Suzuki Vitara Boosterjet SZ-T

    It’s almost hard to believe that Suzuki’s Vitara is now celebrating its 30th year in production. It’s been through some changes of course, you can’t buy a soft-top one anymore, the V6 Grand Vitara is all but a distant memory, so too the three-door. Bluetooth and Climate control are now standard-fit across all Vitaras these days; 30 years ago we didn’t even know what they were. It’s time perhaps to get reacquainted.

  Having driven the latest incarnation of Suzuki’s perennial SUV not long after it was launched just over 3 years ago I concluded that the majority of its interior plastics were definitely a tad on the hard and scratchy side (I wasn’t the only one…). But, I conceded, “Based purely upon how they are used (and abused) out in here my neck of the far unlit woods, Vitaras seem usually to be purchased by people for whom an element of both seat and dashboard wipability is probably considered a bonus.

   Many a Suzuki SUV in these parts is seen with a dog, or in more extreme cases, another four-legged friend in the back, or indeed the front. And anyway, judging by the age of some of them - the Vitaras, not the animals or their owners -  it only serves to show that Suzuki’s interiors are built to far outlast the memory of anything that was ever written by me”.

   Most of that still rings true. Many a ruddy-faced type out here in The Marches thinks nothing of bundling livestock into the back of the family car. Nevertheless, those for whom there is more to life than just the weekly trip to market, Suzuki have made some very visible and welcome interior changes. In fact, say Suzuki, the Vitara is now the most technically advanced Suzuki to date.

    On first impressions, it would appear that once again Suzuki have got the balance of comfort and durability in their now recently refreshed Vitara right.

    The dashboard – now with a new instrument cluster and far more softly covered and nicer to the touch – is, as you’d expect, simply and clearly laid out. The boot is still capable of accommodating your luggage or Labrador - there’s also a low loading lip, and a variable height floor that facilitates a flat load-space when the rear seats are folded.  The Vitara seats five, albeit perhaps at a slight push. So all in all the practicality element of the Vitara has been retained too. Except perhaps for the lack of a spare wheel, an inflation kit sits under the boot floor instead – owners of rocky driveways beware.

   All Vitaras also come as standard with seven airbags, alloy wheels, USB and the aforementioned Bluetooth connectivity, DAB, cruise control, air-con, electric front windows, and… a central cubby and armrest between driver and passenger. Apparently that’s what existing Vitara owners wanted the most. Suzuki listened. Further up the range Smartphone link, navigation, blind spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition systems, and LED projector headlamps are also in the offering.

    What you can’t have is a diesel. Your options are a 1.0, a 1.4 litre petrol. 

      Now I know that the mention of petrol powered family sized SUV might at first leave with you the impression that the skins of rice puddings the world over can rest easy. But, you’d be wrong.

    Suzuki’s little 1 litre Boosterjet might be the smallest engine available in the Vitara range but, to use the old cliché: It punches way beyond its weight. It produces 110bhp and healthy 125lbft of torque between 2,000 and 3,500 revs. In doing so, and when coupled to Suzuki’s five speed manual gearbox and AllGRIP four-wheel drive system it gives the Vitara a certain charm. It really does pull, and there’s little, if any lag. Granted, it’s no rocket-ship, nevertheless it’s a joy the let this little 3 pot motor rev a little.

   Surprisingly, once up to speed, it also makes for relaxed cruising. The the ride is a bit soft, and the same could be said of the steering, but no-one ever bought a Vitara for its lap-record setting abilities, wading streams, and light off-roading duties have always been more its forte. And, having sampled Vitaras in the mud, I’ve absolutely no doubt the four selectable driving modes, Auto, Sport, Snow, and Lock will keep you going when the weather, the terrain, or both, turn tough.

    It may now be into its third decade but the Vitara has managed to retain its original character and authenticity. It’s economical – especially now with its new engines – it’s incredibly easy to live with, and it’s far tougher than many of its newer to the market and more fashion conscious contemporaries

   At prices from £16,999 upwards I’m going to stick my neck out and say I think it’s a bit of a bargain too.

    

 

Suzuki Vitara 1.0 BOOSTERJET SZ-T ALLGRIP MT

Engine: 998cc 3Cyl turbo-charged petrol

Power:  110 bhp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 125 lbft @ 2,500 – 3,500 rpm

Transmission:  5 speed manual, with ALLGrip four-wheel drive

Performance: 0-62mph 12.0 sec

Max Speed: 112 mph

MPG: 49.6 Combined.

CO2: 129g/km

Price: £20,799 otr.

@bird_liam

Many Thanks to Jessica, Alun, Leigh, and Paul at Suzuki UK’s press office for the loan of the Vitara

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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