A stylish Suzuki? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?
Suzukis are always admirable. Superbly engineered and constructed, they have a terrific customer satisfaction record, both for reliability and after-sales service. Suzuki vehicles may be cute (see Jimny); they may be quirky (see Ignis). But stylish? Not likely.
Looking at it outside our house, however, I was filled with admiration for the looks of the new Suzuki Swace. Ever since I first set eyes on a Pontiac Bonneville estate car in the pages of Automobile Year 1958, I have always been a sucker for the classic form of the estate car. That combination of practicality with elegance is hard to beat in car design in my eyes (think Citroen Safari), and the long swooping lines of the Swace’s body fulfil the recipe to a T.
If, however, you think you can detect a playful hint of Toyota around the split-level nose, you should congratulate yourself because the Swace is, in fact, a badge-engineered Toyota Corolla Touring Sports. The radiator grille, the bumpers and the LED lights are different, but the primary reason the Swace is the best-looking Suzuki on the market is that it is a Toyota.
Nothing wrong with that. Adding the strengths of Suzuki’s dealer network and the comparative rarity of its badge to the mighty powers of Toyota might produce a combination that prudent customers with an eye to value would find irresistible. Many of those customers will be fleet managers. With CO2 emissions at 99 g/km, the hybrid Swace offers one of the lowest benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bands. With fuel economy up to 60+ mpg, overall running costs of around 11 miles per pound are attractively low.
For the lucky employee who is offered a Swace, plenty of personal satisfactions and driving rewards accompany those tax benefits. Handling and steering are excellent. The ride is supple and the body is roll-free in corners Responses are keen from the 120 bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine hybrid combo with 0-60 mph in just under 11 seconds. In EV mode, it’s capable of covering about 30 miles.
The family will love the capacious leg and headroom in the full five-seater cabin and appreciate the 600 litres of load space in the boot with the rear seats in place. When I lowered those seats to form a flat platform, the Swace had enough space to take seven full bin bags of paper waste to the dump.
Suzuki definitely has a problem with in-car audio, in my opinion and, while the Swace is not so deficient in this regard as the Ignis and the Swift, the controls on the 8” touchscreen are still a fiddle and the sound quality is not much better than desktop speakers for an average PC.
It would be a mistake, however, to assume that this is Suzuki’s fault. The infotainment system in the Swace turns out to be a direct lift from Toyota.
They should have done better.
Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK’s national stage for 40 years, writing for every “quality” newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 – the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.
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