REMEMBER the popularity of the MPV (multi-purpose vehicle), also known as the people carrier?

The family-oriented almost van-like motor with its emphasis on clever interior space carried all before it for a time.

Would it sound the death knell for the estate car, previously the long-established wheels of choice for those with a family/lifestyle/sports equipment focus, as some predicted?

Not a bit of it. The MPV’s popularity has waned while the estate car is still doing its stuff.

And Suzuki is catering for that demand with the Swace, introduced late last year as the second vehicle to be launched from the Suzuki/ Toyota collaborative business agreement.

Based on the Toyota Corolla Hybrid Estate, the car has Suzuki signature front design changes and is manufactured in the UK with exports to Europe.

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The large grille opening and strong fog lamp bezels are inherited from Suzuki’s signature sporty design which together with the front bumper positioned low to the ground creates an overall impression of stability. The grille mesh and fog lamp garnish both feature a honeycomb pattern with a painted black finish to further accentuate its sporty feel.

Stylish and versatile, the car has an athletic design, smooth and stable ride-comfort and advanced hybrid performance. 

The Swace’s hybrid system combines a powerful electric motor with a 1.8 litre petrol engine exclusively designed for hybrid system use, and a smooth CVT automatic transmission, delivering a seamless driving feeling with powerful acceleration as well as excellent fuel economy and low emissions.

The hybrid system, which charges on the go, optimally drives the Swace with the motor, engine or both, depending on driving conditions.

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There is an EV drive mode function, the car being 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 early in the morning and late at night, or in garages and indoor parking areas.

The driving experience is one of ease-of-use, the car starting at the push of a button in whisper-quiet electric mode, before the petrol engine chimes in as the car gathers speed. And there are three easily-selectable driving modes (apart from EV):  Normal, Eco and Sport.

Normal provides an optimal balance between ride comfort, stability and fuel economy.

Eco helps the driver accelerate in an eco-friendly manner and enhance fuel economy through more gradual throttle response and minimal air-conditioning use. This mode is useful during stop-and-go city driving. And Sport controls the hybrid system to provide quick and powerful acceleration, making it suitable for when an agile driving response is desired.

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The five-door car is roomy and comfortable with lots of carrying capacity. With rear seat-back in place, the 596-litre luggage compartment provides ample space and the rear carpeted floorboard can be placed in a lower position to allow for taller objects. It is also reversible, with a resin underside that can be used for stowing wet or dirty items.

The load-area easily expands to 1,606-litres, with a fully-flat surface, by using the remote folding lever to drop the rear (split-fold) seat backs. It has a detachable tonneau cover that can be retracted with a single touch, auto-illuminating lights and 12-volt accessory socket. Convenient storage spaces can be found throughout the cabin for storing small items.

A high standard specification includes seven airbags, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, eight-inch multimedia audio system incorporating a connectivity suite, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, rear parking camera and a pre-collision emergency braking system.

In addition, our top-spec SZ5 model featured smart door locking, simple-intelligent park assist, front and rear park distance sensors, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and centre console tray incorporating a wireless charger.

The combined maximum power output for the petrol engine and electric motor is 122bhp, with performance figures of 0-62mph in 11. 1 seconds, a top speed of 112mph and a combined fuel consumption of 64.2mpg, with 99g/km CO2 emissions (manufacturer’s figures).

The Swace is a generous car in terms of comfort, space and level of equipment, easy-going and pleasing to drive with a load-swallowing carrying capacity.

Price: £29,899 OTR (inc white pearl paint, £600)