Suzuki Vitara (2015-present)

With a low price but plenty of practicality and performance, the Suzuki Vitara could be a small SUV bargain

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Low price compared to rivals
Spacious interior
Looks like a more expensive car

Weaknesses 

Smallest engine is underpowered
Interior quality not the best in class
Likely to lose more money than similar cars
Suzuki Vitara prices from £8,734   Finance from £130 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 sells for a large premium, the Vitara is all about value for money.

With a new price of just under £17,000 before discounts, the Suzuki offers space, good performance and a well-equipped interior - a package that few other cars in its class can match.

Its biggest problem is likely to be in convincing buyers of cars such as the Renault Captur, Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Vauxhall Mokka X that they should consider an alternative with the relatively obscure Suzuki badge.

As a small crossover (also known as a small SUV), 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 an off-road car, giving you a higher driving position and more headroom for passengers.

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 before any Suzuki Vitara discounts,add a touchscreen with rear camera and sat-nav. The car was updated in late 2018, when the touchscreen gained Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for easy 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.

All it lacks is the polish of rivals such as the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V. The diesel engine on used models clatters when you start it up, the smallest petrol engine needs to be revved hard for the best performance (which reduces fuel economy) and the materials used in the straightforward interior don’t feel as soft or expensive as you would find in an Audi Q2.

But it's perfectly good to drive, turning sharply with the agility of a shorter hatchback, and without much leaning. It's comfortable too, even though it doesn't cushion bumps as well as a Volkswagen Golf or Renault Megane - a criticism that can be applied to most small crossovers.

You also have the option of four-wheel drive, which gives the Vitara some off-road performance to go with its rugged looks.

In fact, there's very little compromise needed if you opt to pay a low price for this very substantial car.

    

Last Updated 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - 10:30

Key facts 

Warranty: 
Three-years/60,000 miles
Boot size: 
375 litres
Length: 
4175mm
Width: 
1775mm
Height: 
1610mm
Tax: 
£170-£210 in first year, £145 thereafter

Best Suzuki Vitara for... 

Suzuki Vitara 1.0 SZ4
The basic 1.0 SZ4 manual is the economy champ with an official figure of 45.9mpg
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.
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.
Vitara 1.0 SZ-T automatic
The Vitara 1.0 SZ-T auto is slow and expensive.

Suzuki Vitara History 

  • 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 car names 

  • Vitara
  • Engine
    1.4 Boosterjet
  • Gearbox
    Manual
  • Driven wheels
    Allgrip
  • Trim level
    SZ5
  • Engine
    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.
  • Gearbox
    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
    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
    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 and 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.

Fuel

Official uel economy

Power

Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed

1.0 Boosterjet

Petrol

39.4–45.9mpg

111hp

11.5-12.0sec

111mph

1.4 Boosterjet

Petrol

36.6–43.6mpg

124hp

9.5-10.2sec

124mph

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.

There are currently 60 Suzuki Vitaras available on BuyaCar, with prices ranging from £8,734 to £17,995 for nearly-new models. Monthly finance payments start from £130 per month.

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 £9,550.

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 £8,734. 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.