Ladies & Gentlemen Of The Jury: The latest model Suzuki Vitara, when it was launched last year, was seen as a real step up in quality from the popular Japanese brand. I liked it very much. What I personally wasn’t so keen on was the available engines which I felt, although fine at what they did, were lacking in vitality. That’s all changed now thanks to the new Suzuki Vitara S with it’s fun and feisty 1.4L Boosterjet turbo motor. Now it is the car it always wanted to be.
The Case For The Interior
This small SUV (it is more than just another crossover) offers plenty of storage and ample legroom without being massively cumbersome like its full-sized SUV competition. The cascading piano-black dashboard is blissfully button free with most functions controlled through a touchscreen or via the leather steering wheel. It’s all straightforward and on the whole it works well. The electronics that we now expect are all on board with Cruise, USB, Climate Control and the like as well as a standout Bluetooth system with music steaming.
The seats are perfectly comfortable and there’s room for five at a pinch. The boot offers a reasonable 375L of space or 710L with the rear seats folded. Perfectly adequate plus the boot has hidden depths, literally. In addition to boot side-pods there’s also security storage beneath the false floor and beneath that is the spare wheel well. Our test car had a kit installed which I don’t like, preferring a space-saver option.
Overall, the cabin is a decent place to be. Certainly, the interior plastics are hard but at least they have a textured finish and appear robust. Remember this range-topping version costs just under £21,000 which, for what you get, is a bit of a bargain. There is no reason why a family would not be happy inside the Suzuki Vitara S. No, it is not plush and clad with the finest hide but if that sort of thing doesn’t bother you or your budget doesn’t stretch that far then you could do a lot worse.
The Case For The Exterior
I reckon this is a good-looking motor. It serves no purpose for me to describe it because you can see it for yourself in the images (Circumstances meant that I was unable to snap the test car. These pics are courtesy of Suzuki). The chunky looks of the Suzuki Vitara S makes it stand out from its siblings thanks to a different grille, a unique rear spoiler and dramatic black alloys. My opinion is that of all the cars in this competitive sector this is one of the most handsome. There’s a full specification of the test car reproduced below.
The Case For Road Ability
Traditionally, Suzuki are masters at delivering good four-wheel-drive systems and the Vitara S features the latest AllGrip technology which is simplicity itself to use. Leave it in Auto and the car will drive two wheels economically but will switch drive to the corner with the best grip should the need arise. Sport mode makes maximal use of four-wheel drive in accordance with accelerator inputs. At low and mid-range engine speeds, the system alters the accelerator/torque characteristics to optimise engine response and cornering.
On the road, Sport was my default mode. When things get muddy, icy or snowy just click over to Snow mode for added all-wheel security. 4WD can be locked too to get the car out of sticky situations. A great system. For additional safety this model gets Radar Brake Support providing early warning of a possible front end shunt by way of a loud klaxon-like noise which would awaken the dead. This can be adjusted via a Far/Near control depending on how adventurous you are. It’s a very good idea but it makes no allowance for driving style which means confident drivers might find it to be a bit presumptuous. Still, safety first eh?
The Case For Boosterjet
The Vitara S model is the first Suzuki to be launched that utilises the new Boosterjet technology petrol engine with a lively 138bhp 1.4L direct injection turbocharged unit. This new engine has compact dimensions and offers 162lb/ft of torque available from just 1,500rpm through to 4,000rpm.
The Boosterjet engine is a newly developed Suzuki motor that is characterised, they say, by improved fuel efficiency and driving pleasure that has been made possible by using a small displacement, high torque turbocharger.
By controlling the wastegate valve, which closes to create higher boost pressure during heavy load operation and remains open during normal driving, this new engine reduces pumping loss, thus achieving high levels of both power and fuel-efficiency. An air bypass valve is also utilised to prevent turbo ‘stall’ after the throttle has been closed and then quickly reopened.
There’s plenty more tech-talk where that came from but the point is that the manufacturer has reduced engine size and, crucially, weight and that accordingly delivers a surprisingly lively drive (especially in Sport mode) via a six-speed manual ‘box. Alternatively you can order an automatic, which I haven’t tried, but this SUV is such a blast to drive that I wouldn’t bother. It really is fun.
The Suzuki Vitara S handles fine for a tall car, riding well on the road. The only slight downside on the tested vehicle was quite a lot of noise on some road surfaces from the fitted Continental EcoContact tyres. The official time to 62mph is a modest 10.2 seconds but on the go it seems quicker than that with the legal limit arriving in no time at all whilst emitting just 127g/km of the nasty stuff.
A Verdict Is Reached
The verdict is unanimous. The Suzuki Vitara S is guilty of being a great car for the money. It has been clearly established that this vehicle is of good standing with a cheerful personality. It should be released onto your drive without a stain on its character. I rest my case. Geoff Maxted