YOU'D have to be living somewhere deep underground to be unaware of a general belt-tightening.
Times are tough - dearer mortgages, heating costs going up and double digit inflation. That's why budget supermarkets are booming.
So it's no wonder car buyers are looking at ways to slash the bills. And the manufacturers are responding...
Take the updated Suzuki Swace - yes, an odd name but don't let that bother you.
A family estate with an accent of economy and practicality, it's the blood bother of the highly praised Toyota Corolla hybrid, and it's just been updated with a useful injection of extra power, up 15 per cent to 140bhp.
Despite the added punch, the roomy five-door estate is one of the few petrol family-sized models that you genuinely get 60-plus mpg in everyday driving.
Like the Corolla, the Swace is a full self-charging hybrid with a 1.8litre petrol engine that pushes out 97bhp, supported by a 70Kw electric motor, increased from 52Kw. The result is instantly noticeable and gives the estate car that added impetus for nippy overtaking when needed.
Of course, there are a few minor cosmetic tweaks incorporated in the latest version - extra safety equipment, refreshed styling and upgraded multimedia. Happily, the extra pace has done little to diminish the economy or affect the modest emissions of 102g/km.
Suzuki has also adopted a new model structure so the two versions available are Motion and topline Ultra. Price for the entry version £28,999 and the Ultra costs £30,799.
The lower cost Motion includes LED rear lights, duel zone air con, rear parking camera, heated front seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so a decent level of basic kit. The Ultra adds smart door locking, front and rear parking sensors and centre console with phone charger.
Sleek looking, with a certain restrained elegance, the Swace is one of the roomier mid-size estates with good legroom front and rear and impressive cargo space. The low-set rear platform can soak up almost 600 litres are luggage with a secret compartment beneath the floor to house any valuables. Rear seats fold flat in a 60-40 format.
Fascia design is a tad old-school and lacks some of the flair of European rivals, but it's well made and good quality materials are used.
Unsurprisingly, the revamped version drives similarly to the earlier model except with extra urge which is a welcome positive. 62mph now comes up in 9.2 seconds, almost two seconds quicker, so the added punch is easily noticeable.
Like the Corolla, the Swace gets a CVT gearbox which provides effortless automatic changes, but feels somewhat tiresome as the revs continue to rise under full acceleration. This apart, noise levels are generally low.
While it's no sports car, it nevertheless feels well planted and is happy to be hurried through tight bends and sweeping curves alike. Steering lacks much feedback but is positive enough. Three driving modes are available - normal, eco and sport.
Well screwed down and impressively economical considering its performance, the latest Swace is a car that's definitely right for the current times.