Suzuki Swace estate review
"The Suzuki Swace is a practical and affordable family estate but it’s hard to see why you would buy one over the Corolla on which it’s based"
- Low running costs
- Easy to live with
- Big boot
- Shorter warranty than Corolla
- Struggles as higher speeds
- Lack of choice
Verdict - is the Suzuki Swace a good car?
At face value, the Suzuki Swace seems like a no-brainer, being a less expensive, yet virtually-identical version of the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate car on which it’s based. However, scratch beneath the surface slightly and there are several compromises that could make the circa-£1,000 saving not worth it. Missing out on the Corolla's larger 10.5-inch touchscreen, extra powertrain option and up to 10-year warranty, the Swace is a clear example of how initial savings aren’t the be-all and end-all.
Suzuki Swace models, specs and alternatives
The Suzuki Swace is a hybrid family estate that's almost a carbon copy of the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports, thanks to an alliance between the Japanese manufacturers. It's a rival to models like the Ford Focus Estate, SEAT Leon Estate and Skoda Octavia Estate, offering the low running costs of a hatchback but with extra space created by the elongated boot.
Exterior changes for the Swace-badged car are minor, with the front bumper and grille getting a new look to make them more Suzuki-like. Elsewhere it's the definition of a rebadging exercise, with the same wheels as the Corolla but with Suzuki logos in the middle and a badge on the boot that almost looks as if it’s been pasted over the Toyota logo.
This hasn’t changed much for the facelifted version that arrived in spring 2023, which is almost identical in appearance to before, except for some changes to the rear bumper design.
It's a similar story inside, where the dashboard, instruments and infotainment have been transplanted almost entirely. Of course, there's a Suzuki logo on the steering wheel, and the transfer from Toyota isn't exactly a bad thing anyway; the manufacturer is renowned for its hard-wearing cars. There are fewer trims for the Swace, with the entry-level Motion getting a heated steering wheel and seats, as well as an eight-inch touchscreen. The Ultra probably won't be necessary for most buyers but adds handy features like LED headlights, all-round parking sensors and a wireless smartphone charging tray.
Just one hybrid powertrain is offered in the Swace, which is the same tried and trusted 1.8-litre self-charging hybrid setup that’s found in the base Toyota Corolla. Here it’s just as economical, returning well over 60mpg, and ideally suited to town driving. For 2023, power has been bumped up to 138bhp (up from 120bhp), although it’s a shame the Swace isn’t also offered with the larger 2.0-litre 193bhp setup that’s available as a range-topper in the Corolla.
The Swace is slightly cheaper than the Corolla but it feels it, and the price difference on paper probably isn’t big enough for us to recommend buying the Suzuki-badged version over the Toyota – especially when you consider Toyota provides a longer warranty lasting for up to 10 years, compared to the three years of cover offered by Suzuki. Haggle with your Suzuki dealer to reach a lower price and the Swace becomes more worthy of consideration.
MPG, running costs & CO2
While the Corolla Touring Sports is available with two hybrid powertrains, Suzuki has opted to keep it simple and affordable by only offering the 1.8-litre version. This is a well-proven setup that's known for its efficiency; it has even historically been shared with the legendary, but now discontinued, Toyota Prius
Here, the combination of a 1.8-litre petrol engine, electric motor and small battery gives the Swace fuel economy of up to 62.7mpg, along with CO2 emissions of 102g/km. This is on a par with the figures you'd normally associate with an efficient diesel engine but because the Swace doesn’t have one, it also boasts lower NOx emissions and doesn't require any AdBlue top ups.
Business drivers will find the Swace sits in a lower Benefit-in-Kind band than most purely petrol and diesel models – you'd really need a plug-in hybrid or fully-electric car to get much lower – and it costs a slightly discounted annual rate in VED (road tax). The Swace sits in insurance groups 17 and 18, depending on which trim level you choose, meaning it should be relatively inexpensive to insure, too.
Engines, drive & performance
The Suzuki's 1.8-litre petrol engine produces 96bhp, while the electric motor makes 94bhp; a combined maximum of 138bhp can be sent to the front wheels at any one time. Compared with the pre-facelift model, this means the electric motor is just over 20bhp more punchy. The gearbox is an automatic CVT and the 0-62mph sprint takes 9.4 seconds; the old 120bhp variant took 11.4 seconds, an improvement that makes a big difference from behind the wheel. We rarely felt like the 2023 Swace was lacking power, unlike the pre-facelift car.
It's a setup that's happiest when driving around town, where the electric motor can do its best work, both helping the car pull away and recuperating energy when slowing down. There's a full EV mode but the small battery only provides range for around a mile of driving, so it's best reserved for car parks, city centres or heavy traffic.
At higher speeds, the powertrain is less convincing because, even with the boost of the electric motor, the Swace never feels particularly fast – although the recent update certainly improves matters. Push too hard on the accelerator pedal and there's also a drone from under the bonnet as the CVT gearbox keeps the engine at high revs. The Swace drives well enough in other respects; the ride is smooth and the handling is neat enough. However, we did find the steering could let the car wander slightly at motorway speeds.
Interior & comfort
Inside, the Suzuki Swace is virtually identical to the Corolla Touring Sports – the two models are even built on the same line at Toyota's Burnaston plant in Derbyshire. That's not really a bad thing; the Corolla has a sturdy and well-designed dashboard, while the seats are comfortable but relatively flat, which goes to show Suzuki doesn't expect Swace drivers to be attacking corners. New for 2023 is a seven-inch digital instrument cluster that can change its appearance depending on which drive mode you’re in, ultimately helping the cabin feel a bit more modern.
The standard-fit eight-inch infotainment screen is perched on top of the dashboard, so it's fairly close to the steering wheel and it has some physical keys and knobs to make it easier to use. While it does come with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, it’s a shame the Suzuki doesn’t get the Toyota’s larger 10.5-inch display; this has much more of a wow-factor and utilises the brand’s latest software, which is quicker to respond and easier to operate.
Even the entry-level Motion trim gets the aforementioned eight-inch touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. There's also a reversing camera and adaptive cruise control for added safety and convenience. The Ultra trim costs around £1,800 extra and adds features like front parking sensors, a wireless charging tray, LED headlights, ambient lighting and self-parking, along with some added safety tech.
Practicality & boot space
Room in the front of the Swace is good, with both the steering wheel and driver's seat offering plenty of adjustment. The rear seats aren't quite as spacious, so tall passengers may find their hair brushing the headlining.
The boot measures 596 litres behind the rear seats, extending to 1,232 litres with them folded down. That can't quite compete with the Skoda Octavia Estate, which has a 640-litre boot, partly thanks to its boxier proportions. The Swace does have some clever features, such as a reversible boot floor with carpet on one side and an all-weather resin surface on the other. This can also be put into a lower position for carrying taller objects, or left at its raised level to make sliding objects in and out of the boot easier.
Unfortunately, the Swace's hybrid powertrain does limit its abilities as a towing vehicle. It can only haul a 750kg braked trailer, which rules out most caravans. If the trailer has no brakes, its weight is limited to 450kg.
Reliability & safety
Suzuki and Toyota share a good reputation for building reliable, sturdy cars, so there shouldn't be too many alarm bells as a result of the partnership. In fact, in our 2022 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of the 29 top brands, Toyota did rather better overall than Suzuki, with the two manufacturers coming in tenth and 21st places respectively.
The Swace might not have been crash tested by Euro NCAP yet but it's good to know the Toyota Corolla was awarded five stars in 2019 because the two cars share the same crash structures and technology. Safety equipment is generous, including standard traffic-sign recognition, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and 'E-Call' that can alert the emergency services if the car is in a severe collision. Upgrading to the Ultra trim does add some safety features, including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, designed to make reversing out of parking spaces less dangerous.
For the 2023 refresh, Suzuki also added a Safe Exit System that warns occupants if they are about to open a door into the path of an approaching car or cyclist. Also new is a system to monitor the driver’s attention and warn them to take a break if necessary.