Long-term test (Introduction): Suzuki Vitara 1,6 GL+
Suzuki Auto South Africa continues its winning streak. Following successful recent introductions of the Ertiga, Celerio and Ciaz, it launched this Vitara, an example of which CAR will be running for a year.
The Vitara nameplate first made its debut 25 years ago and has established a reputation for rugged reliability. This new model takes a slightly different tack, however, and is positioned more as a crossover in the vein of the SX4.
This GL+ model is front-wheel driven despite muscular design cues such as a clamshell bonnet and flared fenders. More modern flourishes include the turquoise body colour finished off with a black roof for that design-touch-of-the-moment floating-roof effect.
Other models in the range include the entry level 1,6 GL, the 1,6 GL+ AllGrip (which means it has four-wheel drive with four selectable driving modes) and the GLX Auto and its AllGrip variant.
All Vitaras feature the same 86 kW/151 N.m 1,6-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine and my impressions of the powertrain have been positive so far. Although acceleration is leisurely, the five-speed transmission is slick and makes it easy to keep the engine in the meat of its powerband.
The comfortable ride is a strong point, as is the list of standard features. That includes cruise and climate control, a leather-trimmed, multifunction steering wheel, electric windows front and rear, as well as Isofix child-seat anchorages. The Vitara also boasts class-leading safety features, which include front, side and curtain airbags, a driver’s knee ‘bag, ABS with EBD and brake assist as well as an electronic stability-control system.
With my family of five, boot space is always a priority and, with my first month in the company of the Vitara behind me, it’s evident the measured 288 dm3 of luggage space will be adequate. The movable luggage board is a great feature with which to hide items in the boot. An area of concern is room in the rear and, with two children sitting either side of a baby seat, it’s tight. Luckily, there are other vehicles in the long-term fleet that I can nab if long trips are on the cards.
Build quality appears very good, but hard plastics abound and I wonder what they will look like at the end of this 12-month test. On the plus side, the elevated driving position is fantastic and the dark cloth upholstery with silver contrast stitching is well liked by my family.
– written by Neil Piper
After 1 month
Mileage now: 647 km
Fuel consumption: 7,48 L/100 km
We like: ride comfort, driving position, slick gearshifts
We don’t like: rear seating space, hard plastics