Suzuki brings back orig­i­nal SUV

Lesotho Times - - Motoring - De­nis Droppa

Suzuki has de­cided to bring back the ve­hi­cle that ba­si­cally in­vented the small-suv seg­ment 27 years ago, the Vitara.

it slots in below Suzuki’s Grand Vitara — which re­mains on sale — as a more compact and af­ford­able SUV with a very ap­peal­ing start­ing price of just un­der 240 grand, al­though you can pay up to 320 grand if you choose the all-wheeldrive Vitara with all the bells and whis­tles.

it shares a plat­form with the Suzuki SX4 hatch­back but the Vitara has more trendy SUV styling and a more use­ful ground clear­ance of 185mm (which is 10mm higher than the SX4).

Ac­cord­ing to Suzuki’s mar­ket re­search most peo­ple (45 per­cent) buy a compact SUV be­cause of its de­sign, while con­sid­er­a­tions such as brand loy­alty (12 per­cent), size (eight per­cent) and off-road per­for­mance (seven per­cent) take a back seat.

if that’s true then the Vitara’s chunky, ad­ven­tur­ous styling is sure to be a hit (squint your eyes just a lit­tle and there’s more than a hint of Range Rover Evoque in that frontal de­sign).

The five mod­els in the Vitara line-up all share the same 1.6-litre nor­mally-as­pi­rated petrol en­gine, but there are three dif­fer­ent spec lev­els, a choice of front or all-wheel drive, and man­ual or au­to­matic trans­mis­sions.

Suzuki ex­pects the bulk of Vitara buy­ers to opt for the front-wheel-drive de­riv­a­tives, and i can vouch that they prob­a­bly won’t be dis­ap­pointed with its gravel-tack­ling abil­ity.

The two-wheel drive ver­sion i drove on the Western Cape me­dia launch had more than suf­fi­cient grip on the rough and rut­ted dirt roads we drove, and there was suf­fi­cient ground clear­ance to avoid the car’s belly scrap­ing any­where.

When driven on gravel at a pace ap­proach­ing mishap lev­els, the elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, which is stan­dard across the five-model range, also quickly brought the Vitara back un­der con­trol.

All­grip all-wheel drive, of­fered on two of the five Vitara mod­els, is a four-mode sys­tem that ac­tively di­vides power be­tween the front and rear axles to suit vary­ing driv­ing con­di­tions. All­grip also of­fers hill de­scent con­trol.

But what im­pressed me most was the Vitara’s cushy ride qual­ity, and the yield­ing in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion and high-pro­file tyres made this Suzuki com­fort­ably ho-hum its way over bumpy roads.

it seems solidly built too, and driv­ing over those scarred roads failed to evoke any mean­ing­ful rat­tles.

Though it’s smaller than its Grand Vitara cousin, the Vitara is roomy enough to take a full load of adult pas­sen­gers. At 1.8 me­tres tall i was able to com­fort­ably sit in the back seat be­hind the driver’s seat set to my po­si­tion. The 375 litres of lug­gage space is also semi de­cent, ex­pand­ing to 710 litres with the seat­backs folded down.

A lug­gage board al­lows the lug­gage space to be di­vided for flex­i­ble load­ing so­lu­tions.

The Vitara is well specced with com­forts too: stan­dard fare across the range in­cludes tilt and reach-ad­justable steer­ing, an au­dio sys­tem with USB and Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity, trip com­puter, man­ual air­con, front elec­tric win­dows, and re­mote cen­tral lock­ing.

Also stan­dard are seven airbags, ABS brakes, and the above­men­tioned ESP, and the Vitara achieved a five-star EURONCAP score.

Mov­ing up to GL+ spec adds items like rear elec­tric win­dows, cruise con­trol, au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol, 16 inch al­loy rims (com­pared to steel on the en­try-level GL), and smarter in­te­rior and ex­te­rior fin­ishes.

The range-top­ping GLX is fur­ther glammed up with big­ger (17 inch) al­loys, panoramic glass sun­roof, LED day­time run­ning lights, suede up­hol­stery, park­ing sen­sors, key­less start­ing, au­to­matic head­lamp ac­ti­va­tion and hill hold con­trol.

With its out­puts of 86kw and 151Nm the 1.6 en­gine is mod­estly pow­ered, es­pe­cially in torque, com­pared to the turbo en­gines that are be­com­ing de rigeur in this mar­ket seg­ment. The Ecosport’s 1-litre turbo (92kw and 170Nm) and Nis­san Juke’s 1.2 turbo (85kw/190nm) will eas­ily out­gun it, es­pe­cially at high al­ti­tude.

— IOL

Suzuki Vitara.

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