VI­TARA IS THE NEW BLACK

SUZUKI ADDS EX­TRA GRUNT TO THE COM­PACT SUV

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Bill Buys

WATCH out for Suzuki Vi­taras with black al­loy wheels.

The wheels and a grille with an­gu­lar down­ward, rather than hor­i­zon­tal chromed slats, are the sole signs that they are Vi­taras with ex­tra vi­tal­ity.

Be­cause un­der the neat bon­net is a new 1.4litre Boost­er­jet en­gine that gives the com­pact SUV a lot more zip than the stan­dard mod­els.

The Boost­er­jet is a tur­bocharged petrol unit that pumps out a healthy 103kW and 220Nm, and with a ve­hi­cle mass of only 1160kg, it gives the Vi­tara S Turbo the Red Bull treat­ment.

It's a fair amount of ex­tra wal­lop over the 86kW/156Nm of the stan­dard mod­els.

Avail­able in front or all-wheel drive, all mod­els come with a sixspeed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and at $29,990 drive­away for the 2WD and $32,990 for the AWD, they're about $6000 more than the non­turbo job­bies.

The auto tran­nie has pad­dleshifters for more hands-on driv­ers.

Our 2WD was a perky num­ber that ran to 100km/h in a whisker un­der nine sec­onds and dis­played lin­ear power de­liv­ery right across its rev range.

But an un­ex­pected bonus was its re­mark­able fuel econ­omy.

We av­er­aged 6.8litres/100km on a mix of ur­ban and sub­ur­ban roads, and too­tled along a na­tional road for a while at 5.2litres/ 100km.

Un­like some ri­vals, Suzuki re­frained from adding silly words like ' Sport' to its hot lit­tle SUV.

Th­ese ve­hi­cles are es­sen­tially tall-rid­ing, prac­ti­cal boxes with touches of lux­ury, and some­where along the way the mar­ket­ing folk got lost be­tween 'equip­ment' and 'han­dling', but 'sport' sounded good.

Yet the un­pre­ten­tious Vi­tara Turbo is the sporti­est of the lot.

The turbo en­gine and the slick self-shifter go hand-in-hand with a re­fined and well-sorted chas­sis that cruises over imperfect roads and han­dles corners with con­fi­dence.

It has the same brakes and sus­pen­sion as stan­dard Vi­taras, but runs on 17-inch premium Con­ti­nen­tal rub­ber, which add ex­tra com­fort and grip.

In­ter­est­ingly, the Vi­taras are not made in Ja­pan or Thai­land, but in Hun­gary, which ex­plains their Euro-style road man­ners. Ex­cel­lent fit and fin­ish too, not to men­tion how quiet the car is in­side.

There's lots of room and com­fort – in leather – for four in­side.

Items like a re­vers­ing cam­era, cruise con­trol, a big multi-func­tion touch­screen with sat­nav, Ap­ple CarPlay, LED head and day­time run­ning lights, park­ing radar, and auto-on lights and wipers are all thrown in. We loved the ana­logue clock, set high and cen­tre on the dash.

There's a big dou­ble-deck cargo area too.

Of course it's big on safety, with seven airbags, the usual clump of elec­tronic aids and a five-star Euro Ncap rating.

Fash­ion­istas will love the strik­ing two-tone paint op­tions.

Ver­dict: Space, power, style, han­dling and econ­omy make the Vi­tara S Turbo a stand­out.

Top of its class... Suzuki's new Vi­tara Turbo.

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