First Drive

2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.4 Boosterjet Allgrip S review

The Vitara range gets a new flagship model with a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, as well as cosmetic upgrades inside and out.

Words ByDoug Revolta

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Suzuki is introducing some new small turbocharged petrol engines to its line-up.

The forthcoming Baleno will get one such engine, and we were impressed when we drove it recently. Before it arrives in the UK with its 1.0-litre turbocharged engine, though, the Suzuki Vitara gets a new 1.4-litre Boosterjet turbocharged petrol engine.

At launch, the small SUV was offered with a naturally aspirated 1.6-litre petrol unit, and it's our pick of the range, but now this more powerful option comes into the line-up as a flagship model in new S trim.

The 1.4-litre engine produces 138bhp and average fuel economy is a claimed 52.3mpg. The suspension has been very slightly tweaked to offer a sportier ride, too, and there’s a few added cosmetic upgrades inside and out.

S trim slots into the range above SZ5 trim, and Suzuki predicts the new S engine will account for around 20% of the Vitara’s overall sales.

What’s the 2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.4 Boosterjet Allgrip S like to drive? It’s surprisingly nimble. While it doesn’t quite offer warm-hatch performance, the Boosterjet engine injects the Vitara with a new lease of life and offers spritely performance without having a detrimental effect on efficiency.

In Sport mode the throttle response is more sensitive and the steering assistance is heavier. While acceleration is still progressive rather than rabid, it makes it more fun to drive than the 1.6-litre equivalent, largely thanks to its 20bhp power hike.

We’ve previously criticised the naturally aspirated Vitara for not having the low-down pull offered by its turbocharged rivals, but now the Boosterjet engine gives it just that, and it pulls well until the pulling power drops off past 4000rpm. Beyond that, the engine is rather boomy, but for the most part it actually has a pleasant-sounding thrum.

The 1.4 is available with an automatic gearbox, but we tested the Vitara S with a six-speed manual β€˜box and found the short-shifter accurate and slick.

The slight suspension alteration has not come at a great expense of ride quality. It is a little firmer than normal but not enough to dissuade those tempted by the increased performance offered by the Boosterjet.

Our test drive included a drive around Croft circuit, which highlighted some frailties in the sporty credentials of the Vitara S, namely body roll when tackling corners at speed, but it still offers just enough power and precision to be enjoyable to drive.

What’s the 2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.4 Boosterjet Allgrip S like inside? The cosmetic interior upgrades bring flashes of red trim in the cabin. As a flagship model, S trim comes with all the goodies, such as DAB radio, sat-nav, reversing camera, leather upholstery, as well as 17in black alloy wheels and silver door mirrors.

The touchscreen infotainment system is easy enough to use, but it can be a bit slow to respond, and there are still some hard plastics around the interior. It is generally a plusher cabin than in the lesser trims, though.

The front seats are comfortable and there’s adequate adjustment in the driver’s seat, although the steering wheel doesn't adjust for reach.

Interior dimensions are similar to that of the Kia Soul and there’s enough space in the back for adults to sit fairly comfortably. The 375-litre boot is a competitive size and useful shape, too.

Should I buy one? The Vitara now has a turbocharged petrol engine to compete with its rivals. It’s fun to drive, and remains practical, however, it’s unconfirmed price of around Β£21,000 would make it a much more expensive option than the 1.6-litre petrol model, even with the latter in mid-spec SZ-T trim.

Most buyers would be better off forgoing the extra performance of the Boosterjet and sticking with the 1.6-litre engine.

What Car? says...

Rivals

Renault Captur

Nissan Juke

Suzuki Vitara 1.4 Boosterjet S

Engine size 1.4-litre petrol

Price from Β£21,000 (est)

Power 138bhp

Torque 162lb ft

0-62mph 10.2 seconds

Top speed 124mph

Fuel economy 52.3mpg

CO2 127g/km

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What Car? SaysRated 4 out of 5
Owners sayNot yet rated

There are cheaper compact SUVs, but the Suzuki Vitara is one of the most spacious and best equipped.