Customers opinions matter and in the case of Suzuki they are praising it to the heights.
The Japanese company might be a minnow in the UK but it has been voted top automotive brand for the sixth time running in the Institute of Customer Services satisfaction league table which is useful for the CV when battling for sales against very big players.
The timing could not have been better with Suzuki launching the upgraded Swace estate. This was a car that flew in under the radar because we were all in a state of suspended animation during the Covid pandemic.
It was also confusing for those not interested in car company politics because Swace seemed to be a doppelganger for the Toyota Corolla Touring. The answer is simple, this is a Derby built Corolla estate with a Suzuki badge on the bonnet, oh, and a slightly different front bumper design.
Suzuki has buddied up with its Japanese rival in a quid pro quo partnership where it gets two models in return for helping Toyota get a bigger foothold in India where Suzuki is big, no, make that huge, with 50 per cent of the car market.
The other model is the Across, a Toyota Rav4, but it is Swace that has brought the most new customers to the brand and is all the better for a significant number of upgrades.
The most important fix is engine power. Suzuki has to make do with the 1.8 litre hybrid rather than the 2-litre powering Corolla, but a decent increase in horse power, up from 122 to 140bhp, along with a more powerful 70kW electric motor has taken all but two seconds off the sprint to sixty time with hardly any effect on economy.
Economy is a big part of the Swace story because this is a car easily capable of averaging well over 60mpg. Having not spared the horses on the launch drive neither I nor my driving partner dropped below 57mpg.
The extra power is particularly noticeable in the mid range, taking any stress out of overtaking, the only slight irritation is the build up of engine din, a side effect of the CVT gearbox which hangs on to the revs when a conventional automatic will change up. Steering wheel paddle shifters would settle matters.
Another valuable strength is space. Swace is a mid sized family estate and is well off for legroom front and back with boot space bettering the likes of Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
Quite a lot has happened up front with a redesigned, changeable digital driver’s binnacle, and a new 8in multi media touchscreen with sharper definition. Swace does not get the option of built in navigation but that is not such an issue these days with smartphone navigation apps that can be paired to the central screen.
Two models are offered, Motion (£28,999) and Ultra £30,799) with the standard equipment level pretty generous so both get dual zone automatic air conditioning, heated front seats and heated steering wheel, auto dipping headlights and the up to date type C USB port. Ultra gets front and rear parking sensors, Bi-LED projector headlights and wireless charger on top.
There is an upgraded package of safety features although it is surprising that a blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and safe exit, which warn of approaching traffic or a cyclist if a door is opened, are only available on Ultra. You can’t put a price on safety so they should be standard.
The big question is why buy a Swace when the Corolla has a bigger engine, more specification options and a longer warranty? Well, the Suzuki is around £800 cheaper, does not struggle for power any more, and if you are a fan of the brand provides an economic, low running costs car in one of the biggest selling sectors, so why not?
Swace Ultra CVT Auto
1.8 litre hybrid; 140bhp
0-62mph 9.4secs; 112mph
102g/km. 1st tax £20
Boot: 596-1,232 litres
Insurance group 18