- Plenty of choice with option of 4WD
- Smart interior and well equipped as standard
- Practical compacy SUV and packed with safety tech
- Engine gets quite vocal at faster speed
- Top model tops the £30k mark
- Manual gearbox only available on the mild hybrid version
The latest Suzuki Vitara was launched back in 2015 and over recent years has undergone a number of changes with more dynamic styling, the addition of mild hybrid technology, extra safety features and now we get full hybrid versions. Every Suzuki car is now available with hybrid technology, be it mild 48-volt, plug-in or full hybrid systems. And there will be a fully electrified car on sale before 2025. The seven-model Vitara line-up offers customers plenty of choice with a 1.4-litre mild hybrid version or the 1.5-litre full hybrid model. There are two trim levels called SZ-T and SZ5 and customers have the option of adding ALLGRIP 4WD too.
On The Road
The latest Vitara features an all-new hybrid system so it is different from the one powering the Suzuki Swace. There is a new four-cylinder, 1.5-litre petrol engine with a 140-volt lithium battery combined with a 24kW electric motor. The car is automatic-only with Suzuki's AGS system which stands for Automated Gear Select. However, there are paddles so the car can be driven similarly to a manual car if desired. With 115PS of power and 138Nm of torque, the Vitara Full Hybrid can reach 62mph from a standing start in 13.5 seconds and tops out at 111mph. It's not the fastest when it come to sharp acceleration and the engine does get a little rev-happy if pushed particularly hard, but if treated with a little respect, this Vitara performs nicely enough. The road holding is assured with minimal signs of body sway, but you do have to plan ahead before overtaking as there is no instant turn of pace. There are new Eco and Standard drive models that alter the car's reactions, and our test car also featured ALLGRIP 4WD with a choice of settings called Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock. While It's not a fully blown off roader, this Vitara can certainly cope with any adverse weather conditions or more challenging terrain.
The Suzuki Vitara is a five-door SUV that delivers a comfortable ride for its occupants and can cope well with open roads. motorways or city driving. It takes a little while to pick up speed but can cruise effortlessly at 70mph, In fact, it's impressive just how quiet the car is as it powers along at higher speeds. Credit to Suzuki for its work on insulating the cabin and blocking out the surface, engine or wind noise. If pushed too enthusiastically through the switch back lanes then you will get a warning about body sway, but generally the Vitara copes admirably with any hill climbs. Our test car - in high ends SZ5 ALLGRIP guise - was riding on 17-inch alloy wheels which seemed like the perfect match. Too often cars are fitted with oversized wheels that look amazing but do impact on ride quality as well as fuel efficiency. The 2022 Vitara features a new suspension set-up too that offers higher rigidity and also improves the car's stability. It does a great job of ironing out the rougher road surfaces along the way. The clever ALLGRIP 4W system has four selectable modes called Auto, Sport, Snow and lock. Auto is best for maximising the fuel efficiency and uses two-wheel drive as a default, Sport is ideal for twisting road, snow offers additional grip in the snow of when travelling on other slippery surfaces and, finally, Lock is used for extricating the car from snow, mud or sand.
The latest Vitara was given a fresh new look back in 2019 with restyled LED lights plus a new front grille and bumper. It is certainly a good looking compact crossover with a black contrasting roof (the only optional extra at £835), rear privacy glass, roof rails, a chrome front grille, wheel arch extensions, black mirror caps and a double sliding panoramic sunroof. Moving inside, the car features lots of soft-touch surfaces, smart suede seat trim plus the latest instrument panels, And Suzuki listened to customer feedback by installing a front armrest back in 2019. that has been carried through to the latest model. Another area where Suzuki excels is the Simplicity of its line-ups and the generous level of technology that is fitted as standard. And the Vitara is the perfect example of that. Customers choose either mild or full hybrid technology. It's worth noting the mild hybrid is being phased out apart from a manual option. then they need to select beween SZ-T or SZ% specification levels and finally, whether or not to add ALLGRIP 4W. The only optional extra is a two-tone colour choice that adds a contrast coloured roof. New Citara is available in 11 different shades. One is a solid colour, with all the others in metallic finish. And there are six dual-tones metallic with the Cosmic Black roof.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
With ample manual seat and steering wheel adjustment, getting a comfortable driving position is a simple process. And with its slightly elevated seating position, the driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility. This is ‘a must have’ in a family SUV that will feature regularly on the school run. there is lots of onboard kit to explore and the layout is simplistic and driver-focused for ease of use. Creature comforts include, Bluetooth, a six-speaker sound system, sat nav, DAB digital radio, a rearview parking camera and smartphone connectivity. The infotainment screen is fairly compact in size, but works fine with steering wheel controls to access many on-board features. There is adaptive cruise control with a speed limiter which is really practical with so many stretches of road restricted by variable speed limits these days. on the downside, I did find the steering a little light at times. This is great for city driving with lots of turning, but less impressive on the faster B roads.
Space & Practicality
With competition so fierce in the compact SUV sector, your car really needs to stand out and with its attractive pricing and good looks, the Vitara has plenty of appeal.
And it meets the demands when it comes to practicality too. It measures 4,175mm in length, is 1,775mm wide, 1,610mm high and has a wheelbase stretching 2,500mm. Those dimensions result in good space within the car with ample room in the back for two adults. The middle seat would be fine for shorter journeys too, or for a youngster to sit comfortably.
Despite its sloping roofline, the headroom in the back is still okay for tall passengers and storage options are also decent with a boot that can swallow 289 litres of kit, increasing to 642 litres with the 60:40 split folding rear seats dropped down.
An adjustable boot floor means you can separate items such as muddy boots from the rest of your luggage and there are hooks, along with deep pockets in the boot to prevent items rolling around.
Additional convenient storage facilities include a console box, glovebox, front cup holders, door bins with bottle compartments and some useful trays to put your phone and keys etc.
With its wide-opening rear doors, the Vitara would be ideal for anyone who needs to transport children and there are Isofix child seat anchors.
The Vitara range is priced from £23,749 for the SZ-T mild hybrid model. Moving up to the SZ-T full hybrid adds £1,750 to the cost so will be priced at £25,499. This is only available with 2WD.
The range-topping SZ5 is priced from £27,499 and if you want ALLGRIP 4WD that adds an extra £1,800 so the final price-tag would be £29,299.
That was the car we tested and it also featured the only optional extra – dual-tone paintwork – costing £835. This meant our Vitara just topped the £30k mark at £30,134.
When it comes to day-to-day running costs, our Vitara Full Hybrid could deliver combined fuel economy of 48.4mpg with carbon emissions of 132g/km under WLTP testing.
Although the price of the full hybrid Vitara is a step up from the mild-hybrid version, Suzuki has calculated that owners who cover 10,000 miles annually would save £10 each month thanks to the clever hybrid technology.
The CO2 emissions of 132g/km would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £220 and this would drop to the standard hybrid vehicle fee of £145 after 12 months.
The insurance group for our test car was 16.
Quality & Reliability
Carmakers need a unique selling point to attract customers in the competitive compact SUV sector and Suzuki has just that. In 2021, it finished the year as the number one brand for customer trust and that is something the company is quite rightly very proud of.
The ALLGRIP 4W adds the reassurance that the car will carry on in more testing driving conditions and the Vitara also boasts an 18.2-degree approach angle and a 28.2-degree departure angle to help the driver when faced with trickier terrain.
The body features Suzuki’s Total Effective Control technology concept that offers occupant protecting impact absorption and low weight. Extensive use of ultra-high tensile steel helps to make the Vitara extra safe in the event of a crash and also more fuel efficient.
The cabin is well constructed and, although there are a few hard plastics, Suzuki has introduced lots of soft-touch finishes to improve the standard. The switchgear feels sturdy as do the suede-upholstered seats. The touchscreen is a little prone to fingerprints, 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.
Safety & Security
The Suzuki Vitara was awarded the maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating at launch back in 2015. And since then, Suzuki has introduced a number of extra safety features to the car – all included as standard.
Safety systems include blind spot monitor, lane departure warning and lane departure prevention, vehicle sway warning (on ALLGRIP models), adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, ISOFIX anchors, a tyre pressure monitor, seven airbags and lots more besides.
It also has Dual Sensor Brake Support, a system that works between 3mph and 62mph. If it determines there is a collision risk up ahead, it will issue an audio and visual warning. It will then brake if these warnings are ignored.
The Vitara is fitted with an immobiliser, security alarm and has remote central locking to deter uninvited guests.
As a brand, Suzuki is ahead of many competitors when it comes to introducing cleaner, greener models. In fact, all of its car range is now hybrid in one form or another. And we can look forward to an exciting couple of years ahead with the promise of an EV by 2025.