Vitara 1.6 Allgrip SZ5
the brand, just keeps
getting better and better. As does
its Vitara, the latest generation
version of which has just arrived
in UK showrooms...
THE GRAND VITARA IT REPLACES which could be had with either
three or five doors, Suzuki's distinctive all-new Vitara 4WD crossover comes
with a full set of five doors. So if you've been thinking about getting the
likes of Nissan's market-leading Juke (the Vitara is usefully bigger but still
a wieldy size), the new Captur from Renault or Vauxhall's Mokka, then be sure
to make room on your list for the new Vitara.
Looks-wise it evokes the charisma of some rather more expensive SUVs and crossovers.
And it's proud of its looks which is why the Vitara flaunts some
stand-out-from-the-crowd paint finishes including five two-tone combinations
and the eye-catching Horizon Orange metallic (with Cosmic Black Pearl metallic
glasshouse) of our test car. Not a colour many cars can wear with panache
but the Vitara carries it off with style.
option packages can also be specified to personalise the interior and exterior
including a black or white front grille and the instrument panel trim which
is available in turquoise, orange, white, or piano black).
The Vitara flaunts
paint finishes including
the two-tone Horizon
with Cosmic Black Pearl
glasshouse of our
test car. Not a colour
many cars can wear with
panache but the
Vitara carries it off with
not all show though because underpinning the Vitara is Suzuki's track record
of producing 4x4 models. And while not a hardcore off-roader this new Vitara
will nonetheless tackle off-the-grid tracks and trails as well as any adverse
weather head-on: 185mm ground clearance, wheelarch protecting extensions and
sturdy off-roading skid plates give it the go-anywhere look a
look that's backed up by Suzuki's Allgrip four-wheel drive system.
But Engines before grip… Beneath the clamshell style bonnet of our test Vitara
was a 1.6-litre petrol engine (should you prefer, a 1.6 diesel is the alternative)
that pushes out 118bhp and 115lb ft of torque. Sufficient to take it to 112mph
and get it to the benchmark 62mph in exactly 12 seconds from standstill.
These days buyers want all-wheel drive for the seasonal white sprinkling and
economy the rest of the year. Usually you'd need to ask Santa about that but
the Vitara obliges out of the box: economy is officially 50.4mpg in the combined
cycle (43.4 urban and 55.4 extra urban). CO2 emissions are 130g/km which incurs
an annual road tax bill of £110 from the second year on (thanks to its 130g/km
you won't be called upon to pay any road tax for the first year).
A full week of no-quarter driving on fast moving motorways as well as in snarled
up town traffic saw an overall average of 40.1mpg. We'd expect most Vitara owners
to better our figures.
The four-pot, unleaded-drinking, free-revving powerplant is a willing unit and
satisfyingly flexible in the cut and thrust of city traffic. Incidentally, it
also costs £1,500 less to buy than the diesel and while we found its clean-changing
five-speed 'stick' shift perfectly fine (you don't miss a sixth forward gear;
and pick-up in top is strong on motorways) there's also a six-speed auto (with
paddle-shifters) which can be relied upon to take every last drop of hassle
out of driving in heavy traffic.
Vitara's on-demand all-wheel drive system offers four driver-selectable modes
for beating the tricky stuff: Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock. Better still, it's
foolproof to use and can be trusted to look after things for you in its Auto
setting, which uses two-wheel drive unless it really needs grip at every corner,
in which case it applies it.
Sport setting maximises engine performance to give you maximum grip and sporty
dynamics and you really can feel the difference pressing on along
twisty roads and cornering (naturally you'll use a bit more fuel if you leave
keep it 'sported-up' permanently).
The four-pot, unleaded-
powerplant is a willing
unit and satisfyingly
flexible in the cut and
thrust of city traffic.
Incidentally, it also costs
£1,500 less to buy than
the diesel and
other two settings are Snow, which gives you maximum tenacity and stability
not just in wintry conditions but on all slippery surfaces, flooded roads, etc.
Last but definitely not least is Lock which, in conjunction with a limited slip
diff, provides the utmost traction to get you through or even
out of sand, snow or mud.
Importantly, approach (18.2 degree) and departure (28.2 degree) angles are designed
to help negotiate deeply-rutted or snow-covered roads as well as to keep you
moving over obstacles and uneven ground off-road.
A valuable feature of the Allgrip system is that it also provides 'feed forward'.
Most conventional full-time 4x4 systems allocate 'drive' to the rear wheels
after detecting slippage at their front wheels; the Vitara does that too, but
it also cleverly anticipates loss of grip at the front before it's lost so it
can send balancing drive rearwards in time to counter grip loss so providing
greater stability at all times.
Other practical driver aids include Hill Hold for easy pull-aways on slopes
and Hill Descent Control which automatically feeds in wheel braking if you're
travelling steeply downhill and engine braking alone is not enough to slow you.
Given its crossover looks the Vitara's ride is more compliant than you may be
expecting; noticeably so in the urban (but often not so urbane) jungle. Humps,
bumps and shoddy blacktop are managed well while motorways are handled with
an easy mile-covering gait and it feels as though it will lope smoothly along
at the legal limit all day long.
its high ground clearance (185mm) and high-ridin' bodyshell, body lean during
cornering is well controlled and doesn't compromise the nimble handling, itself
predictably directed through the leather-rimmed helm. Not only does its compact
footprint benefit handling but parking and in-town manoeuvring are a doddle
even if you never used the standard-fit reversing camera and front and rear
parking sensors (which you will).
trim is marked out by SX5 badging and for the money £20,599
that brings you a whole heap of kit. Standard equipment includes smartphone
link audio and SatNav system, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, keyless entry with
start button, automatic AirCon, suede-and-leather upholstered seats, auto lights,
LED daytime running lights, rear parking camera with front and rear parking
sensors, rear privacy glass, double sliding Panoramic electric sunroof, multifunction
wheel, Adaptive Cruise, Radar Brake support, roof rails, off-road skid plates,
power windows, powerfold door mirrors (with heating), and a set of smart 17-inch
polished alloy wheels.
Despite its high ground
clearance and high-ridin
bodyshell, body lean
during cornering is well
controlled and doesnt
compromise the nimble
through the leather-
as houses', goes the saying. Travelling in the SZ5 you have that very same feeling;
of being out of harm's way it's not just down to the Vitara's
reassuring road manners but also the safety systems that, in addition to all-wheel
drive and ESP, include seven airbags (with one for the driver's knee), adaptive
cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring, and Radar Brake Support which monitors
the road ahead to check for any risk of a collision with the vehicle in front
if so, it warns the driver (both visually and aurally).
If its warnings are ignored and a collision in unavoidable, the system applies
the brakes automatically. Better still, it works at high speeds, in darkness,
and in rain and other bad weather. Plus a Far or Near distance warning can be
selected via a button on the dash.
Billed as 'compact', the 4,175mm-long Vitara is nevertheless one of the roomiest
crossovers to buy, easily seating five adults. The cabin is light and airy thanks
to a massive one-shot-op panoramic sunroof consisting of two individually sliding
glass panels it's one of the largest openings in the class, extending
over the front and rear seats for an amazing 560mm-long view of the sky. If
you're not in the mood for the full rays treatment there's a power mesh blind
or you could just don your shades (stored in a drop-down roof
well as invitingly airy the cabin is spacious and smartly fitted-out. Settle
comfortably in one of the leather-and-suede front seats and you'll find footwells
big enough for boot-wearing drivers and headroom aplenty along with decent bolstering
and effective shoulder and under-knee support. The driver (and passengers!)
also enjoy uninterrupted views out to the front, side and even rearwards courtesy
of the elevated driving position and big windows.
infotainment is controlled via a seven-inch touchscreen set in the centre of
the fascia panel (on our test car finished in orange to match the external paintwork)
and you can even operate it wearing gloves! 3D mapping also shows
easily-identified landmarks, plus smartphone apps can be run through the infotainment
system. Other nice touches included the multifunction wheel (voice, phone, media,
cruise, speed limiter) that keeps puts control of just about everything at your
glass sunroof is one of
the largest in the class.
If youre not
in the mood for the full
rays treatment theres
a power mesh blind
or you could just don
(stored in a drop-down
Access to the rear cabin is especially easy thanks to the wide-opening back
doors combined with real-world-sized openings that mean you don't have to mind
your head despite the gently rearward sloping roof and the fact
that the seat base is exactly the right height above the road to do the classic
'sit and swivel' getting in or out.
there, passengers will find loads of foot and knee room as well as backrests
set at a relaxing angle. As in the front, seating is high so views out are good.
The three seatbelts and three headrests aren't just for show three
adults can travel side by side and keep smiling.
Boot space with four or five on board is 375 litres more than
enough for everyday shopping and weekenders. For more serious load-lugging you
can fold the 60:40-split rear seatbacks to transform the boot into a 710-litre
cargo bay, easily accessed through the wide light-to-lift tailgate.
A double-height boot floor offers additional out-of-sight storage as well as
the option of accommodating taller than normal load items. The Vitara will tow,
too a braked 1,200kg. And, of course, there are bag hooks…
With an entry-level price that's very nice (three grades starting from just
£13,999) the new Vitaras offer a lot for the money including stand out from
the crowd looks. They're also exceedingly well-specced, an easy steer, and handle
people or packages with equal ease. We could say 'what's not to like'; and we'd
Suzuki Vitara 1.6 Allgrip SZ5 |
Maximum speed: 112mph | 0-62mph: 12 seconds | Test Average: 40.1mpg
Power: 118bhp | Torque: 115lb ft | CO2 130g/km