What's the used Suzuki Vitara 4x4 like?
For a brand with a long history of making rugged 4x4s, it took Suzuki quite a long time to jump on the small SUV bandwagon. Previous Suzukis of this size had been good, solid workhorses, but not necessarily adept at providing that pleasing blend of on-road refinement and family-friendly practicality that marks out the best cars in this class; think Skoda Yeti and Kia Soul, for example.
Enter the Vitara. Upright, square-cornered and with plenty of air inside its wheel arches, it's aimed directly at the more high-rise, genuinely dual-purpose offerings among the new breed of small SUVs.
For the most part, it succeeds, and we think the Vitara is a genuinely competent car. It looks good, there’s the option of four-wheel drive (Allgrip) and the engine options are strong.
Buyers originally had a choice of three engines to propel the Vitara: 1.6-litre petrol and diesel units and a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol ‘Boosterjet’ engine, which is the most powerful engine in the range but was initially only available with four-wheel drive. After a 2019 facelift, the 1.6-litre diesel and petrol options were dropped and a turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol was added to the range, while the 1.4 Boosterjet was offered in both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive forms with either an automatic or manual gearbox.
All the engines are eager and responsive, but the 1.4 and 1.6-litre petrols can be quite thirsty, while the diesel – the most economical of the line-up – can be gruff under acceleration.
The Vitara drives well, too, and is certainly better than some of Suzuki’s earlier efforts. The compromise between ride and handling is well judged – it does both pretty well – and keen drivers will find the car surprisingly rewarding.
Inside, the driving position is good, as is visibility, and there’s a reasonable amount of space both front and back. The boot is a decent size, too. On the whole, the interior feels strong and solid, although the doors and tailgate feel and sound a little tinny and some of the interior plastics are a bit utilitarian. Quality was improved after the facelift, with the top part of the dashboard using some soft-touch plastics and a classier-looking instrument cluster.
The Vitara model range comes in SZ4, SZ-T, SZ5 and sporty S trim levels, but all are well equipped. The entry-level SZ4 gets air conditioning, cruise control, a DAB radio, electric windows, front foglights, USB and Bluetooth connectivity and 16in alloy wheels. Consequently, it doesn’t feel like a completely budget choice. We’d recommend seeking out the SZ-T trim, because it gets the integrated sat-nav and media system.
SZ-5 features lots of upmarket upgrades, including suede seat trim, LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof and adaptive cruise control, while the sporty S trim comes with stiffer sports suspension, black alloy wheels and sportier interior detailing.
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