Suzuki Vitara Limited 2WD 2015 Review

Suzuki Vitara Limited 2WD 2015 Review

The name has been around 25 years. It was an original compact SUV before there was even a mainstream term for it. Now it sits among a growing army of similar-sized small SUVs like the Nissan Juke, Hyundai ix35 and the Mazda CX-3.

The Vitara undercuts all of them at $35,990, with the closest being the Kia Sportage.

Suzuki Vitara Ltd 2WD 2015 front interiorIt delivers a well-featured interior with a huge panoramic sunroof, automatic lights and wipers, Bluetooth phone connectivity, satellite navigation, a very useful speed limiter and a seven-inch touchscreen display that doubles as a reversing camera screen. Above the screen is an analogue clock, one of the three-time readouts visible to the driver!

Suzuki Vitara Ltd 2WD 2015 instrumentsAt this price there are bound to be a few compromises:

The speed limiter doesn’t have an override on the accelerator pedal, and there’s no central binnacle for storage and whoever designed the user interface for the touchscreen (especially connecting a mobile phone and using the satellite navigation) Suzuki Vitara Ltd 2WD 2015 dashboardshould be docked a week’s pay.

Good storage in the boot is augmented by a hidden compartment and a recess either side for items that might slide around (with a neat touch of having a bag hook above them). 375 litres with the rear seats up is about 20 more than in the Juke, and if you fold the back seats down it increases to 710 litres but they don’t fold flat.

The Vitara is fine for four adults, or you could carry three smaller kids in the back. Seat comfort is perfectly adequate.

Suzuki Vitara Ltd 2WD 2015 frontIt’s a car that’s neither masculine nor feminine in its design; an androgynous automobile that should appeal to urban dwellers, new families and couples that perhaps want a bit of rough and tumble.

The distinctive faux grilles on the flanks where the front of the car joins the A-pillar has been carried over from the previous model.

Suzuki Vitara Ltd 2WD 2015 sideChrome adorns the front grille that sits above a two-tone bumper flanked by fog lamps and LED daytime running lamps, and the silver roof rails match the 17-inch alloys wearing 215/55R17 tyres.

The roof has a two-tone option, with our vehicle having the black that extends down all the door pillars. The rear bumper, too, is two-tone, matching the grey and black of the front bumper.

Suzuki Vitara Ltd 2WD 2015 rear quarterI took it from Auckland to Whangapoua and back, up the Thames coast road. The road between Thames and Whangapoua is the road of a thousand curves.

The little Vitara was strong on the brakes and easy to place in the corners, with not too much roll into the corners due to its fairly stiff suspension, but acceleration was an issue on the hills.

The quoted engine power of 86kW looks alright on paper when you see the 131g C02/km and 6.3L/100km figures, which are both more than acceptable for a petrol engine in a compact SUV

However, when a campervan pulls over into the short passing bays you want to be able to make progress quickly past rather than trying to shove the accelerator through the firewall to get any performance out of it.

Suzuki reckons it’ll pull 1200kg on a braked trailer, but I’d dread to think what kind of acceleration you’d get as it feels like it’s well over 10 seconds to 100kph with just one person in.

You can use the paddle gearshift to improve your control and, on the twisting roads of the Coromandel, it’s useful to stop the engine changing up too early.

To keep it in a low gear to preserve the brakes on the downhills reveals that second gear has very little engine braking while first gear races away.

The ground clearance is 185mm, which is around 40mm more than many cars and was helpful on the rutted forestry road to Castle Rock. This falls quite a bit short of the Subaru XV’s class-leading 220mm.

What Suzuki can offer at the price is impressive. The Vitara is a stylish car without the kinds of proportions and features that will date quickly.

The full keyless entry/exit/engine start is excellent and the panoramic roof gives a feeling of space in the car and doesn’t compromise the 5-star EuroNCAP rating.

With seven airbags and all the electronics on-tap to prevent skidding, sliding and wheelspin, the Vitara has your back.

It’s a practical option for rural or urban living.

Price: $35,990

Pros

  • Sensible price

Cons

  • Touchscreen user interfaces difficult to use when driving
  • Needs more power

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