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In-depth reviews

Suzuki Vitara - Engines, performance and drive

Nimble handling makes the Suzuki Vitara good to drive, while the 1.4 Boosterjet hybrid engine provides pace

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

3.8 out of 5

Price
£24,829 to £30,379
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Suzuki says its aim with the Vitara was to make it drive like the Suzuki Swift supermini, and it’s not as far off as you might think. The extra weight and higher centre of gravity means it doesn’t change direction quite as quickly as a Swift, and it leans a little more, but it still clings to the road eagerly when you up the pace.

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The steering is relatively light yet offers plenty of feel, and the Suzuki turns into corners with surprising eagerness. Grip is strong, and body movement well contained despite the car’s tall stance.

The raised driving position and light steering make it well-suited to driving around town, but if you want a Suzuki Vitara with the maker’s ALLGRIP four-wheel-drive system, you’ll have to go for a higher-spec SZ5 model. If you want to do some light off-roading, the system is more than happy to oblige, although the latest Vitara can't hold a candle to the older model for off-road ability.

The ALLGRIP system has four settings – Auto, Sport, Snow, and Lock. Auto predominantly keeps the car in two-wheel drive mode to save fuel and will only engage four-wheel drive if the front tyres start to slip. Snow and Lock help to maximise traction in slippery conditions, while Sport alters the accelerator response and sends power to the rear tyres if the system detects the front wheels are starting to slip.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed

The 1.4-litre Boosterjet mild-hybrid makes 127bhp and 235Nm of torque, and it gives the Vitara a decent turn of pace - 0-62mph arrives in 9.5 seconds, with a maximum 118mph. The SZ5 ALLGRIP 4x4 takes a little longer to get up to speed, at 10.2 seconds from 0-62mph.

A Full Hybrid model was added to the range in 2022, replacing automatic versions of the Boosterjet engine. Suzuki and Toyota may have an agreement in place about hybrids (the Swace and Across are rebadged Corolla Touring Sports and RAV4 models respectively) but Suzuki has created its own hybrid powertrain for the Vitara.

With 113bhp and a 0-62mph time approaching 13 seconds, the Vitara Full Hybrid doesn’t look particularly impressive on paper. It’s held back by its lazy automated manual gearbox and a less powerful electrical system than the Toyota Yaris Cross. The electric motor does assist the engine with a little bit of extra power, and attempts to smoother gearchanges with a burst of torque. It’s not always successful, and lacks the smoothness and outright pace of the Yaris Cross.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 Boosterjet SZ4 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £17,150

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.5 Hybrid SZ-T 5dr AGS
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £25,870

Fastest

  • Name
    1.4 Boosterjet SZ-T 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £20,105
Online Reviews Editor

Max looks after the reviews on the Auto Express website. He’s been a motoring journalist since 2017 and has written for Autocar, What Car?, Piston Heads, DrivingElectric, Carbuyer, Electrifying, and Good Motoring Magazine.

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