2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 review

The new Suzuki Vitara is a compelling option for those seeking a practical and well-equipped crossover that's good to drive...

2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 review

The Suzuki Vitara is a new five-seat compact SUV that’s designed to rival the likes of the Nissan Juke and Citroën C4 Cactus, netting Suzuki a slice of the lucrative small SUV market in the process.

The Vitara is offered with a choice of 1.6-litre petrol or diesel engines; some models are available with four-wheel drive and you can even have an automatic gearbox. Buyers can pick from a host of personalisation options, too, ranging from interior trim panel colours through to exterior cosmetic upgrade packs.

As you’d expect from Suzuki, you get a lot for your money. The entry-level petrol SZ4 model will set you back £13,999 and comes with a DAB radio, Bluetooth, cruise control and climate control. A similarly specified Juke would cost you over £1500 more.

Flagship SZ5 trim (£17,999), brings a touchscreen sat-nav and media system, adaptive cruise control and LED headlights, as well as interior upgrades that include suede-covered seats.

What is the 2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 like to drive?

The Vitara is a surprisingly enjoyable car to drive, in part thanks to its eager 1.6-litre petrol engine. It revs smoothly and willingly, and even makes quite a good noise in the process.

It doesn’t offer up as much low-down pull as the turbocharged engines found in some of the Suzuki's rivals, but the saving grace is that the Vitara's five-speed manual gearbox is smooth and precise, so it's no chore to change gear and keep the engine in the higher rev ranges, where it responds best.

Only the Vitara’s steering really takes the edge off the experience. It’s overly light around the central position, and the weight that builds when cornering doesn't always arrive quickly enough. This can make the steering feel vague and uncommunicative, so while it’s fine around town, on faster roads this absence of feedback can be a little disconcerting.

All of the Suzuki’s other control responses, however, are well judged, pleasingly weighted and predictable. The brakes aren't snappy at low speeds, for example, and the Vitara even rides decently enough; it’s quite firm but not to the extent that it crashes over potholes and bumps, and it's not uncomfortable during longer drives.

This inherent stiffness grants the Suzuki a little sporting vigour, too; there's less body sway through corners than in many rivals.

What is the 2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 like inside?

Suzuki is well regarded for making durable and practical interiors, and the Vitara isn’t a departure from the norm in this respect. The cabin is a solid, sensibly laid out and well-built affair. Some piano-black trims and a neat analogue clock serve to add some class, although the hard plastics aren't especially appealing to look at or to touch.

Up front, you’ll find plenty of room and the steering column adjusts for both rise and reach, making it easy to find a decent seating position. The seats themselves could do with a little more side bolstering, as you do move around a little during corners, but they otherwise prove comfortable even during longer trips.

The back seats are similarly cosseting and have loads of legroom even behind a tall driver, but - particularly with the panoramic sunroof fitted as standard on SZ5 trim - headroom is a problem for long-bodied adults. 

You’ll find lots of space in the boot; it’s bigger than that in a Citroën C4 Cactus or Nissan Juke and easily accessed thanks to a wide-opening tailgate and a low boot lip. The rear seats split and fold, improving the available space if necessary, but they don't quite lie flat. You won't find a spare wheel anywhere, either, only a tyre repair kit – which is a shame, given the attention to detail on the practicality front elsewhere. 

Should I buy one?

If you're in the market for a small crossover then the Vitara should definitely be on your list – particularly if you're buying privately.

The SZ4 and SZT trims make the most sense because although they do without luxuries such as adaptive cruise control and the panoramic sunroof fitted to the SZ5, they're a fair bit cheaper to buy and benefit from more rear headroom than the range-topper.

The Vitara's relatively high CO2 emissions make it less appealing to company car drivers, but real-world fuel economy is surprisingly good; our True MPG team averaged 49.4mpg, which is only marginally shy of Suzuki's claim of 53.3mpg.

What Car? says...

Suzuki Vitara 1.6

Engine size 1.6-litre petrol

Price £17,999

Power 118bhp

Torque 115lb ft

0-62mph 11.5 seconds

Top speed 112mph

Fuel economy 53.3mpg

CO2 123g/km