SUZUKI VITARA S: smart SUV gets a vital boost

SU_1895THERE’S no simple recipe for making a good car better – but Suzuki seem to have come up with a vital ingredient.

Their all new Vitara has been a hit for the Japanese manufacturer since its launch last year.

Now it’s been given a vital spark – or more accurately, a boost – in the pleasing shape of the Vitara S and its new 1.4 litre direct injection turbocharged petrol engine. Quite simply, it’s a little cracker.

SU_1885Its 140ps gives it a wide spread of torque from a lowly 1500rpm, and there’s 17 per cent more power available over the more widely chosen till now 1.6 petrol unit.

The latest powerplant is the first application of Suzuki’s new BOOSTERJET technology which utilises a small displacement, high torque turbocharger and it really is a serious improvement.

There’s a definite step forward in how it shifts and, coupled with the light controls at your feet and fingertips, makes it an easy car to pilot around. If you’re a bit on the vigorous side then you might welcome a bit more support from the seats, but they’re fine for everyday driving.

SU_1878Coupled with a responsive six speed automatic box, as this one was, the Vitara proved to be more than adept in all the traffic conditions encountered during its spell here. Especially with its stop start technology used to the full trying to get through a gridlocked town to watch 100 points going up on the scoreboard during a rugby match.

On the fuel front, I failed miserably to get anywhere close to the claimed combined figure, and am still scratching my head why on that count.

Vitara S brings a bit more sporting character to the range, and is subtly but visually different from others in the range. You get a set of 17 inch gloss black alloys, a unique new front grille, satin silver door mirrors and a rear upper spoiler, while inside there’s red stitching and red edging to the heater vents.

SU_1907The Vitara S comes with an ALLGRIP (four wheel drive) system that has four driver-selectable modes (Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock) and uses a feedback function to send more torque to the rear wheels if it detects wheel spin at the front.

The new feed forward function gives the system the additional ability to predict front wheel spin risks from the road surface condition, accelerator pedal position and steering angle, and then send more torque to the rear wheels before wheel spin occurs.

The Vitara’s safety equipment includes a Radar Brake Support (RBS) system which scares the bejazzers out of you the first time it hollers out its warning.

SU_1903There’s a seven inch touch panel display dominating the centre of the dash and controlling navigation, radio, phone and other functions.

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. It’s not necessarily a sexy car, nor indeed an overly exciting one, but it does all of the things you might reasonably expect from a car and then a bit more. It has a bit more room than you might expect, it’s a bit nicer looking than you might expect, it’s a bit more economical than you might expect and it’s a bit more fun to drive than you might expect.
It also caused one of my neighbours to come out of his house to ask what it was like which doesn’t happen very often. I told him it was a perfectly good car. Because it is.

FASTFACTS: Suzuki Vitara S 1.4 BOOSTERJET ALLGRIP; £22,679 (with auto and metallic black paintwork; engine – four cylinder 16 valve turbocharged 1373cc, 140ps, 220Nm; top speed 124mph, 0-62mph 10.2secs; fuel – urban 44.1, extra urban 56.5, combined 51.3; CO2 128g/km; will it fit the garage? 4175/1775/1610 (l/w/h); 9,000 mile service interval.

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