Suzuki Vitara 2019 Review
Cars on test end up doing all manner of jobs,
from local pottering about to the long haul. It’s how we asses how well they
fit into family life - and it soon flushes out the good and the bad. This week,
our refreshed Vitara has had a harder time than most. Apocalyptic floods, roads
washed away and a 425 mile drive in one day all mean we are extremely familiar
with its nuances.
Suzuki is good at incremental change with plenty
of revisions along the way to keep things fresh. The Vitara has just had a very
gentle facelift but what’s really important is the addition of a one-litre
petrol engine to the range.
Looks-wise, the styling detail changes aren’t
radical but they do tidy it up. The rear lights now have completely red lenses
and the grill design is neater. Small tweaks to he lower bumper design also
make it easier on the eye.
There are subtle changes to the interior too.
The upper instrument panel is now soft-touch material, the central information
panel between the dials is now in colour and seat trims have also been changed.
Overall, the interior of the Vitara is sensible
and feels robust enough to endure everyday life. For what is a modestly-sized
SUV, interior space is respectable and its 375 litre boot (710 with seats down)
is more than adequate for most needs.
Seating is comfortable enough, and although
there is no lumbar adjustment on either front seat, driver and passengers
didn’t suffer even after our nine hour marathon drive in the one day.
Engines and driving
There are just two petrol engine options: the
new one-litre Boosterjet and 1.4 Boosterjet. Both are available as front wheel
drive or ALLGRIP all-wheel-drive. We liked the 1.4 but the one-litre (in 2WD
form) on test this week really is a sweet thing. It might be diminutive in
terms of displacement but it is mighty when it comes to performance.
In fact of all the car’s features, it’s the
engine which has impressed us most. It is quiet, refined, punchy when
opened-up, torquey enough to shift the Vitara when absolutely fully loaded (and
we really did load it up) and however hard we drove it, the fuel consumption
reading stubbornly refused to drop below 43 mpg, whether driving around town or
hooning along the outside lane of the M6.
It’s worth highlighting the well-spaced ratios
in the 5-speed ‘box in the one-litre, with third offering great flexibility for
town and top allowing comfortable motorway miles. An automatic gearbox is an
option with each engine and the 1.4 comes with six gears (except in all ALLGRIP
models which are five-speed).
Other points of note are the Vitara’s good
turning circle and excellent composure over ruts and potholes. We also
appreciated the 185mm ground clearance which was especially welcome on
crumbling lanes and when rain water was being forced upwards out of the sewer
inspection covers in heavy storms.
The range is simple, despite the slightly odd
trim level names: SZ4, SZ-T and SZ5. All come with alloy wheels, climate
control and cruise control. SZ-T ups the wheels to 17-inch from 16-inch and
adds sat-nav, smartphone mirroring, a rear parking camera and DAB radio. SZ5
adds LED headlamps, panoramic glass sunroof, keyless entry, front and rear
parking sensors, electric folding door mirrors, adaptive cruise control and
automatic lights and wipers.
Importantly, the top trim includes some safety
items not available on the lower specifications: dual sensor brake support
(where the car warns of objects ahead and adds braking force in an emergency
stop situation), blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert and lane
departure prevention. Of all these, we’d like to see at least dual sensor brake
support fitted across the range.
While much of the competition has aspired to
become ‘premium’ - and nudged prices accordingly - Suzuki has simply continued
to deliver good quality products with excellent capability. The Vitara is a
perfect example; we don’t award stars to cars here but if we did, it’d receive
a solid five out of five.
About the Author
Andrew is a freelance motoring journalist with a background in IT and the vehicle leasing industry. With a lifetime’s passion for all things automotive, he can be found behind the wheel of everything from vans to supercars. In addition to reviewing the latest vehicles and technology, Andrew also runs a couple of classic British motors. He lives at the edge of the Peak District with his son and cat.
Andrew Wright @theMotorWriter