New Car Launches
Review: All-new Suzuki Vitara
posted on Apr 09 2015 by Tim Barnes-Clay
By Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Journalist - Twitter @carwriteups
Ever since its launch in 1988, the Suzuki Vitara has earned high praise for its compact and easy to manage dimensions, good on-road performance and off-road capability.
Over the years, the model has evolved through changes in body size and powertrain, but now, more than a quarter of a century after its debut, the Vitara heritage is embodied in a fresh sport utility vehicle (SUV) incarnation.
The all-new Vitara has smaller dimensions to meet modern-day needs and incorporates Suzuki’s avant-garde ALLGRIP four wheel drive gadgetry as an option. Advanced safety and connectivity equipment is available and the Vitara also enables you to express yourself through personalisation options.
The Vitara is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine or a 1.6-litre DDiS unit. With the petrol option, friction reductions help achieve excellent fuel economy together with high output and torque. For the diesel engine, a new EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) system and an electronically controlled VGT (Variable Geometry Turbocharger) help achieve vigorous performance.
What’s more, the fresh Vitara’s CO2 emissions are low thanks to the use of light high tensile steel, plus an Auto Stop Start system which shuts down the engine when stationary. The CO2 emissions for the petrol engine with two wheel drive / manual transmission are 123g/km and 127g/km for the petrol engine with two-wheel drive / six-speed automatic transmission.
Of course, when it comes to four-wheel drive, you might think it’s disadvantageous to fuel economy and emissions performance. That’s not the case here because, by contrast, Suzuki’s ALLGRIP system enables CO2 emissions that are remarkably low for a four-wheel drive SUV. Figures of 130g/km are achieved with the five-speed manual transmission and 131g/km with the six-speed automatic transmission. The Vitara also has outstandingly low CO2 emissions with the DDiS engine, emitting just 106g/km with two-wheel drive / six-speed manual transmission and 111g/km with four-wheel drive / six-speed manual transmission.
But what about its looks? Well, the new SUV has a beefy design. The bonnet gives the front of the Vitara a look of sturdiness, and a trapezoid motif front bumper denotes excellent traction underfoot. Furthermore, the Japanese automaker’s quest for first-class aerodynamics is shown in optimally designed bumper openings. It also shows in the roof line that slants downward towards the rear. In addition, LED headlamps add to energy saving while giving off a chic impression.
Step into the cabin and a clear-cut instrument panel hints at SUV practicality, while the circular timepiece and spherical ventilation louvres help give the interior a young at heart, energetic feel.
Whether in petrol or diesel guise, the Vitara offers a balanced on-tarmac drive mixed with real off road aptitude. I drove both variants, but the SZ5 1.6-litre DDiS ALLGRIP manual spec I tested at launch in Portugal really had me hooked. 0-62mph is achieved in11.4 seconds and top speed is 112mph. The six-speed transmission is slick and moving through the cogs is effortless.
Driving the car over an ad-hoc mud, sand and dirt course just outside Lisbon, I found the ALLGRIP technology sends more torque to the rear wheels if it senses wheel spin at the front. New ‘feed forward’ equipment gives further capacity to calculate front wheel spin hazards, accelerator pedal position, and steering angle. It then sends supplementary torque to the rear wheels before any unnecessary spin take place.
On the whole, the 2015 Suzuki Vitara is outstanding – and far more polished than its predecessor. Some cabin plastics still feel cheap, but the key touch points are agreeably padded. The car I tested will cost £19,799 and returns around 67mpg on average. Not bad at all for a 4x4.
On sale from just £13,999 for the rudimentary 1.6 SZ4 model, the Vitara is good value. It goes on sale in Britain at the end of April 2015 and you can see our Vitara leasing deals here.