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In-depth reviews

Suzuki Vitara review - Engines, performance and drive

Nimble handling makes the Vitara fun to drive - especially if you pick the 1.4 Boosterjet

The high-riding Suzuki Vitara backs up sprightly performance with agile and engaging handling.

Suzuki says its aim with the Vitara was to make it drive like the 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 and it rolls 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, too.

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 1.0 SZ-T or 1.4 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.

Four transmission settings - Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock – change where the power is sent. Auto is a two-wheel drive fuel-saving mode for when you’re cruising on the motorway, while permanent four-wheel drive modes Snow and Lock can help extricate you from sticky spots. Sport sends power to the rear tyres when needed, according to throttle inputs.

Engines

The 118bhp 1.6-litre diesel was dropped with the 2018 facelift, but that's no bad thing, as it was pretty agricultural on anything more than half throttle. Similarly the rev-hungry 118bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine was also ditched.

There is now a 1.0-litre turbo three-cylinder as the entry point to the range. This makes 111bhp and gives the Vitara a 0-62mph time of 11.5 seconds, which is the same as the old 1.6 - the real reason the 1.6 was replaced was because the 1.0 is more efficient.

The 1.4-litre turbo is a good pick. It makes 140bhp, and it gives the Vitara that turn of pace it's been missing, meaning it’s more capable on the motorway and better at passing slower traffic, thanks to its 220Nm of torque. 0-62mph arrives in 9.5 seconds and its top speed is 124mph.

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