Suzuki Vitara 1.4 S Auto Allgrip Review.
For – handsome, understated, well equipped, all-rounder priced to go.
Against – fuel economy disappoints.
I spent months seeking out the finest small SUV to buy and here it is, the Suzuki Vitara.
It looks the best (in my humble, subjective opinion). I really like the simple, no-nonsense, rugged styling. It is very well equipped from four-wheel drive to radar cruise control and automatic city braking. And it’s priced to go.
That the Suzuki Vitara should emerge as the best in the sector is really saying something, because it is becoming very crowded, led by the lovely little Renault Captur. The Captur failed for me because it didn’t have four-wheel drive. The idea of a 2-wheel drive SUV makes no sense to me, and I do wonder if buyers of the Captur realise this? They might well think that because it pretends to be an SUV, naturally it will get you out of the mud or snow. I must remember to ask a Captur driver the next time I meet one. You could probably have the same conversation with buyers of the Vauxhall Mokka.
I’ve test driven most of this group and it is really hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. They all drive well. They all look good in their own way. So it’s down to the level of equipment and price.
I winnowed the selection down to the Vitara and the Skoda Yeti, after flirting with more expensive SUVs like the Ford Kuga, Hyundai Tucson (https://www.wintonsworld.com/hyundai-tucson-premium-se-2015-review/), Kia Sportage (https://www.wintonsworld.com/kia-sportage-first-edition-review/), VW Tiguan and Audi Q3. The Tucson gets my vote in this group, but I digress.
Boosterjet clinched it
The Yeti was a terrific little car, exuding great quality and drove and handled very well, but it was just too pricey. And the styling does suggest its most recent relatives were vans. It was the latest Vitara’s powerful new 1.4 litre, “Boosterjet” 146 hp petrol engine which was the clinching factor, offering lively performance and (and unattainable as it turned out) excellent fuel consumption. Suzuki claims 51.3 mpg. So far I’ve never managed more than 35 mpg. It requires servicing every 9,000 miles, which doesn’t seem very long, and I wonder why? I’ll find out. The performance is very lively right across the speed range and it hums along nicely on the motorway at around 80 mph. Handling is fine and it keeps very flat through fast corners
Prices for the Vitara start at £13,999 for the 1.6 litre petrol SZ4. There are various versions, some powered by a 1.6 litre diesel, some manual, some automatic, some 2-wheel drive, some all-wheel. Some have 5-speed manual gearboxes and sun-roofs. The 1.4 S with a 6-speed manual gearbox is priced at £20,899. All come with a juicy level of standard equipment.
My choice was the top of the range S, with auto box and four-wheel drive; price – £22,900. The specification is truly impressive across the range. Standard equipment for all Vitara models includes seven airbags, alloy wheels, DAB Radio with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control with speed limiter, auto air conditioning and front and rear electric windows. SZ-T adds 17” silver painted alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, Smartphone link audio and navigation system.
Moving up to SZ5 adds LED Projector headlights, 17” polished alloy wheels, suede seat fabric, keyless entry with start button, Adaptive Cruise Control, Radar Brake Support and Panoramic sunroof. The S model has black alloy wheels, unique grille design, satin silver door mirrors, rear upper spoiler and black side body mouldings. For the interior the sporting theme continues with red interior stitching, red air conditioning vent and instrument accents, and aluminium alloy pedals. It also gets the “ALLGRIP” 4×4.
The direct injection turbocharged “boosterjet” engine – offers 220Nm of torque from 1,500 rpm through to 4,000. The technology increases power and fuel efficiency, says Suzuki, in line with its plan to reduce weight and size.
No turbo lag
Suzuki said this technology “virtually eliminated” turbo lag, when you put your foot down to get into moving traffic and the engine refuses to respond, momentarily. It seems to work
The Vitara uses high tensile steel and other weight saving materials. This results in the Vitara being one of the lightest SUV’s in its class at 1,075 kg for the 1.6-litre two wheel drive models with manual transmission, according to Suzuki.
The “ALLGRIP” 4×4 system has four modes comprising –
- Auto – uses two-wheel drive by default. It switches to four wheel drive if it detects wheel spin.
- Sport – twisty roads. The system maximises four-wheel drive linked to accelerator inputs.
- Snow – snowy, unpaved, and other slippery surfaces.
- Lock – for extricating the car from snow, mud, or sand. A limited slip differential is fitted which helps brake any slipping wheel and transfer torque to the gripping wheels.
Hill Hold Control is standard across the range, and prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards for two seconds. Hill Descent Control is standard on S and SZ5 “ALLGRIP” models. When the vehicle is travelling down a steep slope and engine braking is not sufficient, Hill Descent Control will automatically apply the brakes to restrict vehicle speed, allowing the driver to maintain full control and concentrate on steering the car safely.
One hour slow
The Vitara’s interior was supposedly a weak point for Suzuki, but this has been addressed. The interior is very smart, with an attractive dashboard and dials. There’s a classy looking clock sitting in the middle, although it currently is one hour slow. The complications of resetting it too summer time proved too much for me, not to mention a tech savvy younger friend. I’ll be speaking to the dealer. I might also ask him to switch the temperature readout to Fahrenheit from Centigrade. This might well become even more urgent on June 24.
The touch screen shows the radio, sound system, sat nav, phone link and smartphone attachment. The materials are pretty good, although not BMW, and the bins have no lids. There are no armrests for the driver. The seats are a combination of suede and leather with red stitching to set them off. No complaints there. The steering wheel is leather clad. The controls include speed limiter and radar cruise control which I’m slowly getting used to. The system which warns of a low speed collision seems to go off for no reason. But other times, when you expect the system to engage, nothing seems to happen. Another conversation with the dealer beckons. I still haven’t moved the 4×4 select button. There’s plenty of leg and head room in the back, and the rear seats fold down neatly.
So the Suzuki Vitara is the best small SUV when you consider design, utility and price. And it performs very nicely too. If, after a couple of thousand miles, the fuel consumption starts to build towards Suzuki’s claims, I’ll revisit and maybe award it a belated five out of five.
Suzuki Vitara 1.4 S
|Suzuki Vitara 1.4 S|
|Engine:||1.4 litre, 4-cylinder petrol|
|Power:||146 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Torque:||220 NM @ 1,500-4,000|
|Acceleration:||0-62 mpg-100 km/h 10.2 seconds|
|Top Speed:||124 mph-200 km/h|
|Fuel Consumption:||claimed combined 51.3 mpg-5.5 l/km.
WintonsWorld roadtest – 35.0 mpg-8.1 l/km
|Emissions class:||EU 6|
|Service Intervals:||9,000 miles|
|Warranty:||3 year, 60,000 miles|
|Boot capacity:||375/710 litres|
|Competition:||Skoda Yeti, Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008, Vauxhall-Opel Mokka, Ford EcoSport, Nissan Juke, Mitsubishi ASX, Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, Dacia Duster, Maxda CX-3, Honda HR-V|
|Would I buy one?||I did!|
|For:||handsome, understated, well equipped all-rounder priced to go|
|Against:||fuel economy disappoints|