• New exterior, interior design
• AllGrip all-wheel drive
• Five-star EuroNCAP rating
George, Western Cape - Suzuki has launched its fourth-generation Vitara in South Africa, 27 years since the first compact SUV was launched.
The new Vitara sports a new design, upgraded interior as well as new technology in the form of an all-wheel-drive system and automatic transmission. Prices start from R239 900 (GL) and R299 900 for the flagship GLX auto.
The compact SUV measures 4.1m long, 1.7m wide and 1.6m tall.
GL, GL+ and GLX
The five-derivative range is available in three specification levels (GL, GL+ and GLX) and a choice of two transmissions (five-speed manual and six-speed auto), as well as either front-wheel or AllGrip all-wheel drive.
All five variants are powered by the same four-cylinder 1.6 litre petrol capable of 86kW/151Nm.
New AllGrip all-wheel drive
The AllGrip system adds all-terrain capability, with four driving modes and hill descent control.
The four AllGrip modes are:
Auto – Front-wheel drive though will engage all-wheel drive when a loss of traction is detected.
Sport - All-wheel drive relative to throttle input.
Snow - When traction is severely compromised, such as on muddy gravel tracks.
Lock – Activates the limited-slip differential.
According to Suzuki: The AllGrip all-wheel drive, offered on two of the five Suzuki Vitara models, is a four-mode system that optimises traction in variety of driving conditions. It senses when additional traction will be required, and divides power between the front and rear axles accordingly.”
Read: More on Suzuki's new Vitara
It has approach and departure angles of 18.2 degrees and 28.2 degrees respectively. Its ramp breakover angle is 17.7%, while the minimum ground clearance is 185 mm.
In terms of safety all derivatives are equipped with anti-lock braking system with brake assist, electronic stability control, seven airbags (including a knee airbag), and IsoFix child-seat tethers. The Vitara has earned a five-star EuroNCAP crash safety rating.
The Vitara 1.6 GL (1.6, five-speed manual front-wheel drive) has wheel-arch extensions and front and rear skid plates. The grille, exterior door releases, exterior mirrors and fender garnishes are finished in black.
The GL has 16” steel rims shod with 215/60 R16 tyres. Inside it has cloth upholstery throughout, both front seats offer height adjustment while the rear bench can be folded (60:40 split). The tailgate (1.1m wide and 730mm tall) offers 375 litres of luggage space which can expand to 710 litres with the seats folded.
It has power front windows, power side-mirrors, remote central-locking, manual aircon with pollen filter, four-speaker MP3/WMA/CD audio system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity. A 12V accessory socket is also provided and an integrated alarm/immobiliser.
Vitara 1.6 GL+
The GL+ specification (five-speed manual) can be specified in either front-wheel or AllGrip guise. Both benefit from 16” alloys, colour-coded panels for the grille, door releases and side-mirrors. GL+ versions can be ordered in a two-tone exterior with the roof finished in a contrasting colour to the body. It has grey fenders, fog lights, dark-tinted privacy glass for rear windows and tailgate.
The fabric upholstery gains contrasting stitching and the cabin benefits from chromed and silver accents. GL+ has a leather steering wheel, power windows (front and rear), cruise control (with steering-wheel controls), analogue clock and auto aircon. The luggage compartment of the GL+ has a divider board, 12V accessory socket and a boot light. The GL+ with AllGrip has a drive-mode selector and drive-mode indicator for the digital instrument display.
Vitara 1.6 GLX
The GLX designation is reserved for the two flagships of the new Vitara line-up. The front-wheel drive GLX swaps the five-speed manual for a six-speed auto with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. The AlllGrip versions retains the five-speed manual.
Compared to the GL and GL+, the top-of-the-range GLX has 17” alloys shod with 215/55 R17 tyres, powered glass sunroof, silver roof rails, chromed front grille and fenders, LED projector headlights and the side-mirrors feature integrated indicators.
The flagship is equipped with suede upholstery, parking sensors (front and rear), hill assist, auto headlights and keyless entry.
In short, the Vitara nails the basics (ride, handling, 4x4 prowess) and feels satisfyingly solid. The biggest issue is speed and agility...
Suzuki says its aim with the new Vitara was to make it drive like a city car yet be capable of handling the outdoors. With its new AllGrip system it’s not that far off the mark.
The extra weight and higher centre of gravity means it's not as agile when it comes to cornering but it hugs the road admirably especially in all-wheel drive guise. The Vitara's suspension is capable of soaking up most bumps and undulations especially the AllGrip version though it sacrifices speed and agility.
The AllGrip system is capable of handling gravel and slippery surfaces. Its steering is light enough to manoeuvre around tight city spaces.
The Vitara is in desperate need of power though curiously the AllGrip versions feel sportier than the standard versions. Its 1.6 unit performs adequately but struggles when driven enthusiastically, especially on steep mountain passes.
The new Vitara is everything we've come to expect from Suzuki; a stylish, safe, affordable (at least compared to some its local rivals) and humble compact SUV.
In terms of design, the new Vitara certainly Evoques a response. When asked if its new SUV resembles a certain popular 4x4, Suzuki said: "Only if you squint..."
The Vitara feels like a city kid brought to the countryside; a bit rough around the edges but more than willing to take on any role. Like its Jimny sibling, the Vitara has great character and is a welcome addition to Suzuki's local line-up. It's worth noting that the Grand Vitara will be sold alongside the new addition.
The new Suzuki Vitara competes in the compact crossover segment, arguably one of the most closely contested markets, and will have to contend with the likes of the Ford EcoSport, Citroen Cactus and Nissan Juke.
1.6 GL 5MT - R239 900
1.6 GL+ 5MT - R269 900
1.6 GL+ 5MT ALLGRIP - R291 900
1.6 GLX 5MT ALLGRIP - R319 900
1.6 GLX 6AT - R299 900
All models are sold with a three-year or 100 000km warranty, four-year or 60 000km service plan and three-year roadside assistance. Services intervals are 15 000km.