Black wheels only in­di­ca­tor of turbo un­der the hood, JOSHUA DOWL­ING writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

IT’S a hot hatch, but not as we know it. Suzuki has added tur­bocharged boost to its Vi­tara SUV, only six months af­ter the ar­rival of the all-new model.

Pow­ered by 1.4-litre petrol en­gine, flag­ship of the fleet un­der­cuts peers on price (when com­pared against equiv­a­lent model grades), start­ing at $29,990 drive-away for the front-wheel-drive au­to­matic. A man­ual is not avail­able.

The all-wheel-drive ver­sion is $32,990 plus on-road costs; there no drive-away of­fer on this model.

Ac­cord­ing to Suzuki, the Vi­tara Turbo does 0-100km/h dash in 9.5 sec­onds ver­sus a leisurely 12.5 sec­onds for the non-turbo 1.6-litre model, which starts at $22,990 drive-away.

But when Carsguide ran num­bers on Vi­tara we recorded a string of iden­ti­cal 8.4-sec­ond 0100km/h times, prov­ing it is quicker than Suzuki’s claim, and ex­tremely con­sis­tent.

While that per­for­mance may not ex­cite revheads, more than enough oomph for this class of “high-rid­ing hatch­backs”.

It’s also a help­ful pointer to what we can ex­pect when the next gen­er­a­tion Suzuki Swift Sport ar­rives in a cou­ple of years.

For some­thing that has so much fire in its belly the en­gine is sur­pris­ingly quiet; you can barely hear it or feel it at idle, and on move it’s a smooth op­er­a­tor.

When ac­cel­er­at­ing, there slightly deeper sound to the en­gine note the rush of energy comes from low revs; is no power de­lay or “turbo lag”.

It is matched well six-speed au­to­matic, which can be op­er­ated man­u­ally via tap shifters on the steer­ing wheel if you are so in­clined.

Un­like most other en­gines in this class, the Vi­tara Turbo in­sists on pre­mium un­leaded (95 min­i­mum) but in re­turn it pro­duces ex­cep­tional fuel econ­omy num­bers.

We saw an av­er­age of 6.6L/100km af­ter a 250km mix free­way, city and sub­ur­ban driv­ing (skewed to­wards free­way run­ning).

The strong en­gine trans­mis­sion combo thrive in the well-tuned chas­sis.

steer­ing, sus­pen­sion brakes are un­changed from the reg­u­lar Vi­tara model.

The brakes have strong bite, and the steer­ing makes car feel much smaller than it is.

It rides com­fort­ably over bumps and cor­ners with precision con­fi­dence thanks to Euro­pean tun­ing (this Suzuki is made in Hun­gary) and su­perb Con­ti­nen­tal 17-inch tyres.

Un­like two of the reg­u­lar Vi­tara mod­els we road tested six months ago, the Turbo’s steer­ing does not hunt or wan­der straight ahead po­si­tion at 80km/h. If there has been a sub­tle change in cal­i­bra­tion (we sus­pect has, for the bet­ter) Suzuki is not say­ing.

As the top of Vi­tara range, Turbo comes well equipped with LED head­lights, front and rear sen­sors, a rear view cam­era, Ap­ple CarPlay plus built-in nav­i­ga­tion unit, auto up down win­dow for driver, cruise con­trol, sen­sor key, sports leather seats and steer­ing wheel with red stitch­ing,

red high­lights around the cabin air vents.

Just don’t go look­ing a Turbo badge. The only way to pick this model is the black wheels (rather than grey) and ver­ti­cal bars on the grille than hor­i­zon­tal).

The Vi­tara Turbo is im­pres­sive but there is room for im­prove­ment.

It lacks a large dig­i­tal speed read­out in the in­stru­ment clus­ter, the guid­ing lines rear-view cam­era do not turn with steer­ing, and doors need de­cent shove to close prop­erly (as is case reg­u­lar Vi­tara model).

We are not sure if it is the light weight of the doors or strong rub­ber seals that make

hard to close, but some­thing which you quickly ad­just. A full-size spare would be a wel­come ad­di­tion, too, given there is so much avail­able boot space.

Over­all, though, the Vi­tara Turbo was a pleas­ant sur­prise. The extra grunt com­ple­ments one of sharpest han­dling and most com­fort­able of­fer­ings in baby SUV class.

The Vi­tara Turbo hits a sweet spot. It is a hot hatch with tall driv­ing po­si­tion, is com­pact enough to ma­noeu­vre into or out of tight spa­ces.

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