Long-term report: Suzuki Swace – one of the most satisfying cars you can buy

Our six months with a Suzuki Swace have come to an end. James Batchelor sums up his time with it.

That’s it then – six months in the Suzuki Swace are up. The Swace won’t be remembered for being stylish. Was the past half-year a time of thrilling, smile-by-mile fun behind the wheel? Forget it. In fact, you can forget everything to do with dynamics and faddish fashion trends.

Not that the Swace couldn’t entertain me at times. And I even came to admire how its design and specification never demanded attention in a traffic jam. No, what the Swace will be remembered for is a level of attention to detail most normal people crave – nothing fell off, the Swace’s hybrid powertrain never broke down, it was cheap to run, immensely comfortable, and available only as an estate car, wonderfully practical to boot.

Suzuki Swace

Of course, you all know by now that the Swace is little more than a Toyota Corolla minus the Toyota and Corolla badges. So unbothered is Suzuki in trying to disguise the Swace’s parentage, there’s a crude Suzuki badge stuck over the original Toyota one on the boot. Even the same ‘hybrid’ badges are nailed onto the Swace’s front wings as it trundles down the same production line as the Corolla at Toyota’s factory in Burnaston, Derby. Some people who have had a lift to the pub have laughed at this, but I, like Suzuki, couldn’t have cared less.

Its interior forgoes the trend of having screens that wouldn’t look out of place in John Lewis’s electrical department. There’s a nod to style with a swoop or flash here, and a bit of contrasting stitching there, but it’s all well put together. The seat fabric is robust. The switches – ah, yes, it has knobs and doesn’t rely on you having to prod the screen if you want to turn down the heating – all work precisely and satisfyingly, and the seats are extremely comfortable. Even all the trim coloured in various shades of grey doesn’t detract from the interior being a delight to use every day.

The back seats are spacious and the boot can easily swallow everything you’d realistically want to carry normally. For the odd trip to Ikea to satisfy that strange desire to ‘improve’ your home once in a while, the back seats fold down flatly, there are some hidden little cubbies and the boot is well illuminated with long LED strip lighting so you’ll never lose anything in it.

There’s no heated windscreen but the base of the screen where the wipers sit can be warmed up by pressing a button on the dashboard, thereby stopping them freezing to the glass. And the heated steering wheel and front seats quickly thawed me out during some bitter winter mornings. Again, it’s the satisfying practical attention to detail that has made living with the Swace so easy.

Suzuki Swace

The Swace isn’t a fast car. It doesn’t rock powerfully on its suspension when you press the throttle, and should you ask too much from the CVT gearbox you’ll receive a chorus of high revs and noise. But around town it sprints from junctions thanks to its small electric motor, while the whole powertrain does its best to give you electric power when possible for a quiet and relaxing ambience. The steering is surprisingly direct and the handling equally so, but others from Ford and SEAT do this better. In terms of balancing an enjoyable driving experience with efficiency, nothing comes close to the Swace. In six months of driving, I routinely beat the claimed 62.7mpg fuel economy figure – I could even coax high-80s on trips to the Sainsbury’s five miles away from home.

All too often I find myself getting excited about the way a car looks, or the sound it makes, or even the admiring glances it gets in the pub car park, but when living with a Swace you realise this is all meaningless. Sometimes the true satisfaction is having a car that does the job you ask from it with no complaints. In this regard, the Swace is one of the finest cars I’ve ever spent time with.fa

  • Model: Suzuki Swace 1.8 Hybrid Ultra CVT
  • Price: £31,399
  • Price as tested: £31,999
  • Engine: 1.8-litre, four-cylinder hybrid
  • Power: 138bhp
  • Torque: 185Nm
  • Fuel economy: 62.7mpg
  • CO2: 102g/km
  • 0-62mph: 9.4 seconds
  • Top speed: 112mph
  • Mileage: 5,972 miles