Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

 

     I have it on very good authority – from an inside man, one might say – that Suzuki plan to introduce an all-electric vehicle in 2025. Quite what that vehicle will be however he wouldn’t, or couldn’t, say.  

    That’s not to say, that Suzuki aren’t currently doing their bit to help reduce fuel costs and CO2 emissions. All of Suzuki’s current passenger car range (note: The much beloved Jimny is now only available as a Light Commercial Vehicle) are hybrids; be they either mild or full. The latest is this, the Full Hybrid version of the Vitara SUV.

     Suzuki claim that now the Vitara uses the K15C version of their own 1.5 litre petrol engine (there’s no Toyota tie-up here, as there is in both the Swace and the Across) together with a 33bhp/24kW motor, a 140V lithium ion battery, and an inverter Motor Generator Unit, compared to the soon to be phased-out mild-hybrid automatic Vitara, you should see a fuel saving somewhere in the region of £10 a month. If things continue on their current trajectory by the time you read this that could be closer to £20! CO2 emissions for the Full Hybrid are quoted at 132g/km, which means VED cost of £210 after the first year and £145 thereafter.

    That petrol-electric drive combo is coupled to a 6 –Speed automated manual AGS gearbox that, say Suzuki, “enables the driver to enjoy both the direct driving experience of a manual gearbox and the shifting ease of an automatic transmission”. Once in Drive you can select gears yourself via the paddle-shifters. Another advantage of the AGS is it’s lighter than a more conventional (more modern?) torque converter auto ‘box. The question however is, is it any smoother?

    Even Suzuki’s some of own personnel seemed unsure about such things; almost apologetic in fact. While perfectly acceptable around town and in slower traffic, where the electric assistance helps fill any gaps in the torque curve and soothe any upshifting imperfections, once out in the open the automated manual’s shortcomings become more apparent. There’s a hesitancy, plus a tendency to hold on to the lower ratios. Add a less than sonorous engine soundtrack, and things soon begin to feel somewhat strained. Granted, the Vitara in any guise is no sports car, however the Full Hybrid Allgrip’s 0-62mph time of 13.5 seconds is pedestrian to say the least.

    Elsewhere, fortunately, it’s Vitara business as usual. Which means a comfy ride, a well-judged driving position, space for five and their luggage, 40+ real-world mpg, and Suzuki’s enviable reputation for reliability.

    Regardless of spec there’s all the tech you actually need too; LED lights, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Apple CarPlay, Stop-Start. Parking Camera, Adaptive Cruise Control, ISOFIX… it’s all there. So too a 5 Star Euro NCAP rating. Yes, some of the interior plastics are a tad hard and scratchy, and in places the Vitara’s interior design is beginning to show its age – there are no digital dials and the sat-nav is a touch last season, maybe the season before - nevertheless, there’s an honesty to the Vitara that some other similarly-sized SUVs seem to lack. Buy the Allgrip version, select four-wheel drive, and the Vitara will go almost anywhere you point it. You can’t say that about a Nissan Juke! In fact of the Vitara’s now twenty-something rivals, only Toyota’s Yaris Cross offers an all-wheel drive option.

      It’s seven years since Suzuki re-introduced the Vitara, yet despite its age, there’s still authenticity about it that means it retains a certain charm. However, when it comes the Full Hybrid version, you can’t help but wonder that in their quest to push their perennial SUV ever forward, Suzuki have instead made it feel as if they’ve taken a step back.

     

   

 

Suzuki Vitara 1.5 Full Hybrid SZ5 4W AGS

Engine: 1,462 cc 4-Cyl petrol

Power:  114 bhp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 101 lbft @ 4,400rpm

Transmission:  6-speed AGS automated manual, with selectable ALLGrip four-wheel drive

Performance: 0-62mph 13.5 sec

Max Speed: 111 mph

MPG: 48.4 Combined (WLTP)

CO2: 132 g/km

Price: £29,299 otr.

@bird_liam

 

Many Thanks to Jessica, Ade, Alun, Leigh, Paul, and Perry, at Suzuki UK’s press office

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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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