On occasions in a partnership, one side gains more than the other and you cannot but fail to reach that conclusion with the car coming under the Drive NI microscope here.
Based on Toyota’s Corolla Touring Sport, pretty much everything that appears on Suzuki’s Swace equivalent is the same, right down to the hybrid lettering on the front quarter. The only real giveaway between one and the other is the oval badge making way for a single S.
This swap has been neatly executed on a bold nose set off by angular headlights and L-shaped DRLs. A less successful job has been performed on the boot-lid where it strikes you as having been an afterthought. And a rushed one at that.
Visually then, the Swace is a doppelganger of the Corolla on the outside – a theme that continues on the inside and also underneath the skin where a pleasingly efficient and convincing petrol-electric hybrid powertrain nestles.
First introduced to the Northern Ireland market in the final quarter of 2020, the Swace has been up-dated for 2023. The changes are said to have enhanced safety and equipment specification on a car sold in seven colours and a choice of two specifications: entry-level ‘Motion’ and plusher ‘Ultra’.
Kicking off at £26,795, the Swace shades the Toyota yet is every bit as good in the areas that matter, especially practicality thanks to a commodious 596-litre boot that has no load lip because of a height adjustable floor.
Whichever Swace model you choose, you aren’t shortchanged. A reverse parking camera, 7-inch LCD driver binnacle with ‘energy monitor’, an 8-inch multimedia touchscreen that is far from the easiest to navigate, dual-zone climate control and front heated seats are a few of the niceties. For good measure, build quality is reassuringly solid and most – but not all – of the materials are nice to the touch.
Spacious and capable of ferrying four adults in a hushed cabin that is well insulated from road and wind noise, the Swace is blessed with a comfortable ride that is soft enough to soak up the worst potholes and speed calming measures but not to the point of diluting the fun factor.
Sitting on 16-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels, this is an easy car to drive in town, through the country or along a motorway, and thanks to some dynamic polish it is enjoyable as well. What really comes into its own in all three of these environments is the 1.8-litre hybrid and seamless shifting CVT gearbox, both developed and supplied by Toyota.
Power for the face-lifted model is 15% greater and takes the headline figure to120bhp. True, you aren’t going to win many races as 62mph arrives in 11.1 seconds but you will triumph at the pumps.
Suzuki quotes 62.7mpg and despite struggling to match that during a week of solid driving, the Swace certainly did not disgrace itself as we consistently achieved low- to mid-50mpg. A word of warning, however: add more people and/or recreational items into the mix and you should expect this to drop.