Suzuki Vitara: range anxiety

  • We take a closer look at our long termer's fuel economy
  • Indicated figures are good to use as a benchmark
  • The Vitara impresses over long distances

No matter how much we love the look of a certain car, for most of us it ultimately comes down to money when we decide on which one to buy. 

Although list price or monthly instalments are the figures we concentrate on most, running costs are also an important factor to consider when weighing up finances.

The fuel consumption cycle has been under increased scrutiny recently following the Volkswagen emissions scandal, many believing that it’s not representative enough of real world driving. Although the figures themselves are virtually impossible to hit, they do serve as a useful benchmark when comparing cars.   

Officially our Vitara test car will achieve 67.2mpg combined, which is good for a four-wheel drive SUV. One of the Vitara’s biggest rivals, the Nissan Juke, doesn’t offer a manual diesel 4WD model and the comparable and cheaper SsangYong Tivoli 4WD achieves just under 50mpg.

Even the popular Skoda Yeti with its 2-litre diesel offers less than our Vitara at 55mpg, albeit it's quicker and more powerful.

We were initially disappointed with our long termer's real-world average fuel economy though, so four and half months and over 4,000 miles later, does the Vitara fare a little better? 

To help improve fuel economy our car is fitted with stop/start as standard, so once the engine is warm it will automatically shut down at the lights (if placed in neutral with the handbrake on) or when you're sat in traffic. It’s a system which has been around for many years now but is often under-utilised. If like me you drive to work in rush hour often, it could make a real difference to your mpg.

During our time with the Vitara we’ve averaged 52mpg overall, however this figure drastically improves over longer distances and motorway journeys. On a 400-mile round trip down to Somerset recently we saw the Vitara achieve 60mpg (calculated) on a full tank which is very impressive, especially as the car was fully-laden with suitcases, sleeping bags and shoe boxes (teenage girls!).

Frustratingly when you get the notification that your fuel is running low, the indicated range in the Vitara goes blank instantly which leaves you dashing for the nearest fuel station, even if seconds before the trip computer told you there was 50 miles still left in the tank.

Another irksome feature is the position of the fuel filler cap switch, which is located under the driver’s seat, meaning you need to roll the seat back every time you want to fill up.

These niggles aside, the Vitara is proving a capable and impressive all-rounder, combining eye-catching looks and good fuel economy. In our next update we'll be evaluating the Vitara's practicality credentials to see how it stacks up as an everyday family car.   

Mileage: 4157.4

Fuel economy: 52mpg (calc)