VERY often when car makers introduce an update it is merely cosmetic… aimed at persuading us that we must be seen to have the most up to date version.

However, our latest car on test is quite the reverse – while the 2023 UK built Swace self-charging hybrid looks pretty much like its predecessor a lot has changed under the skin.

It was already a good mid-size family estate car with lots of room, comfort, equipment and performance but Suzuki has now introduced several upgrades.

The first is in performance where the car’s 1.8 petrol four pot has got another 18bhp and the electric motor boosted to give a combined 140bhp meaning the 0 to 62 time goes down to 9.4 seconds (from 11.1) while economy and CO2 emissions are virtually unchanged at an impressive 62mpg combined and 102g/km.

Exterior styling has been refreshed, safety equipment enhanced and digital and multimedia systems upgraded as part of a higher standard specification across the two model range – Motion and Ultra.

A clear and easy to use eight inch central infotainment touch screen, heated front seats and steering wheel, wireless smart phone connection, rear camera and adaptable cruise control are on all Swaces while Ultra versions also get Bi-LED headlights, parking sensors all round, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and smart door locking.

Those safety upgrades mean the car boasts advanced assist functions including emergency stop if it detects erratic driving, safe exit assist where a warning is triggered if a door is about to be opened into the path of an oncoming vehicle, a pre collision system to help prevent crashes, auto high beam, lane departure alerts and road sign assist.

The car can be driven in EV only mode for short distances and there are also normal, eco and sport settings. Sat nav is now via your smartphone.

Priced at £29k for the Motion and £30,799 for the Ultra, Suzuki say they expect to only sell around 2,000 each year here, so there will be a degree of exclusivity for owners. Also UK-built Swaces are being exported to Europe.

However, more sharp-eyed readers will have spotted that the Swace has an almost identical twin in the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports with only a couple of differences beyond the badging – the Swace only has one engine option and a smaller infotainment screen.

It is the latest result of collaboration between Suzuki and Toyota (following the Suzuki Across and Toyota RAV4) although Suzuki only offer an estate version.

I got the chance to try out a Swace Ultra at a recent Suzuki UK launch event through the leafy lanes and A roads of North Cheshire and it proved to be a very capable, comfortable and easy to live with motor.

While Suzuki are not one of the biggest players in the UK car market they have a loyal fan base of customers, many of whom keep their cars for several years. The manufacturer also regularly scores well in satisfaction and reliability surveys.

So with great economy, lots of space for people and luggage plus all the latest kit and safety equipment the stylish Swace could well be a hit for Suzuki.

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By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth