Suzuki Vitara Driving Impression
JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng – For several years, Suzuki Auto South Africa has offered the Vitara exclusively with a naturally aspirated 1,6-litre petrol engine. Although offering reliable performance, up at the reef you really needed to rev the engine to achieve any meaningful performance. But this has all changed with a new model in the facelifted range...
Under the bonnet of the new Turbo variant you'll find a BoosterJet-branded 1,4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which develops 103 kW (the same as the Swift Sport) and 220 N.m (only 10 N.m down on the warm hatch's peak figure). This is an appreciable increase on the 1,6-litre’s 86 kW and 151 N.m, with the torque figure increasing by an impressive 46 percent.
Interestingly, both of these engines will be offered in the local line-up, with the new manual Turbo retailing for R378 900 in GLX trim (with the automatic version coming in at R397 900). According to the Japanese firm, the new model will complete the 0-100 km/h sprint in 9,5 seconds. It bears a fuel consumption figure of 5,8 L/100 km.
Behind the wheel
We are able to spent a number of the days with Vitara in and around Johannesburg, with our test car coming fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox. Equipped with this engine, it's difficult to fault the Vitara’s performance. Depress the throttle pedal and watch the rev needle head to between 3 000 and 4 000 r/min and already there's a significant amount of torque on which you can count to out-accelerate and overtake traffic. Should you rev the engine all the way to the red line, you'll be thoroughly surprised by the compact SUV’s gutsy performance.
The gearlever slips easily into each ratio while the driving position is comfortable. Equipped with 17-inch wheels wrapped in sensible-sized tyres, the ride quality is decent with most road irregularities easily absorbed.
We were able to connect an iPhone to the Vitara’s Apple CarPlay-equipped infotainment system without any issues, effectively allowing some phone functions to be mirrored to the seven-inch touchscreen. Although the windowsill offers hard plastic, the rest of the cabin features semi-luxurious trimmings such as the soft material on the door cards above the arm rest. The comfortable seats offer a combination of leather with inner suede parts, along with white stitching.
Our test unit also featured a two-tone finish with a white roof and pillars, adding to the overall modern styling. Compared with competitors, Suzuki also features an impressive range of official accessories to customise the vehicle.
If you're after an all-wheel-drive model, you will still have to opt for the naturally aspirated 1,6-litre engine in the GLX AllGrip variant. However, after sampling the Vitara 1,4T GLX, we can easily recommend it above the 1,6-litre models. If there were a massive price difference, one could still build a case for the free-breathing models, but there isn’t. The 1,6 GLX retails for R373 900 and the 1,4T GLX for just R5 000 more. And, of course, the latter provides better engine performance and an improved driving experience in virtually every way.
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