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First drive: Suzuki Vitara 1.0 BoosterJet. Image by Suzuki.

First drive: Suzuki Vitara 1.0 BoosterJet
Suzuki drops diesel and goes all turbo-petrol for the revised Vitara line-up.

 



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Suzuki Vitara 1.0 BoosterJet

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Suzuki updates the joint-largest of its crossover/SUV family for the 2019 model year, and the latest Vitara remains a good, strong alternative to the mainstream competitors in its market segment, if not quite a vehicle that we can put on the class podium - even with the adoption of an all-turbocharged engine line-up.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Suzuki Vitara 1.0 BoosterJet SZ-T AllGrip
Pricing: Vitara range from 16,999; 1.0 SZ-T AllGrip from 20,799
Engine: 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Transmission: AllGrip all-wheel drive, five-speed manual
Body style: five-door crossover-SUV
CO2 emissions: 162g/km* (VED Band 151-170: 515 first 12 months, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 49.5mpg**
Top speed: 111mph
0-62mph: 12.0 seconds
Power: 111hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 170Nm at 2,000-3,500rpm
Boot space: 375-710 litres
* figure quoted as full WLTP
** figure quoted as NEDC-correlated

What's this?

The Suzuki Vitara, perhaps once the only crossover/SUV/4x4 from this left-field Japanese manufacturer that you would ever consider owning, but one which now heads a vastly expanded product range in this field for the marque - a line-up which incorporates vehicles as diverse as the microscopic Ignis, the mediocre SX4 S-Cross and the majestic Jimny. The Vitara, really, represents the most 'normal' crossover-SUV of Suzuki's four-strong brood and it deserves the 'SUV' epithet because there are models available with AllGrip four-wheel drive, the other vehicles in the range being front-wheel drive.

For the 2019MY, visually little has changed. A slightly-massaged radiator grille and front bumper arrangement is harder to spot than the 'three-bar' LED rear lamp clusters that now grace the Vitara's rump, while inside there's a new cloth trim for the entire range, suede seat fabric on range-topping SZ5 models (lesser trims still run SZ4 then, bizarrely, SZ-T), a 4.2-inch colour information display in the instrument cluster... and a soft-touch panel for the dashboard construct. This last feature aims to make the Suzuki seem upmarket and plush, but it seems a little bit like an 'afterthought' upgrade and it doesn't hide the fact the rest of the plastics within the cabin are substandard; most notably the tough door cards, which abut said new soft-touch fascia and are thrown into stark relief by what we presume to be unintentional juxtaposition on the carmaker's part.

The bigger news for the 2019MY Vitara, then, revolves around the oily bits rather than the packaging. There have been significant engine changes, not least the desertion of all diesel models - the Suzuki is now petrol only, and furthermore all the motors are turbocharged, too. This means the old 1.6-litre normally aspirated engine has gone but, somewhat regrettably, the sporty S model has also met its demise. However, fear not - the 140hp/220Nm 1.4-litre BoosterJet engine which powered the now-defunct Vitara S, and which is seen in ever-so-slightly-torquier-trim in the Swift Sport, is maintained. It's just that it has become an 'engine option' on the upper SZ-T and SZ5 grades.

The other engine option, which is the only motor offered at SZ4 level and not available with SZ5 specification, is the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder BoosterJet unit, as employed in other Suzukis such as the Baleno hatch. It delivers 111hp and 170Nm, numbers which are (respectively) 9hp down and 14Nm up on the old 1.6-litre NA Vitara. Performance and eco-stats for the 1.0 BoosterJet model are broadly the same as they were on the engine it supersedes, but the meatier torque - delivered fully 2,400rpm earlier on the rev counter than the 1.6's peak twist - means the turbo'd Vitara should be far nicer to drive. For those lamenting the diesel's passing, by the way, then know that the SHVS mild hybrid system will be fitted to the 1.0-litre BoosterJet Vitara in the near-future.

In terms of other drivetrain details, the 1.0 gets a five-speed manual 'box as standard, while the 1.4 gains a six-speed transmission, with a six-speed automatic offered as an option on both engines (where it adds 1,350 to the ticket). AllGrip four-wheel drive (+1,800) is available teamed to both engines: it'll be manual-only on the 1.0-litre engine, and available with both manual and automatic cog-swappers on the 1.4, and AWD is available on SZ-T cars and higher. UK prices for the revised Vitara start at a most reasonable 16,999 for a 1.0 SZ4 manual and rise to a not-quite-so-reasonable 25,649 for a 1.4 SZ5 AllGrip auto.

How does it drive?

The BoosterJet engine is most definitely a better companion for the lightweight Vitara (kerb weights of the entire range span from a mere 1,160kg to a still-trim 1,265kg) than the old 1.6-litre engine, because the torque hits home swiftly and earnestly from much lower revs, so the Suzuki feels more responsive and driveable as a result. It also makes a far nicer noise than the 1.6 and, to be truthful, the bigger 1.4-litre engine too, although it becomes louder and delivers greater vibrations at higher revs than the four-pot powerplant. Nevertheless, this is unquestionably the engine the regular Vitara range has always deserved.

Is the 2019MY Vitara perfect, though? Well, no, obviously not, but it remains likeable and talented. The ride quality is very good, the suppression of wind noise is largely excellent (you can thank the door mirrors in part for that, as Suzuki says they're specially shaped 'based on the results of airflow analysis') and while there's more tyre roar reverberating around the back of the cabin that we'd strictly like, overall the Vitara 1.0 BoosterJet is a very pleasant thing to travel around in. The manual gearbox is good, too, slick enough of throw and with a rewarding, chunky engagement that makes stirring it around the gate no particular hardship; well-spaced ratios, too, for the engine's spread of resources.

The handling is capable as well and the AllGrip provides decent traction, although - even with its enhanced midrange - the 1.0-litre Vitara still needs a fair degree of 'working' to get the car moving along at a decent clip; your average turbodiesel crossover is going to feel much more muscular than this. Despite this, though, what with the myriad other detail changes of the 2019MY Suzuki, what you have here is a B-segment-priced crossover that feels as spacious as, and as well-equipped as, some of the smaller C-segment rivals from the class above.

Verdict

We're not massively convinced by Suzuki's efforts at soft-touch interior finishing and it is obvious that you need to spec the Vitara carefully to avoid the price tag spiralling out of all sensible control (a nigh-on 26,000 Vitara makes a lot less sense than a 17-grand one), but get it right and there's a really good crossover-SUV here that deserves serious consideration if you're jaded with the 'usual suspect' brands. Furthermore, the adoption of the superb 1.0-litre BoosterJet engine has made this Japanese machine's line-up a stronger range than ever before, so it's fair to say this has been a successful - if very modest - midlife facelift by Suzuki.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 3 Dec 2018









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