Suzuki Vitara: fond farewell

  • We say goodbye to the Suzuki Vitara
  • After six months' ownership, we reveal the highlights
  • Should the Vitara be your next new car?

Time flies when you’re having fun and unfortunately the sad day has arrived when we need to hand back the keys to our long-term Suzuki Vitara.

During the past six months the Vitara has been thoroughly tested on- and off-road, survived numerous long journeys, been on holiday to the seaside and become a home-from-home recently when I was stuck in a ten-hour traffic jam.

When we were first handed the keys, its characterful looks and eye-catching Atlantis Turquoise Pearl paintwork really impressed, but even more impressive was the price tag. The range starts at just £13,999.

Our car is in top-of-the-range SZ5 trim so sits right near the peak of the price range at £21,299. For the cash you get a lot of kit, though, including a reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and start, a panoramic glass roof, automatic air-con, 17-inch alloy wheels, suede and leather upholstery and sat-nav.

Its 185mm ground clearance, chunky features and big bumpers allude to its off-road capabilities, and it was one of those rare occasions when a car performs even better than expected when we visited a disused quarry.

Under the bonnet of our test car is a four-cylinder 1.6-litre diesel engine which has 118bhp and 320Nm of torque, capable of accelerating the car from 0-62mph in 12.4 seconds. The engine is a little noisy at times but feels quicker than the figures suggest when you drive away from the lights.

We were surprised with how well the car drives on the motorway and although during its time with us we haven’t managed to get close to the 67.2mpg official fuel consumption, with our eco-heads on we achieved 60mpg on a 400-mile round trip down to Somerset - particularly impressive as the car was fully laden with suitcases, food and bedding for our family holiday.

There’s 375 litres of boot space on offer, expanding to 710 litres if you fold down the rear seats, plus an adjustable boot floor meaning you can hide smaller items out of sight.

Thanks to the extra height in the Vitara, headroom is also very good and the seats are large and supportive for those long journeys.

We’ve talked a lot previously about the good value for money that the Vitara offers and there are some real highlights in the standard kit. The large panoramic sunroof floods the cabin with light and the adaptive cruise control makes longer motorway trips easier by automatically adjusting the speed to the traffic conditions. Parking is made easy too thanks to the reversing camera, plus the seven-inch touchscreen system is easy to control and offers good resolution.

Some systems have caused a few headaches, though, including the collision prevention system called Radar Brake Support which was overcautious at times. The DAB radio lost signal quite often, and the multimedia system wouldn’t recognise my iPod when it was plugged into the USB port either.

We also often got frustrated with the boot, which although practical, didn’t close properly on first, second and sometimes third attempts.

Here are our highlights.

The good

  • Characterful cabin
  • Excellent off-road
  • Cheap price tag
  • Large panoramic sunroof
  • Lots of headroom
  • Comfortable over long distances

The not so good

  • Safety systems overcautious at times
  • A few cheap plastics lurking in the cabin
  • Noisy engine
  • Keyless entry is temperamental

Now it’s time to bid a fond farewell to the Vitara and it’s proven to be a versatile, practical and spacious car with some excellent capabilities both off the beaten track and when tackling your favourite B-road at speed.

Mileage: 6,000 miles

Fuel economy:  54mpg (calc)