VITARA A HEAD-TURNER
IT'S hard to turn heads in a compact SUV these days because there are so many of them.
But Suzuki 's reborn Vitara does a lot of that with its neat styling and funky colours, and apart from turning heads, is attracting potential buyers like half-price day at Woolworths.
The compact, nicely-styled and funkily-coloured Hungarian-made SUV comes in three models, all similarly powered with a 1.6 litre motor: the 2WD RT-S with a five-speed manual shift, a same-spec variant with a six-speed auto and the RT-X.
The one with the X-factor has more features, including an ondemand four-wheel drive system, a panoramic sunroof, leather/suede seats, front and rear parking sensors, and autoon wipers and headlights.
The base RT-S models are surprisingly well equipped, with satellite navigation, reversing camera, LED daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels and privacy glass all standard.
And with prices starting from $21,990 for the RT-S manual, $23,990 for the automatic model and $31,990 for the allwheel drive RT-X, they put a lot of snooty small cars to shame.
The RT-S is the value star of the range, the sole difference between the manual and automatic being the transmission. We liked the manual but know most folk prefer an auto, and this one comes with paddleshifts on the steering wheel to keep sportier drivers happy. A sporty SUV? Indeed. Despite the average 86kW/156Nm output from its 1.6 litre engine, its light weight, nimble handling and sharp steering give it delightful character. It's also one of the most frugal in its class, with an official average of 5.8 litres/100km for the manual and 6.3 for the AWD RT-X. We got 7.4 on the latter, which we thought pretty decent.
The $31,990 RT-X has an ondemand four-wheel drive system, avast sunroof, leatherand-suede seats, proximity key and all the rest of the good things, plus a rotary selector between the front seats which offers auto, snow and sport modes.
Snow doesn't happen much in WA, so it's best to just leave it in auto for day-to-day travel, although the RT-X's extra 110kg make it a bit sluggish. Switch to sport and the world becomes a much brighter place.
It runs in front wheel drive most of the time and engages all four wheels if it detects slippage. There's no low ratio but the AWD will cope with most light off-road situations.
The new Vitaras have a generous 185mm ground clearance, which make them easy to get in and out of, and they have good accommodation front and rear, plus a spacious twin-deck cargo area.
Of course, it also has all the electronic safety stuff, an easy to operate seven-inch screen, Bluetooth and associated whizzes, but more importantly, it has superb visibility, a tight turning circle and impressive road manners.
Verdict: A bit more power would be nice, but the new Vitara is a sexy, hard-to-fault little beaut.
Suzuki's bornagain Vitara is one of the cutest and best-equipped of its kind.