Video | Suzuki Vitara: watch our week-long test drive
We gave the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid to a young family in Blackpool to put all of its family-friendly features to the test – here’s what they learned...
The Suzuki Vitara has built a reputation as a dependable and practical compact family SUV, and the recent introduction of an even more efficient hybrid system – along with the Vitara’s high level of standard safety equipment, compact urban-friendly dimensions, bundles of tech and plenty of versatile space – makes it perfect for urban-based families.
That’s why we gave it to Blackpool-based Rafael Jesus and his family to give all of its big features the ultimate week-long test. Rafael sums-up the opportunity: “I actually considered a Suzuki Vitara before I bought my current car, but there were a few things I wasn’t sure about. This has been a great opportunity to clear any doubts. Now, if I were to looking to buy a crossover, this would be on my wish list.”
Watch our video and read on to get even more of his in-depth impressions.
Strong SUV styling meets urban-friendly dimensions
The Suzuki Vitara draws on classic design cues and blends them with strong, modern SUV style to create an eye-catching family car unlike anything else on the road. The clamshell bonnet (a hallmark of the Vitara’s iconic design) works with the angular bumpers and sleek LED headlights to forge an imposing rugged stance, while the pronounced side profile and door contours hark back to the classic first-generation car of 1988.
At the back, LED rear lights make the Suzuki Vitara look as modern as it is rugged, while a sloping roof and specially designed wingmirrors help it cut through the air more efficiently. Striking alloy wheels – available as painted or polished – along with a choice of up to 11 colour combinations also make the Suzuki Vitara truly customisable.
“I really like the front grille, and the headlights help make it look really strong”, says Rafael. “I have an ‘over-the-shoulder’ test I do with all my cars – if I feel the need to look back at the car when walking away from it, then it’s good looking! I definitely looked back at the front of the Vitara more than once. I like the colour, too. It’s different in the sea of black, white, and grey.”
The Suzuki Vitara also offers a high-rise SUV driving position which, mixed with compact urban-friendly dimensions, makes manoeuvring around town a breeze. “My wife wants a taller car and the Suzuki Vitara does sit slightly higher than most cars,” says Rafael. “It offers better visibility – it gives the feeling of driving above the traffic.”
At just 4175mm long and 1775mm wide, tight spaces aren’t an issue in the Suzuki Vitara either: “It’s a comfortable size,” says Rafael. “I’ve driven it in plenty of tight situations this week, and it’s very easy to gauge the proportions of the car and fit into tight spaces.”
Great equipment for all the family
Inside, the Suzuki Vitara offers a wealth of advanced infotainment technology mixed with heaps of comfort. In front of the driver, a high-definition 4.2in colour LCD screen displays important vehicle information – including torque output, regenerative braking, fuel consumption, and even a G-force tracker for a bit of fun.
On the dashboard, the crisp and intuitive 7.0in touchscreen with DAB radio comes as standard, while Android Auto and Apple CarPlay makes linking your smartphone quick, easy and safe. A USB port and 12v socket help keep your devices topped-up, while adaptive cruise control and automatic air conditioning also come as standard.
Privacy glass and plush white seat stitching also comes as standard, while top-spec SZ5 versions offer keyless entry with start button and a vast panoramic sunroof that gives the interior of the Suzuki Vitara a light, airy and welcoming feel. Interior materials are solid and plush, while supportive seats make long journeys a joy.
Rafael loves his music, podcasts and audiobooks and thought the sound system in the Suzuki Vitara was a highlight: “The DAB radio works great. The sound system is quite good, too, it’s loud and clear. And with the EQ changes I personally prefer, it did a very good job.
“I used Apple CarPlay because I have an iPhone. It’s great for Maps and Waze, and with all the laws surrounding mobile phones in cars, it’s essential to have easy connectivity like this.
The panoramic sunroof was a winner, too: “Everyone loved the sunroof, especially the kids. They loved it when it was raining and kept asking me to open it when the sun came out. It gave a really nice atmosphere inside the car at night too, which I didn’t expect.”
Plenty of versatile room
All family SUVs must be practical, and the Suzuki Vitara delivers by the bucketload. With 362 litres of space, a square design, a wide-opening tailgate, a couple of useful cubbies and a trick false-floor, the boot of the Suzuki Vitara is extremely practical. If you need more space, simply fold down the 60:40-split rear seats.
Clearly, space is important for Rafael and his family. “I have a three-year-old and an eight-month-old”, he says. “That means two child seats and sometimes two prams, and bags to carry the extra clothes and nappies and snacks.”
“We took the Suzuki Vitara for the big monthly shop, and it fitted everything including the kids’ prams which I wasn’t quite expecting. I also traded a large electronic keyboard for a new guitar during the week and got both in the back easily with the seats folded down. The kids were comfortable in the back seats, too. My daughter’s child seat is front facing, while my son’s is rear facing. It was easy enough to put their chairs in with the Isofix, easier than in other cars we’ve had.”
Up front, a wealth of useful cubbies and large door bins mean you’ll never run out of space for your tech, drinks and snacks, while there’s plenty of headroom for adults despite the sporty sloping roofline.
Cost-saving hybrid power
Out on the open road, the Suzuki Vitara uses an efficient and punchy hybrid powertrain that offers the benefit of an electric boost without the need to plug in. It blends a torquey 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with an advanced lightweight 48v hybrid system that amps up the power delivery, while also using intelligent regenerative braking to put power back into the battery for later use – improving fuel efficiency as a result.
When accelerating, the electrically enhanced 129hp and 235N of torque has plenty of poke, getting you from 0-60mph in a swift and effortless 9.5 seconds. Below speeds of 10mph, the electric motor takes control of engine idling, helping you save fuel around town. All this makes for official economy figures of 52.7mpg (WLTP), with CO2 emissions as low as 121g/km – helping you save on road tax.
“The Suzuki Vitara is nice and light to drive”, says Rafael. “The clutch was one of the highlights of the car because it’s so forgiving. The road noise is very acceptable too, the engine is very quiet – quieter than my current car.
“Acceleration was very respectable, and the Sport mode sharpens the response which is great for overtaking. And, since the hybrid system is able to put power back into the battery, it can help you save on fuel and every little helps these days.”
Advanced safety technology
Finally, the Suzuki Vitara is designed to be incredibly safe for you and your family. It comes with seven airbags as standard, a 5-star Euro NCAP rating and a vast array of driver aids that lend an extra pair of eyes when on the road, letting you drive more confidently.
Dual Sensor Brake Support comes as standard and offers an audio and visual warning if it detects a potential collision and will apply the brakes with increased force to help avoid an accident, while Lane Departure Warning will sound an alarm and steer you back into lane if you start wandering across the central line.
Traffic Sign Recognition reads speed limit signs and displays them on the dashboard, while parking sensors and reversing camera all lend a watchful eye when you’re on the move or parking. Adaptive Cruise Control comes as standard and helps you keep a safe distance from the car ahead, while Vehicle Sway Warning gives an audible noise when the car begins to weave at speeds above 37mph.
And it’s not just the driver aids that help give you confidence. Available as an optional extra on selected model versions, ALLGRIP four-wheel drive with four driver-selectable modes: Auto which prioritises fuel economy, Sport that’s perfect for twisty roads giving you maximum confidence, Snow which is ideal for the slipperiest for surfaces, and Lock which is used for extricating the Vitara from snow, sand and mud. Hill Hold Control comes as standard too, perfect for when heading off the beaten track.
So, with strong SUV styling, a wealth of standard safety equipment, plenty of versatile family space, an efficient hybrid system and oodles of great infotainment technology, the Suzuki Vitara makes for a true all-round family SUV. After a fantastic week, Rafael says: “If I were to buy a crossover, this would be on my shortlist.
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