By Mike Torpey on 2022-05-21 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Suzuki Swace 1.8
Hybrid SZ5 CVT
THE arrival of the Suzuki Swace, the second model to be launched as part of a collaborative business agreement with fellow Japanese brand Toyota, begs an interesting question.
Why, given Toyota's reputation for quality, reliability and design plus the company's experience in delivering peerless hybrid vehicles, would anyone opt for the Suzuki rather than the car on which it is based, the Corolla Touring Sports estate?
The answer, of course, is for that very reason - the Toyota is a car of exceptional merit and apart from a slightly different face and the inclusion of LED headlamps on the Swace they are one and the same, built on the same UK production line in Derby.
The Swace, however, is more unique due to Suzuki's plan to only sell 2,000 models in the first full year, it's also competitively priced and is slightly sharper looking anyway.
Dilemmas about choice are kept to a minimum because there's just the one engine available, a 1.8-litre petrol unit driven through a CVT auto gearbox and boosted by a 53kW electric motor for a combined power output of 122bhp.
It's adequate rather than spirited, which is perfectly acceptable for what's essentially a family-focused estate car, taking a sedate 11.1 seconds to hit 62mph from standstill.
More satisfying is the fact that you can run on electric power alone by engaging EV mode, whereby the vehicle is driven solely by its electric motor with power supplied by the battery, albeit for just a few miles before the battery runs dry.
You can also adjust the Swace's performance to suit driving conditions courtesy of three other drive modes - Normal, Eco or Sport.
And as the hybrid set-up is taken directly from Toyota, and used by 15 million drivers worldwide, there's not only the peace of mind attraction but also that of low emissions (78g/km) and fuel economy of an official 64.2 miles per gallon.
We completed more than 500 miles in the Suzuki, much of its on motorways, and returned an immense figure of 61.0mpg.
Interior styling sees a ‘less is more' approach taken inside the Swace with a smart yet simple cabin design that majors on space, comfort and practicality.
So there's ample room for five passengers plus a 596-litre boot with carpeted floorboard that can be placed in a lower position to store taller items and is also reversible with a resin backside for stowing wet or dirty gear.
You can also extend the car's rear into a fully flat space using a lever to fold down the second row seats and create up to 1,606 litres of luggage space, which is cavernous.
Just two trim grades are up grabs - SZ-T and SZ5 - all cars benefiting from dual zone auto air con, heated front seats, rear parking camera, an emergency braking system, eight-inch touchscreen plus multimedia set-up including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Opting for higher spec SZ5 - which costs an extra Â£1,800 - brings in smart door locking, park assist, park distance sensors, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, projector headlamps and a centre console tray with wireless phone charger.
Suzuki Swace 1.8 Hybrid SZ5 CVT
Mechanical: 1,798cc, 4-cyl petrol engine + 53kW electric motor driving front wheels via CVT auto gearbox
Max Speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 11.1 seconds
Combined MPG: 64.4
Insurance Group: 17
C02 emissions: 78g/km
Bik rating: 20%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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