vitara - suzuki vitara turbo 03 - Suzuki Vitara Turbo: smaller is betterer

What is it?

You might mistakenly believe Vitara is the larger of Suzuki’s SUVs. You’d be wrong.

Although more expensive, it is actually smaller than its sibling S-Cross, 125mm shorter to be exact, with a 100mm shorter wheelbase.

Sales-wise Vitara is Suzuki’s second most successful model behind the Swift.

It is more attractive, with some interesting colour combinations that include the roof, and the cabin has a more upmarket feel — although there’s plenty of hard plastic to be found if you go looking.

It’s also better equipped, particularly in terms of safety.

vitara - suzuki vitara turbo 05 - Suzuki Vitara Turbo: smaller is betterer

What’s it cost?

There’s three grades: Vitara, Vitara Turbo and Vitara Turbo Allgrip, priced from $22,490.

Metallic paint is an extra $500 and two-tone with a different coloured roof is another $1250.

Our test vehicle, the Vitara Turbo, is $29,990 while the AllGrip, which as its name suggests, boasts all-wheel drive — is priced from $33,990.

The entry grade is powered by a 1.6-litre four cylinder petrol engine, while the latter two get a punchier, 1.4-litre tubocharged unit that produces 20 percent more power and 40 percent more torque.

Our Turbo was finished in Savannah Ivory with Cosmic Black Roof and comes with single zone climate control airconditioning and is trimmed in an attractive leather and quilted suede combo.

Standard kit includes keyless entry and start, tilt and reach adjust steering wheel, 17-inch alloys, rear view camera, LED headlights, active cruise control, auto lights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, 7.0-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and 6-speaker audio.

The safety stuff now includes Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), lane departure warning, weaving alert, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and finally rear cross traffic alert.

vitara - suzuki vitara turbo 11 - Suzuki Vitara Turbo: smaller is betterer

What’s it go like?

Like the S-Cross, it gets along just fine.

The 1.4-litre turbo with 103kW and 220Nm of torque, the latter from 1500 right through to 4000 revs, is worth every cent of the extra outlay.

Vitara is 15kg heavier than S-Cross, but this one has a 75kg advantage over the all-wheel drive version making it more agile and responsive.

The engine is paired witrh a 6-speed auto that includes steering wheel mounted gear change paddles.

The combination delivers punchy, aggressive performance and if you’re really keen, you can switch to manual mode and start changing gears yourself.

But really with plenty of torque on tap it’s more of a novelty and not something you’ll do often.

Suspension is Mac strut at the front with a basic, torsion beam rear setup, and it rides on 17 inch alloys with 215/55 profile rubber.

The car sits flat, feels taught and has a firmish ride, and can be driven ethusiastically with confidence.

Steering is accurate and the brakes bite hard and more than up to the job.

The analogue clock between the air vents is a classy touch, but we’d gladly swap it for a digital speedo.

Why do so many car companies overlook this useful item?

You do however get some other nifty info by cycling through the trip computer, including graphs for poweer and torque.

The dash is dominated by a 7.0-inch touchscreen that responds to voice commands and has satellite navigation built in, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Fuel consumption from the 47-litre tank is a claimed 5.9L/100km and it takes standard 91 RON unleaded. We were getting 6.8 after more than 400km.

Rear legroom is okay thanks to scooped out seatbacks in front, but that’s not saying much.

Cargo capcity with the rear set in use is 375 litres, with a hidden area under the floor which in turn hides a space saver spare.

S-Cross in comparison has 430 litres.

vitara - suzuki vitara turbo 08 - Suzuki Vitara Turbo: smaller is betterer

What we like?

  • Good looks
  • Solid engineering
  • Stong performance
  • Good fuel economy
  • Practical compact wagon
  • Built-in satellite navigation

vitara - suzuki vitara turbo 07 - Suzuki Vitara Turbo: smaller is betterer

What we don’t like?

  • No digital speedo
  • No rear air vents
  • Hand brake wrong side
  • No speed camera warnings
  • Touchscreen at times unresponsive
  • No power or USB outlets in armrest box
  • Ride on the firm end of the spectrum

vitara - suzuki vitara turbo 12 - Suzuki Vitara Turbo: smaller is betterer

The bottom line?

It might be a bit more expensive but you’d take Vitara every day over the S-Cross. It’s better finished, better equipped, with the latest pro-active safety aids and just looks and feels NOICER.

vitara - suzuki vitara turbo 14 - Suzuki Vitara Turbo: smaller is betterer

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Suzuki Vitara Turbo, priced from $29,990
  • 7.5/10
    Looks - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Performance - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Safety - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Thirst - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Practicality - 8/10
  • 7.5/10
    Comfort - 7.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Tech - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Value - 8/10
7.8/10

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.