Suzuki Vitara Hybrid – Everyday sunshine

In Car Reviews, Hybrid, Suzuki by Kieran Bicknell

Colour theory – the study of colour and its impact on a person’s emotions..

It’s a big part of the interior design world, but seems almost ignored by many car buyers. Look in any multi-storey car park, and you’ll see a sea of drab grey, white, black and silver cars all merging into one.

When asked about this, there is a range of standard responses “it’s good for resale value” or “it’s the cheapest” or a plethora of reasoning that these are the cheapest cars to get on bulk lease for company cars.

But, I have a theory. If more of us drove happy-coloured cars, the world would be a brighter place. My other half drives a bright yellow VW Beetle, and she is (almost) always happy in it, and it certainly stands out in a car park. The same is true of the cheerful little Suzuki Vitara Hybrid I’ve been driving this week, with its gorgeous Solar Yellow paintwork adding a drop of cheery, colourful sunshine to every day, set off perfectly against the contrasting black roof, mirrors, body mouldings, and polished 19” alloys.

Suzuki has really nailed the design of the Vitara here, in my opinion, and it remains one of the best-looking cars in their range.

The cheeriness doesn’t stop at the paintwork, oh no; Inside and behind the wheel, the theme continues. While the interior certainly won’t do anything to lift the spirits in itself, being mostly grey with some silver and black accents, the overall air of the Vitara Hybrid is one of happiness.

The expansive panoramic sunroof floods the cabin with light, which is further aided by the deep window line, resulting in excellent all-round visibility, bolstered by the parking sensors and reversing camera fitted to the top-spec SZ5 model tested.

On the road, the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid definitely surprised me too. It’s not the fastest by any means – taking just over 10 seconds to reach 60mph from a standing start – but it certainly feels quicker from the driver’s seat. The gearbox is also worthy of commendation: It’s lovely and slick, and the gear ratios are well-matched to the car, with a satisfyingly long ratio towards the top end meaning the Vitara is not only well-suited to typical country lanes and roads but also works exceptionally well as a long-distance cruiser.

Personally, I’d liken the Vitara to a mountain goat. It’s small, cheerful and peppy, but also has bucketloads of grip from the Suzuki Allgrip AWD system, so much so that it has a habit of hiding the speed you’re doing. You look down as you feel the Vitara start to move around a little, and realise you’re taking certain corners around 20mph faster than usual. Yet, the Vitara remains steady and planted throughout – truly impressive stuff.

Even on the non-specialist tires, the Allgrip system proved impressive off-road too, dealing with deep, sludgy mud and sub-standard terrain with ease, especially when the drive mode is switched over to ‘snow.’ If you need even more control, the Vitara Hybrid SZ5 also has a lockable diff and hill descent control, meaning you’d have to be REALLY trying for the Vitara to come unstuck. Of course, the same Allgrip system is fundamental to the brand’s smaller AWD offering – the Ignis – so it is evidently a well-proven system. If the Vitara is a mountain goat, what would that make the Ignis? Answers on a postcard, please.

If you’re having to lug around a small family while navigating the muddy back roads and green lanes of Wiltshire like I was, the Vitara will excel in this too. The back seats offer plentiful space, while the boot is also impressively spacious, offering 710 litres of adaptable space that can be customised to your needs by removing a number of different liners, trays, and the like.

Entertainment is also taken care of by Suzuki’s typical infotainment system, offering Bluetooth connectivity, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via the USB interface in the centre console.

With the bitter cold experienced while I had the Vitara Hybrid on test, I would’ve loved to have seen heated front seats and perhaps even a heated steering wheel make it into the top-spec SZ5 model. Still, otherwise I have very few gripes in terms of everyday life with the Vitara.

The fuel economy was impressive for a small AWD hybrid, hovering around the mid 40’s during my time with the car, though admittedly I didn’t have any opportunity to test it out on a good, long motorway slog, where I expect the MPGs may have made it past the 50mpg threshold.

Sport mode sharpened up the throttle response slightly, but even that didn’t appear to have much of a negative impact on the economy of the Vitara Hybrid… not that you’d ever really know it was a hybrid, save for the badging and little ‘energy capture’ icon on the dash, which pops up when coasting as the hybrid system harvests energy. There’s no overly-strong brake regen, nor is there any all-electric range… a hybrid by name, but not particularly by nature. Whether that is a good thing or not is down to each individual driver and what they’re looking for in a car, but it suited me down to a T.

Overall, I was genuinely impressed by the Vitara Hybrid. Top-spec SZ5 trim is really well equipped, but I would’ve liked to see a couple of other minor creature comforts as I’ve mentioned, but otherwise proved to be an excellent blend of spec and pricing. But, other than that, I can’t particularly fault it: Looks, character, and practicality – the Vitara Hybrid has it all!

Author rating: 4.5/5

Car reviewed: Suzuki Vitara Hybrid SZ5

on the road price £26,799 as tested £27,599

  • 0-62mph 10.2secs
  • Top speed 118mph
  • Engine 1373cc Boosterjet Hybrid unleaded
  • Fuel Economy WLTP Combined 45.4mpg
  • Max Power 129PS@5500rpm
  • Torque 235Nm@2000-3000rpm
  • Luggage Capacity 710 litres Max / 375 litres Min
  • CO2 emissions 140g/km
  • Transmission 6-speed manual / Allgrip four-wheel-drive
  • Insurance Group 19A

Kieran Bicknell

Motoring writer

Kieran Bicknell offers his fresh take on car reviews by making the most of his dynamic, yet detailed approach to writing. Having graduated from university with a BA (Hons) in Photography and spending a number of years as a freelance automotive photographer. Kieran is now putting his knowledge and writing skills to use, with the ability to supply both written articles and imagery. Kieran feels at home in anything from small superminis to the latest SUVs, and relishes the opportunity to drive, photograph and write about anything with four wheels.