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Suzuki Vitara Test Drive Review

Date: 06 March 2015   |   Author:

Category: Small 4x4
P11D price: £16,999
Key rival: Nissan Juke
On sale: 22 April 2015
Equipment: 7 airbags, 16in alloys, Bluetooth, DAB, MP3 player compatible, hill hold, tyre repair kit, engine stop/start, cruise control with speed limiter, leather steering wheel, air-con, LED daytime running lights
Engine: 120hp 1.6 petrol, 120hp 1.6 diesel
Trims: SZ4, SZ-T, SZ5
Transmissions: 5-sp manual, 6-sp manual, 6-sp auto

The all-new Vitara is Suzuki's second attempt at cracking the fleet market following its SX4 S-Cross.

As with the S-Cross, Suzuki engaged with residual value setters at an early stage, wanting to position the Vitara as a separate opportunity. According to the firm, the new model sits alongside its biggest volume seller, the Swift, as more of a lifestyle product, and its job is to attract new people to the brand.

Suzuki GB is expecting 10,000 sales in the vehicle's first full year, which is an impressive volume for a small brand.

While the Vitara's design isn't as funky as something like the Nissan Juke, it's certainly Suzuki's most European and design-led model yet. There are 10 personalisation options for exterior colours and little SUV design elements take influence from models such as the Range Rover Evoque.

Those design elements make their way into the cabin, with customers able to spec exterior model colours on the inside, and bold piano finish plastic features running across the dash and dial surrounds.

There are still some hard plastics, but they're not harsh, and while some of the switchgear is a little basic, the standard seven-inch touch-screen on the SZ-T trim is modern and intuitive, splitting navigation, phone, media and radio into four corners.  And for a Juke rival, it's taller, longer and wider, and buyers get a lot of interior space.

Suzuki has a strong line-up of engines for the Vitara, with all diesels and most petrols below 130g/km. The fleet favourite will be the two-wheel drive 106g/km diesel and it suits the Vitara better than the 120hp 1.6-litre petrol. Despite the diesel having the same power output, it naturally has more torque and it's better to drive as a result.

There is a four-wheel drive version available on the diesel for fleets operating in rural locations and it doesn't have a big impact on CO2, adding 11g/km.

There's not a great deal of feedback through the steering wheel, but the Vitara is surprisingly agile around corners, with minimal body roll.

By Suzuki's own admission, the car is entering a very crowded market, and at the time of going to press
whole-life running costs were not available. However, customers get a good level of standard equipment, a capable, low-CO2 diesel, and Suzuki is claiming it has been given indications that RVs could be as high as 40%. It's also very well positioned in terms of price, at over £1000 less than the equivalent Juke.0

The only thing holding the Vitara back in fleet is the brand's lack of presence in the market. Sales will be retail led at 70/30, and without a large fleet field sales team to push the product, Suzuki says it will be relying on drivers demanding the car to get it on to choice lists. However, for user choosers, contract hire and Motability, the Suzuki is a strong little SUV contender.

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 DDis SZ-T 120

Model price range                              £13,999-£21,299
Fuel consumption                                            70.6mpg
CO2 (BIK band)                                     106g/km (17%)
BIK 20/40% per month                                      £48/£96
Warranty                                                 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max)                               375/710 litres
Engine size/power                                    1599cc/120hp

Verdict


A small SUV wildcard that represents good value
7/10
  • Efficient
  • Well equipped
  • Good value
  • Interior still isn't as high quality as competitors

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