Suzuki Vitara is taking a fascinating new direction in its 4WD history, moving away from being a dedicated 4WD / SUV into the crossover field. Even more interesting is that it’s joining European marques in providing the sort of personalisation to give you a vehicle to exactly match your needs.

All Minis and Fiat’s 500 have been offering personalisation for years, Renault Captur and the Citroen DS line-up have joined the customisation contest in recent times. Now Suzuki wants part of the action.

Styling cues carried over from previous models include the clamshell bonnet with its noticeable dummy air-vents now sitting at the foot of A-pillars. There’s a wide shoulder line as well as side style lines that kick at the rear doors then over the wheel arches. The rear is aimed at giving a sharp horizontal look that works nicely to our eyes.

Overall, the new Vitara is aimed more at being timeless in its lines, rather than a fashion statement today that could prove flans-in-the-pan and quickly fade. Which is where the Vitara’s customisation comes in.


You can choose from 13 colour combinations, including eight two-tone finishes (love it!). It gets even better: the dashboard can be had in basic black or you can choose to have the external body colour repeated in wide slashes on the dash and instrument binnacle.

Fascinatingly, there’s even a choice of radiator grilles, detailed finishes on the guards and – wait for it – choices of different clocks!

For a while the Vitara was marketed in Australia as the Grand Vitara, but that somewhat grandiose tag is no longer – it’s back to simply Suzuki Vitara again.

Longer and lower than the first Vitara the all-new 2015 model is more station wagon than SUV. However, its ground clearance of 185 mm will give it some off-road ability; forestry trails and beaches will be its natural habitat as families get out to enjoy life.

In the real world of suburban shopping and daily commuting the lower ride height is a positive, making for easy entry and exit, but still providing a higher than sedan / hatch driving position.


Or you can simply choose not to have AWD and opt for a Vitara with two-wheel drive if all you need is a bright and breezy suburban runabout.

Vitara’s power comes from a 1.6-litre four-cylinder unit putting out 86 kW, and 156 Nm of torque at a high 4400 rpm. Transmission is by five-speed manual, only on the 2WD, or six-speed automatic.

We found the engine to have enough performance, but only just as it struggles at times on hills. Five-speed units are rare these days, an extra forward ratio in the manual improve matters.

Still faithful to its 4WD roots, new Vitara has multiple modes if you choose the all-wheel-drive (AWD) transmission. Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock. The latter mode should provide decent traction on sand and dirt in mild off-road conditions, but see our previous remarks about ground clearance. All our road testing at the Vitara media launch was done on sealed surfaces.

There’s good interior space for four adults, with quite impressive rear seat legroom for a vehicle of this size. Headroom is as abundant as you would expect.

Suzuki is one of the world leaders in small cars and new Vitara is an indication of how much it’s involved not only in engineering but also the difficult task of reading the future.

We feel the decision to tackle the ‘soft roader with customisation’ market is a smart one, and can see it doing pretty well in the sales race.

The complete 2015 Suzuki Vitara range is:
RT-S (GL+ in Queensland) 2WD: $21,990 (manual), $23,990 (automatic)
RT-X (GLX in Queensland) AWD: $31,990 (automatic)
For three months a drive-away offer will apply. RT-S (GL+) will sell for $22,990 (manual) and $24,990 (automatic). Contact your local Suzuki dealer for the drive-away price of the RT-X (GLX).

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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