Suzuki Vitara review

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Suzuki Vitara tipped our scales at 1124kg, against a class average of 1250kg

This is the only £18k car we can think of with LED headlights as standard

Upward-curving swage line looks exaggerated on a car that’s otherwise so straight-edged

Silver faux skid plates are fitted to all trim levels. But with the Rugged pack, they’re replaced by real, protective skid plates

Silver roof rails appear on all models but strike a much greater contrast against the black or white roof of a two-tone car

Visibility is pretty standard for a small crossover, but higher and better than in a normal supermini

Front seats are very comfortable, but all that budget plastic does take the edge off the cabin

Back row offers decent leg room but limited head room for full-sized adults

Adjustable floor means there’s no loading lip to negotiate. Boot capacity is 375 litres – slotting between a Nissan Juke and Skoda Yeti

Vitara’s infotainment system is very good. Menu systems are easy to understand and the touchscreen is commendably sharp

These controls win the testers’ award for clarity and simplicity, although some rivals benefit from dual-zone climate control in range-topping form

The 1.6-litre petrol variant is quicker than Suzuki’s performance figures suggest

Vitara’s low kerb weight enables brisk progress and competent dynamics

The compromise between handling and comfort in particular is well judged. Body roll is nicely regulated

The Vitara is solidly built in Suzuki’s image – and that’s fine with us

Close by Matt Saunders 8 March 2022 Follow @TheDarkStormy1 Share

How we test cars

This fascinating, ever changing, new car market of ours loves to confound and surprise. Its sands shift and class boundaries expand and contract all the time, somehow rarely leaving the car makers you expect to reap the benefit.

Suzuki is a case in point: The new Suzuki Vitara is from a maker with almost half a century of experience in making small 4×4, but Suzuki is only now getting around to taking a proper swing at the Skoda Yetis, Dacia Dusters and Vauxhall Mokkas of this world. Go figure. Suzuki’s entrant looks and sounds familiar but is different from any car wearing its nameplate before. Welcome, then, to the new Vitara.

This Vitara is lower, lighter and less powerful than its Grand Vitara siblingMatt SaundersRoad test editor

This new-groove compact SUV is related by platform to the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross crossover launched in 2013. The sister cars are quite cleverly differentiated, though. Whereas the SX4’s ruggedness is like that of a pair of Gore-Tex running shoes, the Vitara’s is more of a hiking boot.

Upright, square-cornered and with plenty of air inside its wheelarches, the Vitara goes after the more high-rised, genuinely dual-purpose offerings among the new breed of supermini-based SUVs.

That said, anyone trading into this car from its nearest recent antecedent in Suzuki’s range – the three-door, sub-4.0-metre Suzuki Grand Vitara sold between 2005-2014 – may be in for something of a shock.

That predecessor was 1.7m tall and, with what Suzuki called a built-in ladder-frame chassis, approaching 1.5 tonnes in weight. It was an old-school 4×4 with a low-range transfer ’box and a 2.4-litre engine.

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This Vitara is lower, lighter and less powerful, the result of a modern, rebalanced approach to the kind of added-capability design currently surging up the European sales charts.

Related Suzuki Vitara reviews

Suzuki Vitara 1.5 Full Hybrid SZ5 2022 UK first drive2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.4 S first drive2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6DDiS 4×4 prototype first drive

Suzuki’s specific expertise in making small cars on the one hand and SUVs on the other stands to give it a decisive advantage with this car. Let’s find out if it actually has.

Suzuki Vitara design & styling

Contrary to what its more assertive SUV styling may suggest, the Vitara slots into Suzuki’s showroom range below the S-Cross – on price and on overall length.

It’s reasonable to assume that a larger ‘Grand’ version will bookend that position at some point soon, taking the fight to the likes of the Mazda CX-5 and Ford Kuga. But even without back-up from a bigger brother, the normal Vitara could certainly hold its own among its burgeoning competitor set, being longer and taller than both a Renault Captur and the popular Nissan Juke.

The Vitara’s stylistic references to the 1988 original come thick and fast when you run your eye from nose to tail. The obvious ones are the shape of the headlights and the rising feature lines on its flanks.

Look harder and you’ll clock the clamshell bonnet and front wing vents as visual homage, too. What matters most is that Suzuki has penned a distinctive, sturdy, modern-looking design here – one with a more amiable and straightforward visual identity than plenty of its rivals.

The Vitara model range is slightly truncated by Suzuki’s normal standards, featuring only SZ4, SZ-T, SZ5 and sporty S trim levels, our test car being an SZ5 model. But options to customise the car’s look are greater than Suzuki owners are used to.

Several two-tone colour schemes are offered, with body and roof in contrasting paint, and you can also dress up your Vitara with special grille treatments and wheel arch garnishes, or with an Urban or Rugged accessory pack. The Urban pack gets you chrome foglight bezels and a roof spoiler, and the Rugged pack buys front and rear skidplates and extended bodyside mouldings.

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