First Drive: All-new Suzuki Vitara
It is hard to believe the Suzuki Vitara has been around since 1988. That makes me feel old because that’s the year I passed my driving test.
More than 26 years have gone by; I’m not 17 anymore and the Vitara heritage has evolved. Now the sports utility vehicle (SUV) has compact dimensions to meet contemporary needs and incorporates Suzuki’s cutting-edge ALLGRIP four wheel drive system as an option.
Of course, one major thing has changed since 1988 – and that’s the automotive industry’s obsession with fuel efficiency and clean engines. The new Vitara certainly promises both, due to weight-saving measures and tech. A good example is the 1.6-litre DDiS model with two-wheel drive and six-speed manual transmission. It has CO2 emissions of just 106g/km.
But what about aesthetics? Well, the new car has a strong looking design. The clamshell bonnet gives the front end a look of solidity, and a trapezoid motif front bumper indicates a powerful grip on the ground. Pronounced body side character lines and bonnet side louvres form motifs reminiscent of the first generation Vitara.
What’s more, Suzuki’s pursuit of good aerodynamics is reflected in optimally-designed bumper openings. It also shows in the roof line that slopes smoothly downward towards the rear. Additionally, LED headlamps contribute to energy saving while creating a cool impression.
Step inside, and a boldly-shaped instrument panel indicates SUV toughness while the round clock and round ventilation louvres help give the cabin a youthful, sporty look. Some interior plastics still feel hollow and scratchy, but the important touch points are nicely padded.
I drove the equivalent to the SZ5 1.6-litre DDiS ALLGRIP spec in Portugal recently.
The diesel stands out with its powerful, torquey performance. 0-62mph arrives in 11.4 seconds and the top end is 112mph. A six-speed manual transmission is mated to the engine. The gearbox is noticeably smooth and moving up and down the cogs is effortless, thanks to a shift lever counterweight. For those who don’t like left-foot action, you won’t have long to wait; a six-speed automatic will be available in the summer.
Of course, Suzuki is renowned for its four wheel drive technologies and the previously-mentioned ALLGRIP system, which debuted on the S-CROSS, impresses. It has four modes, auto; sport; snow and lock, for safe, enjoyable motoring on diverse surfaces and has earned a deservedly great reputation.
Priced from only £13,999 for the basic 1.6 SZ4 model, the Vitara represents good value for money.
Max speed: 112 mph
0-62 mph: 11.5 secs
Combined mpg: 70.6
Engine: 1598cc, 4 cylinder, 16 valve turbo diesel
Max. power (bhp): 118
Max. torque (Nm): 320
CO2: 106 g/km
Price: £17,499 on the road
PROS ‘N’ CONS
X Cabin plastics