The Star: May 30, 2019




BY ross KiDDie





I have to keep reminding myself, the Suzuki Vitara

has nothing in common with its stablemate, the

Grand Vitara, other than the name.

The most notable reason for this is the Vitara

doesn’t sit on a ladder chassis, it has a monocoque

platform and, in contrast, it has an engine that sits

east-west in the engine bay.

Of course, that makes it a lot softer than the goanywhere

Grand, its four-wheel-drive system will

take you places seriously off-road.

However, the Vitara does have four-wheel-drive

on some variants, but mostly it is a vehicle which is

based around two-wheel-drive (front) mechanicals.

For 2019, the Vitara has just undergone a fairly

healthy facelift, it includes a raft of new equipment,

mostly for safety, but there is also new frontal

treatment and a host of cosmetic upgrades inside.

The Vitara has never been short on safety kit, it

has always had a five-star Australasian New Car

Assessment Program rating, but the new inclusions

keep it well in touch with what buyers expect in a

new car purchase.

The Vitara lands here in five variants, starting

from $27,990 and ending at $38,790. The range is

interesting, buyers have the choice of two fourcylinder

petrol engines, a naturally-aspirated

1.6-litre or a 1.4-litre turbocharged unit. The

1.6 offers the choice of manual or automatic

transmission, the turbo engine is automatic and, as

I’ve mentioned, two and four-wheel-drive options

sit along the way.

The evaluation car was the range-topping All-Grip

turbocharged model, and with two-tone paint adds


Under the bonnet, the 1373cc engine is rated with

strong power outputs for its size. Suzuki claim

outputs of 103kW and 220Nm, both realised low in

the rev band at 5500rpm for power with a long flat

torque curve stretching from 1500rpm to 4000rpm.

That’s the secret to its performance, the engine feels

strong right through the rev band, it is eager and

drives smoothly through a six-speed conventional


Performance is surprisingly swift, the turbo

Vitara will lunge to 100km/h in 9sec. However,

what Suzuki does best is fuel economy relative

to performance. It claims a 6.2-litre per 100km

(46mpg) combined cycle average, which is pretty

tidy when you consider the turbo boost, although it

must be considered, unlike the naturally aspirated

unit, the turbo engine needs 95 to 98 octane.

The Vitara steers keenly into a corner and has

definite directional accuracy. This from a sport

utility vehicle which is firmly aimed at the family

transport market. The suspension is biased towards

the soft side, but there’s just enough firming in the

springs and dampers to arrest body roll in a corner

and absorb rough surface undulations. Bear in

mind, too, there are drive modes which enhance

grip depending on the surface encountered – auto,

snow, sport and diff lock.

The Vitara’s all-round performance is

commendable, the turbo engine adds an element of

fun for the driver; along with the benefits of strong

mid-range boost it is a safe, quick vehicle when

overtakes present themselves.

Mostly, though, the Vitara is there as a comfortable

five-seater for those who like what mid-size SUVs

offer. While rear seat occupants don’t have a huge

amount of leg room, space back there is acceptable,

and the bonus is there’s a healthy 375-litres of cargo

space behind the rear seats. With those folded

forward up to 710-litres can be carried inside.

For 30 years Vitara, in its many forms, has been a

solid seller for Suzuki. If you look at the number

which grace our roads, NZ-new and imports,

suggests it is a force to be reckoned with.

If you don’t need the capability of the Grand, then

the Vitara is still a worthwhile purchase. As much

as I like the fun element the turbo model offers,

I’d be a manual entry-level buyer At $28k it is a

bargain offering, and with all Suzuki models it will

have longevity on its side, the result of the quality

the company builds into all of its models.











The above vehicles are factory backed,

New Zealand new, designed for our unique conditions and all feature

next-generation technology. These highly fuel-efficient Suzuki vehicles are

purpose-built for minimum environmental impact and maximum enjoyment.

In New Zealand, Suzuki’s new vehicle fleet is the cleanest of any mainstream brand. (2018 result for top 10 vehicle manufacturers.)

You’ll get an unbeatable 10 years cover from no deposit, with easy terms and a low interest rate.

At Hollands, it’s so much more than just FREE servicing. It’s a stress free purchase and ownership experience.

HOLLANDS SUZUKI CARS – CHRISTCHURCH: 2–4 Shakespeare Rd Ph: 03 366 5261. Open 7 days. TIMARU: North Street Ph: 03 684 4408.

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