Suzuki Vitara SZ5 Allgrip review
Suzuki’s Allgrip version of the Vitara DDiS is the ‘cleanest’ non-hybrid sports utility vehicle on the market with carbon dioxide emissions of 111 g/km for four-wheel drive models and 106 g/km for front-wheel drive versions.
The car handles well and feels well-made and if you can resist the higher spec models it looks good value. Equipment levels are high. Suzuki has a long reputation for practical four-wheel drive vehicles.
Review by Russell Bray
Suzuki’s new Vitara is available with a petrol or turbo-diesel engine, both of which deliver 118 bhp. The diesel achieves this at 3,750 rpm while the petrol needs 6,000 rpm. The diesel, tested here, has twice as much torque (236 lbs ft at 1,750 rpm compared to 115 lbs ft at 6,000 rpm) and so is more relaxing to potter about in and would prove stronger if you ventured into quite tough off-road conditions.
But on a twisty road in sport mode or for urban motoring I would take the petrol. Acceleration to 62 mph in the diesel takes a slow-ish and fairly vocal 12.4 seconds. Top speed is 112 mph. The petrol comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, the diesel with a six.
You don’t buy an SUV if seriously sporting driving is on your agenda, but the Vitara is more agile than you might expect and quite good fun to drive. At times keeping in the driver’s seat is what limits cornering speed. Twenty five per cent of UK sales are expected to have Suzuki’s Allgrip four-wheel drive system, which is virtually identical to that in the SX4 S-Cross.
It gives you a good sense of safety and security. In auto mode it maximizes fuel economy, while in sport it enhances the engine torque and maximises grip by switching power backwards and forwards. The snow setting is for slippery surfaces and if you get stuck in mud, sand or snow you can switch the transmission to ‘lock’ mode to help haul you out.
Suzuki has gone for a classic five-door SUV look with the new Vitara (the clamshell bonnet remains) and some see hints of Range Rover Evoque at the front, but you can jazz it up with two-tone paint jobs on the SZ-T and SZ5 models for an extra £800. Top versions have snazzy blue projector LED headlights which also save a small amount of energy compared to normal headlamps. Further personalising can be done with different colour front grilles, bumpers trims, instrument panels, clock and dashboard air vents.
An urban pack adds fog lamp bezels, body side mouldings and a roof spoiler. An off-roader pack includes protective front and rear skid plates, black fog lamp bezels, body side mouldings and boot loading edge body protection. The car is available with a sunroof which consists, cleverly, of two individually sliding glass panels. Luggage capacity grows from 375 litres with rear seats up to 710 litres with them folded down. Difficulty meeting Euro pollution regulations means the larger Grand Vitara goes off sale this year. Length 4175 mm. Width 1775 mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
The steering wheel adjusts for reach and height and the driver’s seat is also height adjustable. Brakes are discs all-round, ventilated at the front, but the pedal feels quite soft. The Allgrip four-wheel drive system has four modes. In auto it maximises fuel economy and only switches to four-wheel drive if a wheel starts to slip. Sport mode puts 20% power to the back wheels and lets you tackle twisty roads with verve. Power is split according to grip and throttle opening. Snow mode is for slippery surfaces.
If you get stuck, be it mud, sand or snow, there is ‘lock’ setting to brake slipping wheels and divert power to wheels with grip. A radar system can automatically brake the car if it detects an obstacle ahead. On a misty day, though that shouldn’t affect it, we got messages warning: Radar brake support temporarily disabled. At other times it warned about a collision even though I was already braking. Doesn’t fill you with enthusiasm for driverless cars does it. There is thankfully a manual handbrake.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The official combined fuel economy figure for the Vitara 1.6 litre DDiS SZR is 67.2 mpg. Over a variable test route without off-roading the trip computer recorded 61mpg. Even allowing for, say, a ten percent error, that’s good going for a spacious vehicle with off-road capability and four-wheel drive.
Carbon dioxide emissions of 111 g/km put the vehicle into road tax band C which means no first year tax and then £30 per year. Suzuki predicts residual values of 42.3% for SZ4 models after three years/60,000 miles.
Suzuki has used high tensile steel to reduce the weight of the car’s body and despite its solid look the car is quite streamlined. The engine meets the forthcoming Euro 6 anti-pollution regulations. It is fitted with a new exhaust gas recirculation valve to minimise emissions.
The turbocharger is electronically controlled with variable geometry. An automatic stop-start system cuts emissions in stop-start traffic. Emissions for the turbo diesel drop to just 106 g/km for the front-wheel drive only versions.
The Vitara is strong on gadgets and gizmos though some of the trim material on the dashboard and doors looks and feels cheap and hard plastic. It should be long lasting though. Smart phone link audio and satellite navigation are standard on the top two SZ-T and SZR models.
Adaptive cruise control and emergency radar-activated braking are standard on the SZ5. Allgrip intelligent four-wheel drive is optional on the SZR. Bluetooth phone connectivity, DAB digital radio and air-conditioning come as standard, but the colour touch screen is higher up the range.
It’s a better unit than we are used to seeing in Suzukis. The test route was set-up using way points but the satellite navigation became confused at times and was slow to redirect if an error was made. Metallic paint is £430 option.
Model tested: Suzuki Vitara SZ5 Allgrip 1.6DDiS
Body-style: Five-door compact sports utility vehicle
Engine/CO2: 118bhp 1598cc four-cylinder turbo diesel/ 111 gCO2/km
Trim grades: SZ4, SZ-T, SZ5
On-road price: From £13,999. Test car £21,299
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles
In the showroom: April
Review rating: 3.5 STARS