HIGH RIDERS ZIP ALONG
Black wheels only indicator of turbo under the hood, JOSHUA DOWLING writes
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.