Suzuki Swace long-term test

The Suzuki Swace hybrid is one of those cars that seems to slip under everyone’s radar, but we think it might be a bit of a hidden gem. We’ve decided to run one to find out for sure...

LT Suzuki Swace hello

The car Suzuki Swace 1.8 Hybrid SZ5 CVT Run by Mark Pearson, used cars editor

Why it’s here The Swace offers up some impressively high fuel economy figures on paper. We want to see if it can live up to those in real-world use

Needs to prove It’s more than just a practical and economical wagon. It’ll need to dispatch commuting, work and family life with flair and cope with a wide variety of everyday duties 

Mileage 4702 Price £29,299 Target Price £28,941 Price as tested £29,899 Dealer Price now £25,238 Private price now £22,433 Official economy 64.2mpg Test economy 56.5mpg Running costs excluding depreciation £397 (petrol)

22 November 2022  Time and Swace wait for no man

My first report on the Suzuki Swace highlighted the fact that the general public had no idea what it was and now, at the end of our time together, I can tell you that the same still holds true. Indeed in my time with it, I don’t think I ever saw another one. But don't go thinking that's a bad thing.

You see, the Swace was launched two years ago in a blaze of obscurity, and I think its inconspicuous nature is great, because it means that when people ask me at dinner parties what car I'm driving, I can tell them it's a Swace, and watch in delight as their faces fall in total bemusement. 

Suzuki Swace LT

Don’t get me wrong, though. It might have a little-known name and be rather conventional-looking on the surface, but underneath it's a very well-sorted and thoroughly likeable estate car. It's good to drive and impressively refined, for starters. It's also spacious, comfortable and well-equipped. And I found it swift enough for everyday duties and very economical. 

Suzuki Swace LT

How economical? Well, at the end of my tenure, the digital readout told me my overall average was 62.4mpg, which is not far off the official figure of 64.2mpg. My own calculations, arrived at by brimming the tank and noting the mileage, suggest 56.5mpg is nearer the mark overall, but that’s still an impressive figure for a petrol-powered car of this size and weight – albeit one assisted by an electric motor.

Suzuki Swace LT

Its abstemious nature pleased me, but not as much as its temperature controls. As someone who suffers – mostly in silence, of course – from a constantly swinging internal thermometer, I can be sweat-inducingly hot one minute and bone-numbingly cold the next. I was grateful, then, for the Swace’s rotary dials that control the temperature settings for the climate control.

Thanks to those, I could turn the temperature up or down with enormous haste. Many new cars require you to navigate through a hard-to-fathom touchscreen or use difficult-to-locate sliders or buttons to achieve the same results, often in circumstances that mean taking your eyes off the road. 

It was the traditional approach to these controls, as well as to its instruments generally and its interior furnishings and even its overall design, that sums up all what I liked most about the Swace. It was an uncomplicated car, one that was easy to jump into and drive away. True, it has many competent rivals, but some of them can feel like they’re trying too hard to be either too modern and on-trend, or unnecessarily sporty and overly sophisticated. 

Suzuki Swace LT

My few gripes with the Swace were largely trivial. The socket I plugged my phone lead into to access Apple CarPlay was in an oddly inaccessible place under the dash on the passenger side. The Swace doesn’t come with sat-nav, so I often needed to mirror Waze or Google Maps from my smartphone to the car's screen to get directions or traffic info, and that stretch could be a nuisance. 

I also had to remember to flick the floor-mounted fuel-filler cap unlock switch before getting out of the car at a petrol station to fill up, which I could have done without. On top of that, the seat had a nasty and inaccessible ratchet-style lever for adjusting the backrest rather than, you guessed it, a nice rotary knob. Maybe Suzuki gave up on the rotary idea after its success with the air-con controls.

Suzuki Swace LT

Those issues are very minor, though, and on the whole, I think the Swace is a peach. It’s cheaper than the equivalent Toyota Corolla Touring Sports (which is almost identical), and comes with more standard kit. True, you’d only get a three-year warranty rather than up to 10 years with Toyota, but according to our own What Car? Reliability Survey, reliability isn’t an issue with either car so it’s unlikely you’d be missing out on much there.

And, as a final bonus, you’d be unlikely to end up parked next to another one in the supermarket car park. 

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