When is a Suzuki not a Suzuki? Read on. The Suzuki Swace is a hybrid powered estate car that bears a striking resemblance to the Toyota Corolla touring/estate. It has the same engine, chassis, gearbox, glovebox… I could go on but lets call a spade a spade… it is a Toyota with a few Suzuki stuck on badges on it. What?! yes Suzuki and Toyota have been pals for some time and share quite a bit globally.
The two Japanese car makers for years have recognised each other’s strengths and weaknesses but more importantly know how to exploit the synergies created by partnering up. Suzuki while literally a small car maker in every sense here in Ireland – in certain parts of the globe its huge and this is is huge and this is why it has linked up with Toyota in a technology partnership. Take India for example, it is a massive car market and Suzuki is a massive player there with up to 45% off the market in certain sectors. Toyota through the partnership can use Suzuki’s low cost manufacturing plants in India but also sell its rebadged cars locally and in to other emerging markets e.g. Africa.
Back in little old Ireland the cleverly named Swace (see what it did there – SW station wagon) allows Suzuki expand its range and sell a car in to the C sector of the new car market and this will see its tiny (and loyal) market share grow in the coming years. The Swace is built by Toyota in the UK and we at Motorhub are particularly fond of th eCorolla in estate guise as it is such a good all rounder. Estate cars in Ireland do not have the same level of support from the buying public as in Europe and make up a mere 10% of the Irish market (circa 50% EU) – but the percentage is growing slowly. The Swace will never sell on good looks but is a handsome enough car that differs from the Toyota Corolla estate thanks to its restyled front end that is quite smart and mildly aggressive looking. Head-on the Suzuki’s grille is nicer to our eyes than the Corolla’s with a more dynamic appearance – and that’s it really for the exterior. At the tailgate there is a Suzuki badge that looks like its been stuck on as can afterthought… the most obvious example of a low cost (lazy) design tweak. Otherwise Suzuki has saved a few bob and left the car as nature or should I say Toyota intend it.
Inside the five-seat cabin Suzuki owners won’t be alarmed as the car features plenty of black and darkish trim but it is a Corolla interior with only a Suzuki badge on the centre of the steering wheel to remind you’re… looking at a Suzuki badge. The Swace’s cabin is very well put together and with seating for five and a good boot the Swace is a refreshingly accommodating family car. The boot holds 596 litres, (the underfloor wheel well can hold a lot). The boot expands to 1,232 litres with the rear seats folded down. The boot is 1,430mm wide, 850mm high and with the rear split folding seats down there is 1,860mm load length available.
Under the bonnet is a petrol hybrid set up. The petrol engine is a four cylinder 102hp 1.8 litre that powers the front wheels though an automatic gearbox (as with all HEV hybrid electric vehicles). The car’s combined power output is 122hp and emissions are a relatively low 103g/km CO2. There are selectable drive modes normal/sport/eco – but these are really something you’ll never use as I found myself using the accelerator alone to suit the driving style I wanted. The car’s hybrid system chooses itself when to run in zero emissions mode and when to charge up its small hybrid battery. The car has no vices and does exactly what it says on the tin. It is easy to drive, reasonable quick, and quite frugal – we achieved impressive average fuel consumption in the low 5 litres per 100km (circa 55mpg – Suzuki quotes an average WLTP figure of 64.2mpg). The hybrid has a 0-100km/h of 11.1 seconds and caravan towers should note the hybrid powertrain means the Swace is only certified to tow a maximum 750kgs (braked/450kgs unbaked).
The Corolla, Octavia, Leon and Ceed estates Suzuki says are its direct rivals. Pricing starts at €30,995 and the car is on sale through Suzuki Ireland’s 24 dealerships. Two models are offered the ‘SZ-T’ and ‘SZ5’. The standard level of kit is excellent and its safety features are impressive. The range topper adds a few more toys but also safety kit like blind spot monitors and a rear cross traffic alert system.