Suzuki Vitara Review
With a low price but plenty of practicality and performance, the Suzuki Vitara could be a small SUV bargain
Strengths & weaknesses
- Spacious interior
- Low price compared to rivals
- Looks like a more expensive car
- Smallest engine is underpowered
- Interior quality not the best in class
- Likely to lose more money than similar cars
Suzuki Vitara prices from £9,499 Finance from £170.00 per month
Its shape and styling might remind you of a Range Rover Evoque but the Suzuki Vitara is an entirely different prospect altogether. Where the Evoque is an expensive fashion statement with plenty of fancy tech, the Vitara is all about value for money.
Brand new, the Vitara costs just under £17,000, offering plenty space, good performance and a well-equipped interior - a package that few other cars in its class can match. The biggest problem for Suzuki is likely to be in convincing fans of the more established Renault Captur, Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Vauxhall Mokka X that they should consider this relatively obscure alternative.
As a small crossover, the Suzuki Vitara is built in the same way as a conventional family car, for good fuel economy and comfort. It combines this with the added height of a typical off-road car, giving you a higher driving position for improved confidence behind the wheel - it's this that gives cars of this type such broad appeal. The option of four-wheel drive also gives the Vitara an extra edge for drivers keen to explore beyond the painted white lines.
The result is a spacious interior with room for three adults in the back, providing more room to stretch your legs than you'll find in a Nissan Juke or Renault Captur. The 375-litre boot is only average in size and can't compete with the 470 litres of the Honda HR-V, but that car costs considerably more.
The Vitara's price doesn't make it a low-rent choice. It’s modern, with a Euro NCAP five-star safety rating and a good level of basic standard equipment, including air conditioning, alloy wheels and Bluetooth for connecting your phone wirelessly.
Basic models make do with a dated-looking digital radio, though; mid-range SZ-T cars, which are priced from £19,000, add a touchscreen display with a rear view camera and sat-nav. The car was updated in late 2018, when Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility was added to the media system in-car control of phone apps.
The update also brought some design tweaks, including the replacement of horizontal bars on the grille with vertical ones and new colour options, as well as more efficient petrol engine options but the car is substantially the same as the one previously.
|Boot size||375 litres|
|Tax||£170-£210 in first year, £145 thereafter|
Best Suzuki Vitara for...
Best for Economy – Suzuki Vitara 1.0 SZ4
The basic 1.0 SZ4 manual is the economy champ with an official figure of 45.9mpg
Best for Families – Suzuki Vitara 1.4 SZ5
It’s almost the most expensive, but with its extra power and grip, plus its considerable safety and convenience tech, the 1.4 SZ5 Allgrip manual wins here.
Best for Performance – Suzuki Vitara 1.4 SZ-T
Without the extra weight of four-wheel drive, the two-wheel-drive Vitara 1.4 SZ-T manual is the pick. The auto is as quick but less economical. SZ5 is just unnecessarily expensive.
One to Avoid – Vitara 1.0 SZ-T automatic
The Vitara 1.0 SZ-T auto is slow and expensive.
- 2015 Model launched with choice of 1.6 petrol and diesel engines, and in SZ4, SZ5 and SZ-T trims. Urban and Rugged styling packs also available.
- June 2015 Automatic gearbox joins the range.
- September 2015 Vitara S powered by new 1.4 Boosterjet petrol launched.
- January 2018 SZ-T-based Kuro special edition launched.
- November 2018 Updated Vitara launched with stying changes, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto and minor equipment changes. New Boosterjet engines replace the 1.6 petrol and diesel units.
Understanding Suzuki Vitara names
Engine 1.4 Boosterjet
The Vitara's engine size is given in litres. The old diesel engine has been dropped from the current line-up leaving just two engines, a 1.0-litre and a 1.4-litre. Both are petrol and both turbocharged, and fall under the moniker of Boosterjet.
The 1.0 Boosterjet comes with a five-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic at extra cost. Same goes for the more powerful 1.4 petrol engine, except that the manual is a six speed.
Driven wheels Allgrip
The Vitara is front-wheel drive as standard, but you can order it with four-wheel drive, called Allgrip. It’s a sophisticated system offering four modes: Auto, when the system engages four-wheel drive when necessary, Sport, when it does so actively in response to how quickly you’re driving, Snow, when you need greatest traction and Lock, when it’s permanently engaged.
Trim level SZ5
The different Vitara trim levels come with varying levels of standard equipment. The most basic is the Vitara SZ4, followed by the SZ-T and top-spec SZ-5. In addition you can personalise your Vitara with a choice of four optional styling packs.
Suzuki Vitara Engines
Petrol: 1.0 Boosterjet, 1.4 Boosterjet
The current Vitara range is available with a choice of two petrol engines: a 1.0 litre and a 1.4, both turbocharged and named Boosterjet. The 1.6 diesel, and 1.6 petrol were dropped when the model was updated in late 2018.
The cheapest engine is the 1.0 Boosterjet with two-wheel drive. It’s efficient for a car of this type and has an official fuel economy figure of 45.9mpg but this falls to 39.4mpg with Allgrip four-wheel drive. Acceleration is steady rather than spectacular. It’s available with a choice of a five-speed manual or six speed automatic gearboxes.
The larger 1.4-litre Boosterjet engine is more powerful but only slightly less economical at 43.6mpg in two-wheel drive form or a worst of 36.6mpg with Allgrip. The extra power is noticeable, particularly when you need to accelerate to overtake: the 1.4-litre engine needs much less time to get up to speed. It’s manual or automatic gearboxes each have six speeds.
Official uel economy
Suzuki Vitara Trims
SZ4, SZ-T, SZ5
You need to pick the trim level on your Vitara with care because there are no optional extras, only optional styling packs. If you want a panoramic sunroof, for example, you’ll need the SZ5 model, which is the only version that it’s fitted to.
Regarding current-model Vitaras, the cheapest, called the SZ4, comes with the 1.0-litre petrol engine and a five-speed manual gearbox. It’s well-equipped for the price, with climate control, Bluetooth for wireless phone connectivity, 16in alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel and split-fold rear seat, so you can lower one of the back seats to boost luggage space, while leaving another for a passenger. The SZ4 is the only Vitara that comes with a CD player, but this comes attached to an old-fashioned radio, rather than a touchscreen.
Moving up to SZ-T brings some significant upgrades, including a touchscreen with a rear parking camera, sat-nav as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you can control your apps using the screen or voice commands. The alloy wheels are larger, at 17in, and there’s tinted glass for rear passengers. This trim is available with either the manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic, and two-wheel or Allgrip four-wheel drive. Your choice of engine is between the 1.0 or 1.4 Boosterjet petrol.
The top-spec SZ5, is available only with the 1.4 petrol engine but a choice of two or four-wheel drive. You sit on suede seats, underneath a panoramic sunroof, with brighter LED headlights guiding the way. It has adaptive cruise control, which maintains a set distance from the car in front, polished alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, folding door mirrors, and keyless entry and start, so you never have to take the key fob out of your pocket. Automatic emergency braking that can help avoid crashes at low speeds is also included.
To make your Vitara more distinctive, you can choose from one of four optional styling packs called Urban, Rugged, Kuro and Shiro, bringing colour chnages to parts of the exterior.
Suzuki Vitara Reliability and warranty
Suzuki cars have an excellent reliability record, for which the company’s standard three-year warranty doesn't do justice. Some interior materials may sound hollow and feel plasticky, but the Vitara is solidly screwed together and unlikely to give trouble. That said, there have been reported issues with the automatic gearbox feeling ‘jerky’.
Used Suzuki Vitara
A lack of image is the Vitara’s biggest problem. It looks good, it’s reliable, and it’s good value for money but up against more sophisticated rivals it lacks polish and desirability, key factors in supporting used prices. The result is that used Vitaras offer excellent value for money.
The discontinued 1.6-litre diesel engine is around 10mpg more efficient than the 1.4-litre Boosterjet petrol. Performance is similar to the 1.0 Boosterjet petrol engine. It is noisy as it clatters away during acceleration, but becomes much quieter when you’re driving at a steady speed.
Prices for diesel models start from £9,499.
Mid-spec SZ-T trim is one to look out for. It looks more upmarket than the basic SZ4, but is still good value for money. These models start from £9,995. The now defunct high-spec Vitara S comes with four-wheel drive, black panels and black 17in alloy wheels mark out the car’s exterior. Inside, there are red highlights on the dashboard. It comes with most of the equipment on the SZ5, but not the panoramic sunroof.
Look out for the styling packs, too. A used Vitara with a styling pack won't cost much more than one without, but will look and feel more special.