Independent review by Peter Hayward from Driving Force
- Four-wheel drive
- Economical powertrains
- Great value for money
- Less kerb appeal than rivals
- No sporty variant
- Interior could be of a higher quality
What's the Suzuki Vitara like?
Since 2015, the Suzuki Vitara has offered a true alternative to the majority of family-sized SUVs – and one with excellent long term reliability.
True, it doesn’t have the same rough, tough, go anywhere reputation previous models enjoyed, but many are still available with proper four-wheel drive (4WD) for those that want or need it.
And despite that lesser go anywhere reputation, the Allgrip 4WD versions of the Vitara are almost impossible to stop, even over very difficult terrain.
When this model came out, there were just two engine options – a 1.6-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel – both with 120bhp.
The petrol reaches 60mph from rest in 11.1 seconds and is capable of 45mpg, and while the diesel takes the same time for the sprint, it’s capable of a superb 60mpg.
Figures are for the front-wheel drive version, but the Allgrip 4x4 is only slightly slower, and it loses just 3mpg.
In 2016, a new S version was launched, with the same Boosterjet 1.4-litre turbo engine later used in the Swift Sport.
Performance was markedly improved over the 1.6-litre, with the benchmark sprint now taking a sprightly 9.2 seconds and economy of 40+mpg.
However, this first 1.4-litre model had slightly lowered and stiffened suspension, and was not as comfortable as the 1.6-litre.
This changed in 2019, when the 1.6-litre engine was replaced by the 1.4-litre as the main power unit, and a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder Boosterjet was added below it, with similar performance to the 1.6-litre, but lower emissions and 53mpg economy. The diesel was dropped at the same time.
All the engines have been available with a 6-speed automatic gearbox at different times, but the petrol 1.6-litre had a 5-speed manual as standard while the diesel had a 6-speed.
Of course, many SUV owners don’t want 4WD, because they don’t need it, and it does increase emissions and reduce economy somewhat.
But Suzuki has accommodated them with a goodly number of front-wheel versions included in the range.
Earlier Allgrip models have on-demand 4WD, which means that you have to manually select it when you need it. Otherwise, the power goes to the front wheels.
Latterly, this was changed to an automatic system with Auto, Sport, Snow, and Lock choices.
Auto leaves the car in front-wheel drive until 4WD is needed, and Sport gives the best settings for more press-on driving on the road.
Snow obviously gives the best traction for soft going of any kind, and Lock makes that even better by locking the centre differential.
This is a very eye-catching car with good road manners and a spacious interior – plus that great rep for reliability – making it very sought after on the used market.
The latest models come in just two trim levels, SZ-4 and SZ-T, and both come very well-equipped.
Earlier mid-range SZ-4 comes with air conditioning, split fold back seats, heated mirrors, alloys, excellent seat adjustment, alarm system, audio remote control, loads of airbags, and traction control.
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Find your Suzuki Vitara your way with CarStore
The Suzuki Vitara is a small SUV that offers something a little different than the majority of its rivals. With four-wheel drive widely available, a range of equipment as standard, and a comfortable ride, it makes for great value for money and a top choice for those looking for a compact, yet practical, SUV.
Here at CarStore, you're able to buy your car your way. Whether that be online, in-person, or a mix of both, the choice is yours. With an extensive variety of used cars available, we're sure to have a car that suits your lifestyle.