Suzuki Vitara: home from home

  • Standstill on the A1 provides opportunity to test our Vitara’s comfort levels
  • Sat-nav doesn’t help to avoid traffic disruptions
  • Spacious cabin and comfortable seats help make journey bearable

When you’ve got a long journey ahead of you, there’s nothing worse than driving 25 miles down the road and hitting a traffic jam.

Unfortunately if you drive a lot of miles each year, encountering accidents, breakdowns and roadworks is inevitable.

Recently I was travelling to Darlington for an event and the 160-mile trip which should have took around three hours ended up taking 10 and a half courtesy of three sections of the A1 being closed, gridlocked diversions, two breakdowns and an accident.

Although sitting in traffic can be very frustrating (understatement), I decided to use the extra time in the car as an opportunity to take a closer look at the Vitara’s comfort levels.

For starters there’s plenty of leg and headroom on offer so I had space to stretch out, the driver’s seat can also recline almost flat so I could lay back and relax during a three hour standstill on the A1.

Finding a comfortable seating position in the Vitara is possible thanks to the adjustable driver’s seat and steering wheel, however it does take time to find the ideal setting as the lever to adjust the reclining backrest is over enthusiastic and seemingly keen to get the driver flat on their back.

The conveniently placed USB port kept my phone charged during the journey and the easy-to-connect Bluetooth helped me keep up-to-date with work while I was waiting.

Ride quality is overall very good, especially on the motorway and the engine, although noisy when accelerating, is smooth and quiet at cruising speeds.

Now that the nights are drawing in I’m finding the automatic lights a useful feature and although we miss heated seats, the air-con works well at keeping the cabin ventilated.

In our report on fuel economy a couple of weeks ago, we talked about how stop/start can improve fuel consumption, however it’s also very useful in traffic, automatically shutting down the engine if placed in neutral with the handbrake on, so you don’t have to worry about working the pedals when stopped and it also eliminates engine noise from the cabin.

Although the sat-nav will detail traffic disruptions via an icon on the screen, it doesn’t audibly warn you or attempt to divert the route like other systems which is very disappointing and the source of many frustrations during this particular trip. When you’re in unfamiliar territory the sat-nav also fails to illustrate properly which exit to take off a roundabout or re-route you quick enough to be useful when a road is closed.

You will get more helpful guidance if you turn the voice notifications on, but who wants the woman constantly interrupting and repeating the same instructions when your favourite song comes on the radio?

Speaking of music, the sound system in the Vitara offers good quality, even on dance tracks but we still don’t think the volume goes high enough.

After finally arriving at the destination some 10 and a half hours later, I was tired, frustrated and very hungry, but at least I wasn’t stiff or had aching legs and that is all down to the ride quality, space and comfortable seats in our Vitara.   

We’ve received the confirmation that the Vitara will be leaving us soon and it’s a car we are definitely going to miss on the Parkers fleet. In our next and final update we will be taking a look back over the past six months and the Vitara’s key strengths and weaknesses.  

Mileage: 5604 miles

Fuel economy:  54mpg (Calc)