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Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0
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PROS

  • Heritage
  • Four-wheel drive ability
  • Funky looks
  • Low running costs

CONS

  • Interior plastics
  • Limited engine choice
  • Rivals cheaper

Verdict

Forget the Nissan Qashqai, or even the Toyota RAV4 – it was the Suzuki Vitara that fathered the SUV crossover craze when it launched back in 1988. Ever since nearly 3 million examples have been produced worldwide, and with the market segment continuing to grow Suzuki is hoping to repeat that success with the new Vitara.

Smaller than the S-Cross with which it shares a platform, the new Vitara is up against some tough competition in the face of the Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur and even Skoda’s Yeti.

Suzuki is hoping it’s 4X4 reputation, value-led specification and Vitara heritage will see it conquer the market here in the UK, where it’s hoping to sell up to 10,000 examples every year.

Two Engines, three gearboxes

Just two engines power the new Suzuki Vitara, both 1.6 litres in capacity but with a choice of petrol or diesel fuels. Both manage to produce 118bhp, but the diesel trumps the 156Nm of the petrol with a doubled-up 320Nm figure.

While the front-wheel drive manual petrol weighs just 1,075Kg, and feels light on its feet because of it, the extra torque of the diesel makes itself known when using faster roads. As standard the petrol comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, with a six-speed automatic an option, while the diesel is only available as a six-speed manual.

Regardless of your choice the Vitara is fuel efficient and kind to the environment, with economy pegged at 53.3mpg for the front-wheel drive petrol with manual gearbox, and 70.6mpg for similarly set-up diesel. Opt for the 4X4 drivetrain or automatic gearbox and these figures suffer, while the range of CO2 emissions covers 106g/Km to a still reasonable 131g/km.

Four or front-wheel drive

Famed for its 4x4 know-how, something it’s been perfecting for four decades now, Suzuki realises that in reality only 10 percent of this market segment are sold so equipped. Which means the front-wheel drive petrol will likely be the best seller.

However you can have your Vitara, be it diesel or petrol, automatic or manual, with the firm’s Allgrip four-wheel drive system should you so wish. On-demand operation means it drives through the front wheels for the majority of the time, only sending power to the rear axle when it detects or anticipates slip from the front.

A controller in the cabin allows driver’s to toggle between Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock modes on the move. The first shuffles the power where it needs it, Sport optimises the system’s responses for sharper cornering and performance, Snow uses four-wheel drive by default for slippery situations and Lock mode makes use of the differential to release the car when stuck in snow, mud or sand.

Personalisation

While Suzuki isn’t necessarily aiming to steal Range Rover Evoque sales it realises all too well that the personalisation that a car offers is one of the key motivators for its success – which is why you can have your Vitara with a Range-Rover evoking black or white roof. It’s one of five two-tone combinations available, alongside ten exterior hues. You can even add coloured inlays to the interior, while Rugged and Urban packs dress up the exterior.

On sale in the UK now, read the rest of the Parkers Suzuki Vitara review to find out whether it’s able to capture imaginations the same way the original did in 1988.

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