Just over two years ago, I first had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the Swace, an attractive, sports style estate which has come about as the result of an arrangement between Suzuki and Toyota. In fact, on a number of occasions I encountered people who, at first glance, thought I was driving a Corolla; for sure I did get noticed during my test period with this Suzuki. Then the Swace was available only in Northern Ireland, thankfully with this upgraded model it available throughout our island; in the Republic badged SZ-T.
Right away, from when I took control of this latest model, I did observe the very welcome increase in power, fifteen percent which raises the combined maximum power from 122bhp to 140bhp. With changes to the engine and hybrid system there is a minimal change to fuel consumption and CO2 emissions (102g/km). Equipped with an EV drive mode function and in EV drive mode, the Swace is driven solely by its electric motor with power supplied from the battery. This mode can be used for driving short distances without having to worry about noise or emissions, especially in residential areas, not to annoy the neighbours early in the morning or late at night. The engine capacity is 1.8 litres and on occasion I felt I was driving a two litre. It was refreshing to drive an estate as so any vehicles which come my way for road test purposes are SUVs of one form, size or other. Yet I strongly feel there is still a place for an estate and this member of the Suzuki line-up is deserving of that.
A two grade range, which keeps life simple, the 2003 Swace does offer a lot; a surprising high specification; eg. Emergency Driving Stop system, LED rear lamps, seven airbags, Dual Zone automatic air conditioning, eight-inch LCD colour information screen, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, Smart phone link for wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto device connectivity, rear parking camera, new digital instrument cluster with three display modes, type C USB port and Dynamic Radar Cruise control. Step up to Ultra which adds updated Bi-LED projector headlights, Safe Exit Assist, Smart Door locking, Front and Rear Park distance sensors, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, interior ambient lighting, and centre console tray with wireless charger. A comprehensive list you will agree, usually found on vehicles costing a good deal more. The main reason people opt to purchase an estate is for practical reasons and combined with practicality is comfort comfort and the well appointed interior offers a feeling of open and comfortable spaciousness, and there is plenty of luggage capacity geared to suit all lifestyles.
The large 596 litre luggage compartment delivers and for added versatility, the rear carpeted floorboard can be placed in a lower position to store taller objects and is also reversible with a resin backside that can be used for stowing wet or dirty items. The compartment can be easily expanded into a fully flat space by using the remote folding lever to fold down the second-row seats. Of course privacy needs to be addressed and there is a detachable tonneau cover that can be retracted with a single touch, and the luggage compartment is equipped with auto-illuminating lights and DC12V accessory socket for added convenience. Those who have outdoor activities will certainly enjoy this estate from Suzuki. Responsive, safe handling is the reward this Suzuki delivers behind the wheel thanks to a low centre of gravity design and finely tuned suspension. The sleek, low bonnet line and positioning of the hybrid battery beneath the rear seats help give a low stance, reducing body roll around corners, improving stability and contributing to a smoother ride. Not forgetting three drive modes to work with, Normal, ECO and Sport.
Summing up, this is a good all rounder which brought me a breath of fresh air from the large number of SUVs I test; by the way I do appreciate and understand why people choose such vehicles. For me, variety is the spice of life.