Getting a new car is exciting, deciding which one can be a headache.
Which is the best body shape, best engine; do you go for electric? Then there are the various trim levels and those pricey option packs. I’m getting stressed just writing about it.
But what if there was a ‘one size fits all’ car. Give a big hand folks to the Suzuki Swace, one body (estate) one engine size, so need for a spread sheet and a pack of aspirin.
Car spotters will notice a remarkable resemblance to the Toyota Touring Sports which, apart from a different front bumper and light signature, is its twin. Suzuki has teamed up with its Far Eastern friend in a quid pro quo collaboration where it gets two models in return for help in the Indian market where Suzuki rules the roost.
Against the Corolla with its three body styles, two engines and five trim levels the Swace is a bit like a pack of cards without the Ace, king and queen, but along with the big Across SUV, a carbon copy of the Toyota Rav4, it gives the brand more numbers on the road.
There is no shame in sticking a Suzuki badge on the bonnet of a Corolla because the Derby built Toyota is a damn fine car with a proven record for quality and reliability so why not fill your boots.
Suzuki has chosen to take the 1.8 litre petrol hybrid rather than the meaty 2-litre hybrid which could spoil its chances for customers wanting a bit of performance. A sprint to sixty in around 11 seconds is a tad pedestrian these days but the flip side is lower emissions than many rivals and excellent economy, in fact in town driving it is often the electric motor that does the work.
Suzuki claims an average of 64.2mpg and matching that is possible. The delivery driver topped 61mpg on his 160 mile journey, most of which was motorway, while my week’s driving mix returned a credible 57mpg.
Like Corolla the gearbox is the automatic CVT transmission which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea with its mildly annoying whine under acceleration that becomes noisy when pushed to the rev limit. To be fair flat out acceleration is not really the name of the game, so not something to trouble mum, dad and the children on a trip to the seaside.
And Swace is a good family car. There is room aplenty for three in the back and while boot space is not class leading it is up there with the best. The tailgate opens to a wide unobstructed flat floor with the seats down and there is an option to lower the floor for a bit more carrying capacity.
There are just two trim levels and the entry SZ-T is not left wanting with dual zone automatic air conditioning, heated front seats, heated steering wheel and rear camera among the highlights.
Moving up to SZ5 adds keyless entry, park assist, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot and rear cross traffic alert, auto dipping LED headlights and a wireless charging pad for a mobile. Doing without these will save £1,800.
There is no onboard navigation but this can be remedied by linking a mobile phone directions app to the eight inch touchscreen via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The screen sits high in the centre of the dashboard, is easy to see and has short cut buttons. The layout is functional rather than fancy but easy to use and heating controls are separate which is always a bonus. The quality of trim is good with a mix of spongy plastic and soft touch fabric.
Driving Swace is neither exciting nor boring, somewhere in the middle, with decent grip should you want to push on. I took a turn in the back to see how the other half live and found the suspension a little unforgiving over poorer surfaces and particularly potholes where the thump goes through the spine.
In reality Swace has a mountain to climb against its Corolla cousin let alone a host of top notch rivals, but here’s the thing. If your ideal motor is a 1.8 litre hybrid estate with a good spec, space for five, low running costs, enviable reliability and with a badge less common than a Toyota, Ford or Volkswagen, then why not give this jack of all trades a whirl.
Swace SZ5 CVT auto
£26,299 (SZ-T £24,499)
1.8 litre + electric motor 122bhp
0-62mph 11.1secs; 112mph
99g/km. VED £135
Boot 596-1232 litres
Insurance group 17