Cars - Suzuki

Road tests and reviews of the latest Suzuki models available in South Africa

We road test the new 2016 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 GL+

2016 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 GL+

By Franky Johnson

For 2016 Suzuki launched an all-new Vitara - completely new from the ground up - building on the SUV spirit of the original Vitara first produced 27 years ago.

The new Suzuki Vitaras will compete in the very competitive compact crossover segment. The range comprises five-models, three specification levels – GL, GL+ and GLX – a choice of either two transmissions manual or auto and either front-wheel or AllGrip all-wheel drive, and all share the same 1.6 litre four-cylinder petrol engine. We put the 1.6 GL+ 5-speed manual through its paces.

The new Vitara is a compact vehicle, measuring just 4 175 mm long, 1 775 mm wide and 1 610 mm high. It can be identified by Suzuki’s traditional clamshell bonnet design, while a bold, two-blade grille links the bonnet to the trapezoidal lower air intake to create a strong visual link with the ground.

Slim, clear-lensed headlight clusters, colour-coded bumpers, recessed fog lamps and daytime running lights are all neatly integrated into the front-end design, while the short front overhang and raised stance allows for a departure angle of 18.2 degrees and 28.2 degrees respectively. The ramp breakover angle is 17.7 percent, while the minimum ground clearance is a useful 185 mm.

Viewed from the sides, the aerodynamic roofline, powerful shoulder line, and an accent line rises sharply over the rear fender. There are twin aluminium roof rails, privacy glass tinted windows at sides and rear. and the Vitara runs on 10-spoke titanium finish alloy wheels which on the press vehicle were shod with 215/60R16 Conti radials, but the spare wheel is a space saver.

At the rear, the wide opening tailgate and high-mounted tail light clusters link utility to aesthetic appeal.

Moving inside, the main instrument binnacle is dominated by dual analogue dials for speed and rev counter, while an information display between the two dials offers selectable trip computer information, including instant/average fuel consumption, operating range, average speed, outside temperature, a trip meter and odometer, and there’s an analogue clock mounted at the top of the centre dash. The display also includes a gear shift indicator, seatbelt reminders, door ajar alerts and a low fuel warning light. The plain, hard and shiny standard of finish of some of the plastics in the cabin may disappoint, but most will overlook that on a car as well equipped as this.

The three spoke multi-function steering wheel is adjustable for rake and reach, and houses the multifunction controls for the audio system, hands-free telephony, and cruise control and speed limiter systems.

The MP3/WMA-compatible multi-speaker audio system includes a CD player and FM/AM tuner, as well as USB connectivity. In addition, integrated Bluetooth connectivity allows hands-free telephony.

The cloth covered front bucket seats are height adjustable for both driver and front passenger, while at the rear, head restraints are provided for all five seating positions, and although two adults can sit quite comfortably, with three at a pinch. Foot room could be quite tight if the front seats are adjusted right back.

The rear bench seat splits 60/40 and can be folded flat partially or completely to provide a versatile mix of loading space and rear seating. The boot has 375 litres of luggage space with the rear seatback raised, rising to 710 litres with the seatbacks folded down. A luggage cover is provided to keep the contents out of view. Additionally, a luggage board allows the luggage space to be divided for flexible loading solutions.

Stowage for oddment is provided for in the front and rear door pockets with integrated holders for bottles of 1.5 litres, a smallish cubby hole, a driver’s side storage binnacle, dual front and rear cup holders, and a centre lower compartment which also hosts the USB and accessory sockets.

In terms of safety, the new Vitara comes fitted with a full array of active and passive safety features that includes ventilated disc brakes in front, solid discs at the rear, with ABS and brake assist, electronic stability control, seven airbags including a knee airbag, front seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters, and ISOFix child seat tethers. The Vitara attained a full five-star safety rating under the latest EuroNCAP crash safety tests.

The new Vitara is powered by Suzuki’s latest M16A 4-cylinder multipoint fuel-injected 1.6-litre petrol with variable valve timing. It produces a maximum output of 86 kW at 6 600 rpm and 151 Nm of torque at 4 400 rpm and delivers drive to the front wheels through a five speed manual gearbox. Performance wise, the Vitara acquits itself quite well. In acceleration tests, with a little chirp from the front tyres on take-off, it covered the 0 to 100 km/h dash in 10.8 seconds after two gear-changes, and has a top speed of 180 Km/h.

From the driver’s seat outward visibility is excellent, giving the driver a commanding view of the road, thanks to the elevated driving position. For driving around town the Vitara is deceptively nimble, with electric steering well weighted, the light clutch action and the gear-change very positive. It also has a good turning radius and is easy to park.

On the freeways travelling at the national limit the motor spins at 3 000 rpm in 5th gear and the cab was generally fairly quiet, except for road and tyre noise on some tarred surfaces. The suspension does a good job of ironing out bumps and the Vitara remains composed and stable at all times. The compromise between handling and comfort in particular is well judged, and body roll is well regulated.

Driving at highway speeds, the Vitara threads its way through corners very capably, and the electric power steering, despite being on the light side, is accurate although there is very little feedback from the road.

My average petrol consumption over the week I had the Vitara on test was, according to the trip computer, 7.1 litres per 100 km which is very good for a compact crossover.

The recommended retail selling price for the new Suzuki Vitara 1.6 GL+ we tested is R269 900 and that includes a three-year/100 000 km warranty, a four-year/60 000 km service plan, and a three-year roadside assistance package, with services intervals every 15 000 km.

Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Keep up with us on Pinterest Join our Google Plus circle Join us on Tumblr