Vitara: Compact SUV packed with features

2016-03-23 06:00
Suzuki Vitara has a sporty, trendy look that reminds one a lot of a more expensive British SUV. The two tone option is part of the personalisation possibilities available on the GL + models. Photo:SUPPLIED

Suzuki Vitara has a sporty, trendy look that reminds one a lot of a more expensive British SUV. The two tone option is part of the personalisation possibilities available on the GL + models. Photo:SUPPLIED

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COMPACT SUVs are all the rage these days – especially for those who are not in the high or low-end of the market, which leaves the middle class and family car market.

I, like most women, like the height and the good visibility which it brings. And apart from being able to climb onto pavements and not having to worry too much when going too fast over that speedbump that just appeared out of nowhere, a compact SUV just looks more fun than most sedans on the road – even for those of us who are not sporty/outdoorsy types.

And the adjective – compact – is also a very important factor. Many buyers are no longer looking for those big bulky, high maintenance SUVs from the old days – the ones that you COULD take off the beaten track or drive on dirt roads.

No - we want the fun and good looks combined with value for money and economy, as well as practicality and an easy, no-fuss sedan-like driving and parking for the urban commute – and that is what compact SUVs offer.

Suzuki’s answer for this market segment is the new Vitara which competes in the compact crossover segment – but which becomes a contender in the compact SUV sector when equipped with Suzuki’s innovative AllGrip all-wheel drive system.

Its competitors include the likes of the Nissan Juke, Ford EcoSport, Renault Duster and Captur, Honda H- RV and Mazda CX-3.

Model range

The five-model Suzuki Vitara range spans three specification levels – GL, GL+ and GLX – and a choice of two transmissions, as well as either front-wheel or AllGrip all-wheel drive.

The AllGrip system, offered on two of the five Suzuki Vitara models, adds real all-terrain capability, with four user-selectable driving modes without compromising fuel economy.The four-mode system optimises traction in variety of driving conditions.

All five models are equipped with the same, four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol engine.

The vehicle test driven was the Vitara 1.6 GL+ (Price: R269 900)

Exterior

Seeing the test vehicle waiting for me in the parking lot, it was definitely love at first sight. And this was not only due to its sporty, trendy look that reminded me a lot of a much more expensive British SUV – one that I would buy if money was no object. I especially liked the two tone colouring– white roof and black body - of the test vehicle. The two tone option is part of the personalisation possibilities available on the GL + models.

The Vitara is available in eight exterior colours, four roof colours and three grille finishes (chrome, black and white).

Interior design

The Vitara combines a contemporary, streamlined, raised stance shape on the outside with a spacious, car-like interior.

The cabin of the Vitara can also be personalised.

The interior is roomy and has comfortable space with a user-friendly instrument layout.

In the back there is enough space for three teenagers or two adults to sit comfortably.

The main instrument binnacle is dominated by dual analogue dials for speed and rev count, while an information display between the two dials offers selectable trip computer information.

The MP3/WMA-compatible multi-speaker audio system includes a CD player and FM/AM tuner, as well USB connectivity. It also has Bluetooth connectivity.

The steering wheel is equipped - depending on the model - with multifunction controls for the audio system, hands-free telephony, and cruise control and speed limiter systems.

The front bucket seats are height adjustable for both driver and front passenger, while the rear bench seat is split 60/40 and can be folded flat partially or completely.

The luggage compartment is spacious and easily accessible thanks to a tailgate that opens all the way down to bumper level. The luggage compartment has a divider board, as well as a 12V accessory socket and a boot light.

Safety

All five models are equipped with a full array of active and passive safety features. As a result, the new Vitara attained a full five-star safety rating under the latest, stringent EuroNCAP crash safety tests.

Active systems include an electronic stability programme (ESP), and ABS anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and electronic brake assist (EBA).

The passive safety features include seven airbags (dual front, side and curtain airbags, as well as a knee airbag for the driver), as well as a brake pedal release system.

Specs

Even the base model, the 1.6 GL, offers an extensive array of features. All the models have as standard equipment the safety equipment (as mentioned above) as well as daytime running lights, skid plates, alarm, immobiliser, remote central locking, front electric windows and mirrors, adjustable multi-function steering wheel, trip computer, a CD/radio sound system with Bluetooth and USB/mp3 and 60/40 split rear seats.

Added features on the GL + and GLX include LED lights, panoramic sunroof, chrome and suede trim, cruise control, an All Grip driving mode selector, keyless start, two extra speakers, hill hold and descent control, parking sensors, more storage solutions, extra interior lights and 12V sockets.

Ride

All the models are equipped with a 1.6 litre petrol engine. There are no turbo engine options in this range. The engine is quite lively and willing and the Vitara doesn’t struggle when overtaking vehicles on the open road. While it is quite happy and sturdy on the open road, its compact dimensions make it ideal for the urban commuter with the added advantage of a heightened seating position with good visibility.

While the same engine is used across the entire Vitara model range, would-be buyers can opt for either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic gearbox. Manual override is available via shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.

Its average fuel consumption is stated as 6L/100km

To summarize: The Vitara not only looks good, but it also gives a solid performance, practicality and economy at a very competitive price in this market segment – definitely worth a trip to a Suzuki showroom near you.

The Vitara’s prices range from R239900 to R319900

Its competitors’ prices range from

Nissan Juke: R279 900 - R379 900

Ford EcoSport: R233 900 - R294 900

Renault Duster: R222 900 - R289 900

Renault Captur: R235 900 - R299 900

Honda H-RV: R313 100 - R370 500

Mazda CX-3: R260 000 - R332 400

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