Suzuki Vitara Review
Suzuki claims its latest 2019 Vitara is the company’s most technically advanced car ever with styling upgrades and lots of extra kit. But can it cut it in such a competitive marketplace?
- Great handling with the option of 4WD
- Nice interior with soft touch dashboard and lots of on-board technology as standard
- Practical SUV with room for all the family
- Quite noisy at faster speeds
- High-end model costs more than £25k
- No diesel option (and no plans to reintroduce one)
The 2019 Suzuki Vitara builds on the success of the car that was launched in 2015 and adds lots of extra kit. There are a number of styling upgrades, new engines, extra safety features and a much more upmarket interior.
From a design viewpoint, 2019 Vitara has a new front grille and bumper along with freshly restyled LED lights. The interior boasts lots of soft-touch materials, snazzy seat trim, a smarter instrument panel and a front armrest at the request of existing customers. There is additional safety kit along with the introduction of Boosterjet technology for the 1.0-litre and 1.4-litre turbocharged engines. There is no longer a diesel option but they were not in high demand.
The marketplace is flooded with quality five-seat SUVs but this latest model, which is available in SZ4, SZ-T and SZ5 trims, can certainly take on the likes of the Renault Captur and SEAT Arona when vying for sales.
On the Road
Following the debut of the punchy 1.0-litre, three-cylinder Boosterjet engine in the Suzuki Baleno, S-Cross and Swift, it is now available in the five-door Vitara and the engineers claim it offers the same level of power and torque as a much larger capacity normally-aspirated 1.7 to 1.8-litre engine.
So, we decided to put that model through its paces on a road route that featured motorway driving along with lots of stop/start town centre roads and twisting country lanes. And it would seem those engineers have got it spot on.
Despite its compact size, the 111PS engine delivers all the power and strength needed to drive the Vitara. There is an impressive 170Nm of torque and the vehicle swiftly accelerates through the five-speed manual gearbox. The 0-62mph sprint time of 12.0 seconds actually feels much faster and the car maxes out at 120mph.
There is ample power to overtake slower moving vehicles and my only slight gripe was the lack of a sixth gear. In all honesty, the performance impresses without being too flashy.
Our test car also featured Suzuki’s tried and tested Allgrip 4WD system which will keep you on track in harsher driving and weather conditions.
The Suzuki Vitara is a well-built five-door SUV that can be driven away from the comfort of the road when required thanks to the presence of Allgrip four-wheel-drive. Although the car isn’t the most dynamic to drive it can easily hold its own on fast-moving motorways and it copes well with country roads with lots of twists and turns.
The road-holding is confident and there is minimal body lean into bends. Our car, in mid-range SZ-T trim level, was sitting on 17-inch wheels which perfectly suited the vehicle. They looked great but were not oversized so didn’t have a detrimental effect on the handling.
Generally, the ride and comfort levels are high for all occupants and the car’s suspension system does a good job of smoothing out the road surfaces. You will notice an increase in road surface and engine noise when driven at speed, but at lower speeds the cabin is nicely insulated against the outside world.
Suzuki’s Allgrip system offers four selectable modes called Auto, Sport, Snow and lock. Auto maximises fuel efficiency and uses two-wheel drive as a default, Sport is optimal for twisty roads, Snow offers extra grip in the snow or when travelling on other slippery surfaces and finally Lock is used for extricating the car from snow, mud or sand.
Compact SUVs or crossover vehicles come in all shapes and sizes with prices aimed at all budgets. The Suzuki Vitara range caters for customers looking for an entry-level car thanks to the SZ4 version with more basic kit and two-wheel drive priced at £16,999. But if you want the all-singing model with 4WD and an automatic transmission then you are looking at £25k which seems a lot to pay for a Suzuki.
But the latest Vitara has certainly moved upmarket with a vast improvement to the quality of the interior features. There is attractive new seat trim with the SZ5 cars boasting a suede seat fabric. There are more soft touch surfaces and the instrumentation is a lot more modern in its design.
Our test car boasted a generous amount of kit which was all included in the asking price with features such as Smartphone link to connect a phone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a decent audio set-up, Bluetooth, a navigation system and a neat looking colour touchscreen.
The seats are nicely supportive and the Vitara is a comfortable place to be. It is well-insulated against noise and it only really becomes an issue if pushing on at higher speeds.
In the car
It’s easy to get comfy in the new Vitara with ample seat adjustment along with a steering wheel with tilt and telescopic adjustment. The driver is treated to a commanding view of the road ahead thanks to the elevated seating position and all controls, dials and readouts are perfectly placed for ease of use.
The Vitara is just over 4.1 metres in length and 1.7 metres wide so it feels large enough when travelling on motorways but compact enough to park, and the rear parking camera is there to assist when squeezing into tight parking spaces.
Our Vitara was beautifully agile with light steering which helped when weaving through congested traffic and the new instrument cluster now features a central colour information display.
There is plenty of on-board technology to explore, including a DAB digital radio, four-speaker sound system, easily programmable sat nav and full smartphone connectivity. I did find the volume controls on the touchscreen a little fiddly but there are also buttons on the multi-function steering wheel which are more practical.
A top-notch SUV needs to be a practical option for an active family and the Vitara scores well on that count. It looks robust and has features such as black wheel arch extensions and chunky bumpers to protect the car if travelling on uneven surfaces.
The interior is well designed with room for four adults to travel in true comfort or five at a bit of a squeeze. Taller passengers benefit from ample head and legroom thanks to the upright design of the car and luggage needs are also well catered for. The Vitara has a boot capacity of 375 litre which can be increased to 710 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. There is an adjustable boot floor which is ideal if you want to separate items such as muddy boots from the rest of your kit. Bag hooks and tie-down hooks will prevent items from rolling around.
Throughout the cabin are numerous other convenient storage facilities, including a glovebox, console box, cup holders, door bins with bottle holders and seat pockets.
The Vitara would be ideal for anyone who needs to transport children with easy access to the back seats to fix a child seat and there are Isofix child seat anchors. It would also be suitable for anyone with mobility issues thanks to the slightly elevated seating which would make it easy to get in or out of the vehicle.
The Vitara range is priced from £16,999 for the 1.0 Boosterjet SZ4 model with five-speed manual gearbox to £25,649 for the 1.4 Boosterjet SZ5 Allgrip automatic model. Our test car in mid SZ-T grade with 4WD and manual transmission cost £20,799. Similarly to Kia, Suzuki produces well-equipped cars without any hidden extras. The only optional extra on our test car was specialist paint costing £800.
When it comes to running costs, our Vitara could deliver combined fuel economy of 39.4mpg with carbon emissions of 162g/km. These are on the new WLTP ratings which are more realistic. The Vehicle Excise Duty is calculated using the older NEDC figures, which in the case of the Vitara was 129g.km. So a first year VED charge would equate to £165 and it would drop down to £140 the following year.
It’s interesting to see that there are no longer any diesel versions of the Vitara and according to Suzuki there are no plans to introduce any. They previously accounted for about 15 per cent of sales at best.
The insurance group for our car was 12.
Suzuki’s reputation for developing very reliable cars is the envy of many rival manufacturers. It frequently scores well in independent customer surveys and major faults are few and far between.
Although there are some hard plastics within the cabin Suzuki has introduced lots of soft-touch finishes to improve the standard. All the switchgear feels sturdy as do the seats which are nicely supportive. The touchscreen is a little prone to fingerprint marks, but can easily be wiped clean.
The Vitara is available with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty with the option to extend it further if required.
The Suzuki Vitara gained a maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating at launch in 2015. It was awarded high scores in all four areas of assessment with an 89 per cent mark for adult occupants.
And the latest car boasts even more kit, which is why the Japanese company describes it as their most technically advanced model to date.
Features include dual sensor brake support which works between 3mph and 62mph. If the system determines there is a collision risk with something ahead, it will issue an audio and visual warning. It will brake if the warnings are ignored.
Other safety systems include adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, lane departure warning and lane departure prevention, vehicle sway warning, rear cross traffic alert, traffic sign recognition and plenty more besides.
The Vitara is fitted with an immobiliser, security alarm and has remote central locking.