Vi­tara Turbo is a keeper

ALL-ROUND IM­PRES­SION: SUZUKI’S OF­FER­ING IS PRETTY, RE­SPON­SIVE AND FUEL EF­FI­CIENT

The Citizen (KZN) - - Motoring - An­dre de Kock

Flat torque curve en­ables SUV to pull en­er­get­i­cally from just 1 200rpm.

First im­pres­sions, clever peo­ple say, last for­ever. They are, of course, wrong. Take sport­ing vic­to­ries, for in­stance. The day af­ter the Spring­boks’ re­cent Rugby World Cup vic­tory, one would have though South Africa was a brand new coun­try, where trust­wor­thi­ness, re­spect for oth­ers, pros­per­ity of the masses and, in­deed, all-in­clu­sive love, reigned.

A week later, we re­alised we are still be­ing gov­erned by crim­i­nals, loot­ing po­lit­i­cal bu­reau­crats are still above the law and our lame duck pres­i­dent’s job still is to make sooth­ing noises while we watch the rul­ing party steal our coun­try bank­rupt.

Some­times, it can work the other way around. Take Suzuki’s new Vi­tara Turbo, for in­stance.

When Suzuki launched their new ve­hi­cle range some months ago, they used the Red Star Race­way near Del­mas to in­tro­duce the Swift Sport and Vi­tara mod­els. On the day, mo­tor­ing scribes got to drive Vi­taras to the cir­cuit and Swifts on the cir­cuit.

Nat­u­rally, we all fell deeply in love with the Swift, while be­ing mildly im­pressed with the Vi­tara.

It works like that – when I was a lot younger, girls who let you ex­plore inside their cloth­ing on a first date rated a lot higher than those who took you to meet their grand­moth­ers.

Three days af­ter driv­ing the new Vi­tara, I for­got all about it.

Which was an in­jus­tice, as I found when Suzuki sup­plied me with one for a re­cent seven-day driv­ing im­pres­sion.

Used for my daily com­mute be­tween home and work – mostly in city traf­fic – the lit­tle SUV proved amaz­ingly like­able.

The Vi­tara comes pow­ered by a 1 373cc four-cylin­der, tur­bocharged petrol en­gine, which ren­ders 103kW of power at 5 500rpm and 220Nm of torque be­tween 1 500 and 4 000rpm.

The test model was equipped with a six-speed man­ual gear­box, which sends the grunt and twist to the front wheels.

It has a gross ve­hi­cle weight of 1 730kg and is 4 175mm long, 1 775mm wide and 1 610mm high.

Suzuki say they have equipped the new Vi­tara with a trape­zoidal lower front in­take, a clamshell bon­net with a power bulge, a slop­ing roofline, thick C-pil­lars and an ac­cen­tu­ated rear hipline. We do not un­der­stand com­plex ter­mi­nol­ogy like that – we thought it looked pretty much like most other smaller SUVs. Best you pe­ruse the pho­to­graphs and de­cide for your­self.

The whole pack­age sits on 17inch al­loy wheels in 215/55R17 rub­ber – sadly com­ple­mented by our pet hate – a Marie Bis­cuit steel “space saver” spare wheel. Ah well, noth­ing is per­fect.

Inside, the Vi­tara boasts steer­ing-mounted con­trols for the au­dio and cruise con­trol sys­tems, park dis­tance con­trol all round, au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol, a multi-in­for­ma­tion full-colour dis­play in the in­stru­ment bin­na­cle, plus a seven-inch touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with smart­phone con­nec­tiv­ity for Ap­ple CarPlay, An­droid Auto and Mir­rorLink sys­tems.

Ac­tive safety items in­clude disc brakes all round with anti-lock brak­ing sys­tem, elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion and brake-as­sist, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol and trac­tion con­trol.

Should you still crash, there are seven airbags, side and cross body im­pact zones and seat­belts all round to keep you from whack­ing things harder than your­self.

The Vi­tara proved very easy to drive – with such low weight and a healthy power out­put, it was nippy in traf­fic.

More im­pres­sive was the flat torque curve that would see the ve­hi­cle start pulling en­er­get­i­cally from just more than 1 200rpm, all the way to 4 000rpm, and short-shift­ing was a plea­sure with the smooth six-speed gear­box.

The steer­ing is direct and in­spires con­fi­dence – the ve­hi­cle just goes ex­actly where you point it, im­me­di­ately.

The Vi­tara – just like the Swift did on a race­track – makes you feel you are ac­tu­ally driv­ing well – al­ways a good – if dan­ger­ous - il­lu­sion for old peo­ple like my­self.

An­other pleas­ant sur­prise was the fuel con­sump­tion, at 6.4l/100km over our week.

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