ADDED VITALITY FOR LONG-RUNNING VITARA

Suzuki_Vitara_frontA little over 30 years ago Australia was showing off to the world with Expo 88 in Brisbane, around the same time Suzuki had the first Vitara small sports utility vehicle breaking cover. Now it is the turn of the Vitara Series II to carry the banner.

Since, the Vitara, with a grandiose detour to the name of Grand Vitara, has been a mainstay of the Japanese company’s offerings to the automotive world. Now it is the turn of the Vitara Series II to carry the banner.

With diesel fast becoming on the nose to climate concerned customers, the oil burner has been snuffed out and a turbocharged petrol vehicle fired up to take its place in the four-model roll.

Additions across the board include front sliding arm rest, soft touch dash and an improved 4.2-inch colour LCD in the dashboard meter cluster, while advanced safety technology comes to the aid of drivers in potential accident situations.

Turbo variants also include premium seat coverings and the top-of-the- range Vitara a panoramic sunroof along with hill descent control.

Suzuki’s AllGrip 4WD system, where fitted, continues to incorporate four driver selectable modes (Auto, Snow, Sport and Lock) for safe driving on a range of surfaces.

The line-up is anchored by the Vitara manual, selling for $22,490, plus on-road costs, $500 more than the previous model. A six-speed automatic transmission adds $2000 to the price. The turbocharged automatic (our test car) slips under the 30-grand mark, while the range-topping all-wheel drive version sells for $33,990, up $1000.

Suzuki_Vitara_rear

Series II also comes with Suzuki’s five-year capped price servicing and, for the first time in a Suzuki, incorporates roadside assist.

STYLING
A stand-out five-slot radiator grille, with dominant brand label ‘S’, and LED headlamps with blue trimmed projectors, plus daytime running lights, announce the arrival of the Series II Vitara in no uncertain terms. Stylish 17-inch alloy wheels filling out the arches complete a sporty picture.

Choosing two-tone exterior colours can add even further to the exclusive look of the small SUV.

INTERIOR
Seats covered with premium suede, embossed with geometric patterns produce a semi-luxurious finish, while an analogue clock centre dash, normally in the domain of luxury vehicles, adds a further premium feature to the cabin.

A new soft-pad instrument panel and front sliding armrest exudes quality and convenience and a 4.2-inch multi-information colour LCD display keeps the driver in touch with the car’s performance and operating systems.

Suzuki_Vitara_interior

INFOTAINMENT
A 7-inch touchscreen in the central dashboard is within easy reach of the driver and incorporates satellite navigation and reversing camera vision, as well as providing access to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Test drivers wearing polarised sunglasses found the screen all but impossible to read as it’s somehow smudged out.

Digital climate control is a further welcome convenience.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
There are no mechanical changes of note. Performance and fuel efficiency are possible with the latest in turbocharging technology in the Vitara Turbo’s 1.4 litre Boosterjet four-cylinder engine mated with a six-speed automatic.

SAFETY
The body is designed to absorb and disperse energy during a collision.

Six airbags and electronic stability control (ESC) combine for a five-star ANCAP safety rating. The ESC automatically adjusting engine and brake operation to help keep the driver in control in all conditions.

Turbo models also include the latest advanced preventive safety features including advanced forward detection, which can help avoid an accident, plus autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, weaving alert, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and rear cross traffic alert, all worth the price on entry.

Front and rear parking sensors warn the driver audio-visually of obstacles in the way.

DRIVING
The six-speed automatic transmission is in tune with the power delivery of the engine that’s carried over from the previous Vitara model. Shift paddles add an extra dimension for the enthusiastic driver.

With 95 RON petrol recommended, fuel consumption of 5.9 litres per 100 kilometres on the urban / highway cycle is claimed by the manufacturer. On test the Turbo recorded 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres in city driving and 4.6 on the motorway.

Seats are comfortable and reasonably supportive. Advertised as a five-seater, cabin space would suit four-up only on a long journey but around town five occupants may be a bit squashed.

With all seat backs in place, there is 375 litres of boot space 710 litres with them folded. The boot has a removable parcel shelf and there’s a variable height floor which can take flat items out of view.

Cabin storage is good, with two cup holders in the front door pockets and two in the centre console, and two small shelves in front of the gear lever. The spacious centre console makes up for a rather small glovebox.

SUMMING UP
The Vitara Series II Turbo earns its place between the Grand Vitara and Jimny at the centre of Suzuki SUV range. It’s well specified, has a striking street presence and harbours no pretensions to be a genuine off-roader. That’s for the AllGrip 4WD.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL LINE-UP
Vitara manual $22,490
Vitara auto $24,490
Vitara Turbo auto $29,990
Vitara Turbo AWD auto $33,990
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Suzuki dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS:
(Vitara Turbo 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, automatic 2WD SUV)
Capacity: 1373 cc
Configuration: 1.4-litre, 4 cylinder, Boosterjet, six-speed automatic
Maximum Power: 103 kW @ 5500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 220 Nm @ 1500-4000 rpm
Fuel type: Petrol
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 5.9 litres per 100 km
CO2 emissions 138 g / km

DRIVELINE:
Drivetrain: Six-speed automatic, front-wheel drive

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4175 mm
Width: 1775 mm
Height: 1610 mm
Wheelbase: 2500 mm
Gross vehicle mass: 1730 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 47 litres
Turning circle: 5.2 m

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Disc

WARRANTY:
5 years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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