Suzuki impresses by making the best Vitara even better
Cut me through the middle and you might find a six-letter brand in my core, for which I cannot be blamed, as Suzuki has been such a vital part of my motoring life for several years. If you have read any of my past contributions to Luscombe’s Suzuki website, you will be only too aware that I adore the Vitara 1.4S model, considering it to be both the best on-road and most effective rally car that I have driven in years.
It is worth highlighting that our favourite brand also manufactures two of the finest turbocharged petrol engines in existence. Branded under the BoosterJet label, the 1.0-litre three-cylinder and 1.4-litre four-cylinder engines have received numerous awards for their broad range of capabilities and total dependability. The 109bhp ‘baby’ unit is not merely the punchiest but also the most frugal of the motor industry’s tiddlers and, as anyone who has driven it will know, it feels significantly larger capacity than it is.
The 1.4-litre powerhouse develops a cracking 138bhp and is probably one of the most engaging of engines that I have driven since the ‘Kent’ pushrod motor in my old Mark Two Ford Escort of the early-1980s! (Sound of fanfare) As of now, both of those engines are the driving force in the latest Vitara and they work exceptionally well. Replacing both the former turbo-diesel and 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engines in Vitara, the 1.0-litre provides diesel-rivalling fuel economy allied to petrol’s lower per-litre costs.
While it drives through a five-speed manual transmission, an automatic six-speed is available as an option, which shifts ratios speedily and actually provides a marginally higher top speed (112mph vs. 111mph). Its acceleration is strong (0-60mph in 11.2s) and refinement levels are much-improved. However, the 1.4-litre is the performance option (0-60mph in 9.5s, 124mph top speed), while still being capable of returning 48.7mpg. Whether in six-speed manual, or automatic guises, the former ‘S’ variant has now been standardised and is available in both SZ-T and SZ5 trim grades, with the added fillip of the auto-box and all-wheel-drive.
While there has been a round of detail changes to the trim detailing and the LED headlight and tail-lamp signatures, the most interesting upgrade is the adoption of ‘soft-touch’ trim for the dashboard moulding. The reduced amount of hard, albeit ‘wipe-clean’, plastic introduces much improved cabin refinement, with fewer plastic-to-plastic creaks, let alone material density improvements. On the SZ5 versions, new Alcantara cloth on the seats and the inclusion of a new central arm-rest/storage-box (across the range) creates an even more comfortable and supportive driving environment.
Luscombe’s summary: Suzuki is a carmaker that listens to its critics and effects change as speedily as it can. These detail and technical improvements (which include blind-spot recognition in the door mirrors) have turned Vitara into the most advanced Suzuki to date.
Next week: Iain explains the position with Jimny.
Suzuki practicality is always in the mix
Recognised as a car manufacturer that not only clarions value as a founding principle but also insists on providing the maximum of practicality, states Iain Robertson, Suzuki cars are designed to deal with modern life, at all levels.
Whether hefting hay bales into the back of the Jimny, or transporting a couple of toddlers from home to nursery in the Celerio, Suzuki has already thought about all of the practicalities that mums, dads, stable-lads and lasses will not only desire in their cars but from which they will also benefit. Take the new Jimny as a prime example: its rear seats flop forwards easily to leave a completely flat and wipe-clean surface in the boot.
However, the durable close-weave seat materials used in all Suzuki models are made in such a way that they can be scrubbed clean, if necessary, following a familial assault of choc-ices, half-eaten sweeties, crayons and pop bottles, let alone some of the other, more toxic items that children can leave behind! However, in-car cleanliness-made-easy is but one aspect of practicality. ISOFIX child safety seat and booster cushion mountings are not just highlighted but are intentionally simpler to use than on some makes and models.
Crack open any Suzuki bootlid, or hatchback, and most models feature dual-level floors, which mean that personal possessions can be stored more securely out-of-sight below the upper floor, all without encroaching on the space left for the get-you-home spare tyre kit. Flop forwards the rear seats, all of which, on Suzuki models, can be folded without hassle, and the already good boot capacity can be almost trebled in a trice.
Finally, cabin space is always at a premium, especially in compact cars. Suzuki gets over the issue by ensuring that the range of adjustment possible for its front seats, which can accommodate very large occupants, still allows adequate foot and leg room behind, for back seat passengers. No other carmaker can boast such a broad amount of manufacturer consideration for its customers.
Luscombe’s summary: Suzuki has always been a realistic car manufacturer. It makes its cars for human beings and not virtual reality!
Next week: Iain interviews Shaun Holmes, Assistant Sales Manager
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