Suzuki Swace

suzuki swace 2023 review 001 cornering front
Badge-engineered hybrid wagon gets an overhauled petrol-electric powertrain and extra standard equipment

Dimples: those of the “aww, isn’t he cute, Granny” variety. Dimples may be the easiest way to spot this badge-engineered, estate-only version of the Toyota Corolla, the Suzuki Swace, from the car with which it shares a Derbyshire production line.The Swace has little cut-outs at the lateral extremes of the front bumper that look like they should route cooling air to the brakes but are actually just styling affectations; the Corolla doesn’t.There are other ways. Suzuki’s decided to pitch its car – which has just been updated for the 2023 model year – at the lower end of the wider Corolla’s model range as a value offering. So you can have the Swace with only wee-looking 16in alloy wheels and the 1.8-litre hybrid powertrain. Also, it says ‘Swace’ on one side of the bootlid.Still, if you really do want winning-at-life fuel economy out of a car like this and don’t mind looking a bit like an Uber driver, those things shouldn’t bother you. This is a practical, sub-£30k wagon with lots of boot space for airport runs that will do a dependable 60mpg and hardly less in town. And it’s cheaper than the equivalent Corolla Touring Sports by about 5%. Why should it only be private-hire drivers interested in a car like that?An update for the hybrid powertrain is the main driver of the Swace’s dynamic improvements. A lighter battery and a more potent electric motor have caused power to jump from 118bhp to 138bhp and torque to rise by a similar amount. That has brought 0-62mph sprint potential below the 10sec barrier. But perhaps more importantly, it has also extended the capacity for electric-only running – how often and for how long the petrol engine can shut down while maintaining decent urban performance and drivability.The Swace really is surprisingly good at ekeing out the power in its new battery in urban running and then topping it up quickly – and that means better real-world efficiency for you.Outright performance has improved a little bit, and you will be glad that it has when you have motorway accelerating or overtaking to do, but the hybrid system’s style of delivery makes this a car that you’re much more likely to drive gently most of the time.Refinement is much improved when you adopt a gentle pace, and there’s now plenty of part-throttle response when you just want to accelerate a little bit. So picking up speed needn’t be tortuous, and seldom do you feel like you’re thrashing the car for very little gain. But there’s still little reward or enjoyment in doing it. No changes have been made to the suspension or steering, and none were really required. The Corolla hit on a really well-judged ride and handling compromise when it arrived in 2019, and Suzuki hasn’t messed around with it for the sake of a point of difference. So the Swace rides quietly and comfortably and handles well enough to feel more balanced and composed than it really needs to be, even on those 16in wheels. It has an absorbent sort of chassis and steering that’s light but accurate and intuitively paced.The 2023 update has also brought a new infotainment system for the car, with crisper-looking graphics and fresh software. A lesser system with a smaller touchscreen than even the cheapest Corolla gets, it looks a bit lost within its thick frame, and it doesn’t offer sat-nav at all, nor much in the way of networked functionality. But if you’re happy to use your smartphone as your guide (wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto feature as standard), it will do a decent job.Prices for the new entry-level Motion model start at £28,999, and you really needn’t bother spending any more.This is a functional, easy-driving, practical compact estate that offers economical family motoring into which you won’t have to invest much effort or thought. It’s singularly unexciting but can be absolutely depended upon to simply work.
Source: Autocar

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