Cars

Suzuki Swace: Accomplished hybrid family estate a smarter choice than an SUV – and cheaper than a Nissan Juke

Suzuki Swace
Suzuki Swace Suzuki Swace

FOR the same money as the funky Juke hybrid, you could instead have this on your driveway - also a hybrid, but this time it's a very useful family-sized estate car which happens to have better fuel economy than the little Nissan, writes William Scholes.

It's a Suzuki Swace, which is offered in two trims. The cheaper of the two is called 'Motion' and costs £29k. It's rather well equipped, with toys like heated seats, wireless Apple CarPlay and adaptive cruise control.

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Push the boat out to the £30,799 'Ultra' and you gain a bunch of safety kit, wireless phone charging and upgraded LED headlamps.

For comparison, the cheapest Nissan Juke hybrid is £28,210, with the range-topping version listed at £31,110. It makes you think, doesn't it?

Suzuki Swace
Suzuki Swace Suzuki Swace

Cars are perennially described as 'getting expensive' but the Suzuki Swace demonstrates that if you look hard enough - and don't have a two-tone Nissan-badged mini-crossover hole in your life - there is indeed value for money to be found.

The Swace is a Toyota Corolla estate with a Suzuki badge. To describe it as 'thinly disguised' would be an insult to thin disguises everywhere. They've replaced the Toyota badges with Suzuki script and given it a different grille. And that's it.

Like the Juke, the Swace/Corolla is a Japanese car built it in England. Jukes come from a factory in Sunderland, while Toyota's plant is at Burnston in Derbyshire.

Suzuki Swace
Suzuki Swace Suzuki Swace

The Swace isn’t the only rebadged Toyota you'll find in your nearest Suzuki showroom. There's also the Across, which is a RAV4 by another name.

These are the fruits of an arrangement which in broad terms sees Suzuki channel its expertise in small cars to help Toyota; Toyota, meanwhile, is lending its hybrid and electrification know-how to Suzuki.

Toyota's door is arguably the best one to knock upon if you need a hybrid boost, given they've been at it just about longer than anyone else. The system in the Corolla has been recently upgraded, meaning the Swace gets it too. Total combined power has gone up from 120bhp to 138bhp, including a beefier electric motor, up from 71bhp to 94bhp, with the 1.8-litre petrol engine contributing 96bhp. (The engine and electric motor don't contribute their respective maximum power at the same time; it's tricky to work out total torque because of the way the car's computer manages its power sources, but the motor's maximum is 136lb ft and the engine's 105lb ft).

Suzuki Swace
Suzuki Swace Suzuki Swace

The Swace and the Juke hybrid are similarly powerful but the larger Suzuki outperforms the Juke in all the other important areas: it's more frugal (62.7mpg v 57.6mpg), emits less CO2 (102g/km v 112g/km), accelerates harder (0-62mph in 9.4 seconds v 10.1 seconds) and, for what it's worth, has a higher top speed (112mph v 103mph).

The fuel consumption is probably the most eye-catching difference. It's borne out in the real world too, with the Suzuki capable of a genuine mid- to high-50s mpg in everyday driving while the Juke was some 10mpg thirstier in the same conditions.

Suzuki Swace
Suzuki Swace Suzuki Swace

While the Juke trades heavily on its idiosyncratic styling, the Swace is a more conventional, long-roofed estate car. There's a certain handsome restraint to it, though. And, let's be honest, estates almost always look better than an SUV, don't they?

It's a practical car too - the boot is, to be imprecise about it, massive (a volume of 596 litres with the seats up, 1,232 litres when folded) and sensibly shaped, with an adjustable floor for a bit of extra versatility. The back seat is spacious, with only a slender 'transmission tunnel' hump in the middle of the floor.

Suzuki Swace
Suzuki Swace Suzuki Swace

There's plenty of room for the driver and front passenger. There's a digital display for the driver and a large central infotainment screen. It's all very clear and easy to operate, solidly built and nicely finished.

Grumbles are few. The steering wheel doesn't feel as nice to hold as some rivals', perhaps. The Swace is notably refined but sudden, sharp acceleration elicits a characteristic wail from a generally unobtrusive CVT transmission as the engine revs shoot up. Calm is quickly restored, but it's a quirk that some may find hard to live with.

Suzuki Swace
Suzuki Swace Suzuki Swace

The Swace majors on being relaxed and comfortable but reveals itself to be surprisingly fun to drive if you want to press on, with a composed chassis, accurate steering and strong brakes.

SUVs and crossovers have come to dominate forecourts, munching up market share from hatchbacks, saloons and family estates. The Nissan Juke is a symbol of this shift. So too is Volvo's decision to stop selling the estate cars with which it has so long been synonymous in the UK.

Suzuki Swace
Suzuki Swace Suzuki Swace

In this context, cars like the Suzuki Swace – and its Toyota Corolla Touring Sports doppelganger – are a reminder of what we're losing; a thoughtfully designed estate makes for a wonderful family car, which is nicer to drive, cheaper to run and more useful than a voguish crossover of similar cost.

The name – Swace – might not make a lot of sense or mean much, but the car wearing the badge certainly does. It comes highly recommended.

Suzuki Swace
Suzuki Swace Suzuki Swace