The Suzuki Vitara has been around since 1988 and is easily one of Suzuki’s most well-known models. Over the years it’s changed in size and powertrain, but the Vitara has always had a rough and ready appeal.
Vitara has changed yet again and the current model introduced in 2014, just as a slew of new crossovers were hitting the market, has smaller dimensions than some of the Vitara tanks that preceded it in response to strong market demand for stylish compact SUVs.
Priced from €21,745, the new Vitara is more of the compact crossover, but it still has the rugged charm on the outside of a larger SUV. 1.6 petrol and diesel options are available, but Suzuki Ireland has recently introduced the Vitara S, a range topping version with sportier styling and a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine under the bonnet producing 140hp.
On the outside the Vitara S is distinguished by 17” black alloy wheels, a unique grille design, silver door mirrors, LED headlamps with red projector covers, rear spoiler and black side body mouldings, while there are four body colours to choose from: Bright Red, Cool White Pearl, Galactic Grey and Cosmic Black.
Inside the Suzuki Vitara S uses red to accentuate details like the air vent surrounds. In typical Suzuki fashion, there are a lot of hard black plastics around the cabin but the build is good and the design easy to navigate. Infotainment is provided via a touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Interior space makes the Vitara more of a rival for the likes of the Peugeot 2008, Opel Mokka X and Renault Captur, but there is still good room to stretch out in the back and there is also a practical 375 litre boot, comparative to any hatchback.
The Suzuki Vitara S is riotous good fun to drive. It’s a little disarming as compact crossovers may be popular, but they often disappoint behind the wheel. Not the Vitara. And it’s one of its best qualities. The steering is really excellent – pure and precise allowing you to tuck the Vitara neatly into bends and position the car easily on the road. Taking on corners with a bit more speed is not a problem as the car grips very well and body roll is kept in check. There is road noise at high speeds but it’s not too annoying and a firmer suspension makes the ride quality a bit poorer over rough, uneven surfaces.
Vitara S comes with Suzuki’s new 1.4-litre Boosterjet turbo petrol engine and it’s a fantastic companion for this car. The power delivery is quick and smooth: it’s not lacking anything. The Vitara S comes with Allgrip four wheel drive as standard and there is choice of manual or automatic gearbox. The manual comes in at €27,745, while the automatic is a steeper €29,845. The CO2 emissions for both are similar, with motor tax costing €270 per year. Claimed fuel economy is also very similar, with Suzuki quoting around 52mpg for the automatic. It’s a bit more disappointing in real life, being somewhere in the high 30s.
For your money, Vitara S does have a high spec including hill descent control, radar brake control, keyless entry and start, parking sensors, reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, four electric windows, and auto lights and wipers.
The Suzuki Vitara S is at the pricier end of the Vitara range but you will not be left wanting for performance and the four wheel drive system adds extra grip and assurance in poorer conditions. In this configuration, it’s not ever going to be as efficient as a diesel, but it is a lot of fun to drive, which can’t be said for a lot of rivals. The interior lacks a bit of polish and the ride comfort is a little rudimentary, but the Suzuki Vitara S will still put a big smile on your face.
Model tested: Suzuki Vitara S Boosterjet ALLGRIP Auto
Price: €29,845 (Range starts at €21,745)
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol
0-100km/h: 10.2 seconds
Top speed: 200km/h
CO2 emissions: 128g/km
Motor tax: €270 per year
If you are looking for a small petrol crossover, you might also like this review of the Peugeot 2008.