Suzi’s next gen­er­a­tion

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - CLASSIFIED­S -

SUZUKI re-shaped the Aus­tralian au­to­mo­tive mar­ket with the LJ50 light­weight four-wheel-drive in 1974.

Now it’s do­ing it again with the first com­pact SUV fea­tur­ing rear­wheel drive.

Adam Le Fevre, boss of Queens­land im­porter Suzuki Auto Co, says the five-door SUV mixes ‘‘style with clear­ance’’ and will ap­peal to peo­ple who want to get away for short trips with light-duty tow­ing.

So it was put to the test with an 1800km three-day round trip from Bris­bane to Yep­poon tow­ing a Jayco Dis­cov­ery pop-top car­a­van weigh­ing about 1.3 tonnes with a 120kg ball weight.

The five-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion petrol model has the same 1850kg braked tow­ing ca­pac­ity as the all­wheel-drive vari­ants, but is about 44kg lighter, slightly more eco­nom­i­cal and still has all the ad­van­tages of an SUV lay­out, such as a high driver stance.

Of­fi­cial fuel econ­omy fig­ures say it sips un­leaded petrol at 8.7 litres/100km on av­er­age, which is 0.2 litres/100km bet­ter than the AWD ver­sion.

On our test, it achieved just un­der 10 litres/100km around town, but with the van at­tached it ranged from about 14 litres/100km to a whop­ping 17.6 litres/100km over the Mt Mor­gan ranges sec­tion.

Hills and aero­dy­namic drag at speeds of more than 80km/h had the big­gest ef­fect on fuel econ­omy.

The short draw­bar on the Jayco re­duces the tur­bu­lence be­tween the Suzuki and the van, but a higher tow ve­hi­cle might pre­vent the front of the van act­ing as a wind­sock.

The big­gest ad­van­tage over the AWD model is the $4500 sav­ing on price, although this comes with steel wheels and doesn’t have sat­nav.

But like all five-door Grand Vi­taras, it now comes stan­dard with Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity and au­dio stream­ing plus a handy re­vers­ing cam­era that al­lows you to per­fectly line up your ball cou­pling with­out a guide.

Our test model was also kit­ted out with a Guardian IQ elec­tronic brake con­troller ($300 fit­ted), Coast Four­Bar Level Ride Kit ($175) and ORA ex­tended mir­rors ($139).

The former saved us from rearend­ing a Camry that de­cided to sud­denly stop in front of us.

The weight distri­bu­tion bars ef­fec­tively pre­vented that ‘‘por­pois­ing’’ ef­fect over un­du­la­tions in the road.

How­ever, the ex­tended mir­rors were hope­lessly in­ad­e­quate.

They vi­brated too much for any clear vi­sion, they went out of align­ment when we reached 80km/h and were blown back against the driver’s side win­dow by pass­ing trucks.

The Suzi’s large stan­dard mir­rors are more than ad­e­quate, but ex­tended mir­rors are re­quired by law when you have a van wider than your ve­hi­cle.

Power from the 2.4-litre petrol en­gine is ad­e­quate for tow­ing this van so long as you give it a lit­tle more revs in first and sec­ond gear, how­ever hills quickly sap its strength.

Tow­ing this type of van is prob­a­bly be­yond the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the four­speed auto petrol model. But if you want a prac­ti­cal city run-around with oc­ca­sional light­weight tow­ing thrown in, the Suzi man­ual is a de­pend­able bet.

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