Suzuki Vitara review - Engines, performance and drive
Nimble handling makes the Vitara fun to drive, while the 1.4 Boosterjet hybrid engine provides a decent turn of pace.
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.
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 1.4 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.
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.
The 1.4-litre Boosterjet 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.
In this review
- 1Suzuki Vitara reviewThe Suzuki Vitara has transformed from a chunky off-roader into a softer crossover
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingNimble handling makes the Vitara fun to drive, while the 1.4 Boosterjet hybrid engine provides a decent turn of pace.
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsLightweight build and efficient hybrid powertrain make the Vitara an economical crossover.
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe sharply suited Suzuki VItara is let down by a cheap-looking interior - but it's very well equipped
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceTwo-wheel-drive versions lack the versatility of the 4x4, but the Vitara's 'crossover' design is practical enough
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe Vitara boasts excellent crash test results, but Suzuki owners seem to have a downer on build quality