recuperation of kinetic energy from the wheels and brakes. As a result, it can do small distances – a couple of miles at most – onm electric power, rather than the 30-plus miles that a plug-in can do. However, full hybrids are considerably cheaper to lease than plug-ins, and the tech is sufficient to improve fuel economy over a petrol-only car.
With 122 horsepower, the output isn’t particularly dramatic, and it’s best used around town or a genteel canter on faster roads. For many customers, this will be absolutely fine, but it can feel a bit strained if you try and accelerate hard, or have a car fully loaded with passengers and luggage. The automatic gearbox doesn’t help here; it’s actually a piece of tech called a Continuously Variable Transmission, or CVT. Without going into too much detail, it works differently from traditional automatics, and can send the revs sky high when you accelerate hard, which is annoying and can be disconcerting. Most of the time it works well though, and it helps efficiency too. It’s another reason not to work it too hard. Corolla customers have a choice of another 2.0-litre hybrid system, but it’s not available in the Swace.
That advice to take it easy applies to the Swace’s handling too. The suspension is fairly soft, which gives you a pleasantly comfortable ride, smoothing out bad road surfaces well. The steering feels heavy enough to give you confidence through bends and at higher speeds, while still being light enough for around-town manoeuvring. However, the Swace doesn’t feel nearly as agile as a Ford Focus Estate. Keep things to a cruise, and it’s perfectly fine.
Running Costs & Emissions
Leasing costs for the Swace at the time of writing were broadly similar to the Corolla estate – a few pounds per month cheaper, in fact. If you’re leasing for a longer period, however, you may want to note that the Swace has only a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty, versus five years and 100,000 miles on the Corolla.
When it comes to running costs, the hybrid powertrain means pretty decent fuel economy. Officially, the Swace will return up to 64.2mpg, and if most of your journeys are short and/or around town, you could even better that in the real world. However, it won’t be able to match plug-in hybrid rivals, which can drive much further on electric power only, dramatically reducing fuel usage.
For company car drivers, the CO2 emissions of 99g/km mean a 23% benefit-in-kind tax bracket, which is one lower than the Corolla Touring Sports.
The Swace sits in insurance groups 16 and 17 out of 50, which is broadly the same as the equivalent Corolla, so insurance premiums will likely be pretty similar.
The Swace’s cabin is nicely made and feels very solid, and although it doesn’t feel particularly posh or premium, it’s not brittle or cheap either. It is, as you’ve probably guessed by now, almost identical to the Toyota Corolla. Plenty of standard features are included on both trim levels, including a 7.0-inch screen behind the steering wheel, in place of traditional analogue dials. This lets you select which driving information you want to see in front of you. There’s also an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, although it looks outdated compared to the systems in some rivals, and it’s not particularly intuitive to operate either. No sat-nav is available, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, so you can connect up your smartphone and use navigation apps through that instead. There are separate buttons and dials for the air conditioning, which makes it easier to adjust than other cars that insist on burying such controls within the touchscreen menu.
Practicality is a big plus in the Swace; with only an estate version available, you’ve got plenty of passenger and luggage space. There’s more than enough head and legroom in the front and back, and you should easily be able to put three adults on the rear seats. All that said, there are rivals with even more space, most notably the Skoda Octavia Estate.
There’s a big boot in the Swace too. At 596 litres it’ll easily carry a child’s buggy, or a big shop, and have space left over. Once again, the Octavia will give you more space, as well, for example, Kia’s Ceed Sportswagon. However, that’s only in non-hybrid models; both the Ceed and Octavia can be ordered as plug-in hybrids, but the extra batteries they carry cut down boot space dramatically, to 437 litres and 490 litres respectively. That makes the Swace seem extra roomy in comparison.
For general storage there are several very usable cubby holes and trays around the cabin, although the door pockets are rather small. There are two cup holders between the front seats and two more in the fold-down armrest in the back.
The Swace hasn’t been tested by independent safety organisation Euro NCAP. But, as it’s virtually identical to the Toyota Corolla, you can look at the scores from that and be pretty confident they’ll carry over; it scored the maximum five stars when tested in 2019.
Plenty of safety features are included as standard, including a lane departure warning system and automatic emergency braking. Top-spec models also get sensors that alert you to vehicles in your blind spot, and another technology called Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which warns you of oncoming traffic while you’re reversing out of a parking space. All models have front, side, curtain and driver knee airbags and adaptive cruise control, as well as two Isofix child seat mounting points on the outer rear seats.
Suzuki has kept things pretty simple in the Swace, with just two trims to choose from. Both are well-specced, and the ‘entry-level’ model should have enough features for most customers, but there’s a second option if you want a few more niceties.
The basic Swace is the SZ-T, which features 16-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights. Inside you get the full infotainment system with 8.0-inch touchscreen and 7.0-inch digital driver display, as well as dual-zone air conditioning and heated front seats, which can be very useful on frosty mornings. A rear parking camera is included too.
Upgrade to the SZ5 and you’ll get more sophisticated Bi-LED headlights, the extra safety kit mentioned above and front and rear parking sensors to help make manoeuvring easier. A wireless phone-charging pad is added in front of the gear stick, and the steering wheel can be heated at the touch of a button.
Options include a variety of paint colours, and a few accessories like a roof rack and a cargo net. Mostly though, you’re restricted to what’s included in the trims.
Although many customers are wooed more by SUVs than estates these days, there are still plenty of big-booted cars on the market, reflecting the fact that they offer a lot of practicality for the money. Quite a few manufacturers offer hybrid and even electric options too. If you’re not fussed about electrification then check out the Ford Focus Estate, which has a slightly smaller boot but is much more fun to drive, and has a wider range of trims and engines to pick from. In fact, most rivals have more choice than the Swace. The Vauxhall Astra Sport Tourer is also good to drive, but also a bit lacking in interior space.
Skoda’s Octavia Estate is a brilliant all-rounder with huge amounts of room inside and some very attractive pricing. It can be specified with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, which can dramatically decrease fuel consumption, but makes the boot smaller. The Kia Ceed Sportswagon is also worth a look, and is also available as a PHEV, and the Hyundai i30 Tourer has plenty of space inside but isn’t that great to drive.
The Swace is a curious car in several ways. It’s so closely related to the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports that you’d have to ask yourself why you’d go for the Suzuki instead, especially when the Swace has less choice of models. For a lot of customers, that ability to tune their new lease deal to best suit their particular needs will make the Toyota a better choice, and there are plenty of other very talented estates to look at too. That said, the Suzuki’s slight edge in running costs could sway customers away from the Corolla, and those that do take the plunge will find a practical, well-made and reliable machine that won’t cost a fortune to drive.
Where to next?
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Ford Focus Estate
**Correct as of 14/10/2021. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £1,811.07 - Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.