All New Suzuki Vitara Reviewed

In Car Reviews, Suzuki by Tom Scanlan

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Some cars can look great in photos. Here’s one. On the road it goes as well as it looks.

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Just launched into the UK, the All New Suzuki Vitara SUV. Prices start at just £13,999 and the cheapest version, the SZ4, now has seven airbags, including a driver’s knee bag, as standard equipment. Also standard are Bluetooth and DAB radio.


As you go up the range, further current-tech connectivity and infotainment features are added on as standard equipment. Also standard both on the SZ-T and range-topping SZ5 models is smartphone audio and navigation linking.

This Suzuki can be more personalised than before, with a range of exterior and interior colour combinations. Bright turquoise, copper and red metallics seem to predominate, not subtle, but easy to spot in a car park.
The SZ5 has Suzuki’s version of an automatic braking system, operated by radar, and adaptive cruise control. The distance at which the braking operates can be adjusted according to your needs. As I discovered when by chance following a car down the Cheddar Gorge, it works, thus, in this case, allowing a sheep on the road to escape with its life.

Two engines are on offer: there’s a 1.6-litre diesel and same-sized petrol engine. They both have 120PS, with the diesel emitting 106 g/km and the petrol 123 g/km on cars with two-wheel-drive.

New for the SZ5 is the option of a six-speed automatic gearbox, but you’ll have to wait until July for this to come on stream.

Vitaras have always been quite agile off-road performers and the car’s large wheels and class-leading high ground clearance continue to support this. An optional four-mode ALLGRIP four-wheel-drive system is available. This works in Auto, Snow And Sport with the system changing from the normal two-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive, while, in the ‘lock’ mode, four-wheel-drive is permanently engaged. A reasonably testing rocky off-road course proved that the Vitara can cope with this sort of thing.

Suzuki have also made the car able to more personalised than before, with a range of exterior and interior colour combinations. Bright turquoise, copper and red metallics seem to predominate, not subtle, but easy to spot in a car park.

The driving was easy…the course was not designed to push the Vitara beyond its limits, but was aimed to replicate what might be the sort of reasonably common off-road environment that some Vitara owners might need to manage fairly regularly. The main technical feature that aids progress is the hill descent control. Anyone who knows about off-road driving will be familiar with this device — you simply descend steep and perhaps slippery inclines controlling only the steering wheel. The car does the rest without any need to touch the brake pedal. The car also has the hill-start holding feature: you can stop on a hill with the brake, put the gear into neutral and, when you need to set off again, release the brake — you then get time to engage the clutch without rolling back.

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On tarmac, the All New Suzuki Vitara rides nicely and all the main functions can’t be faulted. There seems to be no such thing any more as a bad car. Suzukis tend to be on the bottom rung as far as pricing goes, yet they do most things that more expensive cars do. As a package, therefore, they are good value for money.

The petrol version tested had a smooth engine with reasonable performance. Zero to 62 mph takes 11.5 seconds. On the 52-mile test drive, an indicated 46.3 mpg compares with the official combined cycle figure of 53.3 mpg (ALLGRIP versions don’t do so well). It drives the front wheels through a nice five-speed manual gearbox. The brakes worked perfectly well, the handling was no problem, the car didn’t lean over or lurch…good marks all round.

I was expecting the new Vitara, which has a shortish wheelbase, to be a touch cramped inside, but it was not at all. Shoulder width in the rear was as good as it was in the front. The cabin was well fitted out with the console and instrumentation being straight forward and without gimmicks. The materials were of course not as lavish as in more expensive cars but there was variety and it appeared to be well made. Importantly, the seats were comfortable; however, the test run was around two hours and four hours is nearer the mark for a full appraisal for rear end comfort testing!

The boot was spacious enough for most people and was able to be configured to have a double floor.

One interesting fact emerged on the launch day: it’s possible to lock your keys inside the car. A fellow journalist managed to do just that. He inadvertently pressed the lock button on the armrest as he exited the car. In order to take a photo of the car, he put his hand back through the open window to press the switch that closed the window, getting his hand out before the fail-safe window-stop activated. The keys were still inside…oh dear! We can’t go round testing that scenario in every car on the market, but the probability is that the Vitara is not unique in this respect. However, it stands as a warning never to leave your keys in the car.

The new Vitara is the first in its sector to achieve a five-star rating in the independent Euro-NCAP tests.

With its updated, contemporary new look and simple financial steps up the three-version range, along with a variety of options, the new Vitara will certainly help Suzuki in its goal to sell as many cars as it has ever done in Britain.

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All New Suzuki Vitara

On the road prices from £13,999 – £21,299  Available now.

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About the Author

Tom Scanlan

'Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars. He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0. In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.'

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