Road Test by Mark Slack: Suzuki Vitara – lots to like!

The colour palette of cars seems to consist of largely black, grey or silver with little variation unless you start ticking the extra cost option boxes. With all the differing colours available, you might wonder why a potential buyer would pick Suzuki’s solar yellow and pay an additional €959/£835 for the privilege. It’s very bright! Thankfully for those without the need for a look at me car there’s a range of less vibrant paint finishes.

Luminescent paint apart, the Vitara is a delight and comes with lots of standard equipment, even on the lead-in version. It also offers an admirable absence of digitisation except for the sensible things you might expect to be placed on a touchscreen. Buttons are easier to use than having to dive into numerous sub menus on a screen, which is all too often the case these days.

The car’s power comes from 1.4 or 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engines, manual or automatic gears, 2 or 4-wheel-drive, mild or full hybrid power and two trim levels, with prices starting at a very competitive €24,195/£20,999. That entry-level version comes with adaptive cruise, smart phone integration, automatic air conditioning, auto lights and wipers,

My test model was the SZ5 full hybrid priced at €28,514/24,749 and adds a superb panoramic opening roof as standard along with keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors and a rear parking camera to name but a few of the standard features.

The SZ5 test model also came with all-wheel-drive and Suzuki’s automatic gearbox, which is actually an automated manual transmission. Rather like the CVT automatic gearboxes, this system is fine unless you are under hard acceleration when the engine revs rise, with a delay before the transmission effectively catches up and changes the gear. Your ears end up desperate for the next ratio.

The other issue is that were you to buy the mild hybrid Vitara in the same trim level, still with all-wheel-drive but a 6-speed manual gearbox, instead of the 1.5-litre engine, you get the 1.4-litre Boosterjet unit. It provides 62 mph some 3 seconds faster, the same level of Co2 emissions and 0.3 mpg less. In my view, it’s also a nicer drive.

All told the Vitara is an immensely likeable SUV, practical, plenty of equipment and nicely bolted together, along with sensible and competitive pricing. My advice would be to opt for the manual version unless you need an automatic. It’s a nicer engine, nicer drive and handles surprisingly well.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Suzuki Vitara SZ5 AllGrip Hybrid AGS

Engine: 1.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol

Gears: automated manual gearbox

Performance: 0-100 kmh (62 mph) 12.7 seconds/Maximum Speed 178 kmh (111 mph)

Economy: 5.3l/100km (53 mpg) Combined driving (WLTP)

Emissions: 121 g/km (WLTP)

Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.


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