Suzuki’s handsome Vitara SUV (sports utility vehicle) is a top performer in both town and country, with highly satisfying on-road performance while proving truly capable in off-road conditions. I spent a week running the rule over a top-spec SZ5 model with hybrid technology.
The five-door car’s lines are dynamic and appealing, with a clamshell bonnet (a hallmark of Vitara models) which gives the front end a look of solidity.
Suzuki’s pursuit of good aerodynamics is reflected in optimally designed bumpers, in a roof line that slopes smoothly downward toward the rear, in flat underbody surfaces, and in specially shaped side mirrors based on the results of airflow analysis.
You will find lots of tasty, useable kit, including LED projector headlamps for low and high beam, DAB radio with CD, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, rear parking camera and front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, auto air conditioning and front and rear electric windows.
There is also rear privacy glass, smartphone link audio and navigation system, suede seat upholstery, keyless entry with start button and a panoramic sunroof.
A high level of standard safety equipment includes dual sensor brake support, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control. Seven airbags, including driver’s knee airbag, are fitted as standard on all Vitara models.
On the road
The Vitara is nimble and manoeuvrable, adept at taking on all road conditions from tootling around town to the motorway haul. With comfortable ride and pleasing handling, the Vitara makes for a welcoming drive.
The 1.4-litre, 127bhp, turbocharged petrol engine is quiet-running and well-mated to the easy-changing, six-speed automatic gearbox. Performance figures are 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds with a top speed of 118mph. The combined fuel figure is 45.2mpg, with 142g/km CO2 (manufacturer’s figures).
In the past, I have tackled off-road conditions in the car and it acquits itself well, with the boon of its four-wheel-drive ALLGRIP technology.
Practicality? The cabin has handy stowage spaces, including a console box. And the luggage area – with a removable double-height floor – has a capacity of 375 litres with the rear seat in its upright position, increasing to 710 litres of space with the 60/40-split rear seat-back down.
Similar in basic principle to the 12-volt hybrid system that Suzuki pioneered in 2016 which is fitted to all Ignis and Swift 1.2-litre models, the 48-volt hybrid powertrain for the Vitara remains very lightweight in design and its components add less than 15kg to the overall weight of the vehicle.
The new and higher-powered Suzuki system consists of a 48-volt lithium-ion battery, integrated starter generator (known as ISG) which acts as both a generator and starter motor, is belt driven and assists the petrol engine during vehicle take off for a higher level of torque.
The compact and high-performance lithium-ion battery stores electrical energy recovered from deceleration and braking and incorporates an idle stop function operated via the integrated starter generator.
The car’s shifts between electrical and petrol power are smooth and seamless.
I thoroughly enjoyed my week in the well-equipped Vitara, with its blend of practicality, comfort and pleasant driving characteristics, all wrapped up in a handsome style package.
Price: £29,199 OTR (inc options)