6 December 2019

Suzuki Vitara 2019 Car Review

The modern Suzuki Vitara is a bit of a two-headed beast, literally. The name no longer simply covers an unassuming off-road performer.

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Suzuki Vitara 2019
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Suzuki Vitara 2019
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Suzuki Vitara 2019
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Suzuki Vitara 2019
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Suzuki Vitara 2019
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Suzuki Vitara 2019
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Suzuki Vitara 2019

The Grand Vitara gets the ladder chassis and the dirt cred, while the plain Vitara badge developed to suit a more tarmac-based, urban buyer, and uses the same platform as Suzuki’s S-Cross.

Its lines still suggests SUV, and you can get AWD versions – for those who may leave the seal, but are likely to stick to ski access or gravel back roads –which are as capable as any other urban crossover. But we took the honest route. Our tester had no plans to leave the seal, so we tried out the 2WD turbo.

For starters, because it doesn’t have the mechanical underpinnings of a serious off-roader – the part-time 4WD, the strong ladder chassis – Suzuki has been able to work on ride comfort and handling, so it also does without crude road manners and a truck-like ride. And it’s been designed to appeal to those likely to want a suggestion of SUV about the looks, with the practicality of a family wagon.

On paper, it looks as if it should be under-powered. Yes, that is a 1.4-litre – actually 1373cc – engine under the bonnet. Suzuki pretentiously calls it a Boosterjet, but you can forget high g-forces and superhero-acceleration. Instead what you get is a torque peak that arrives at 1500rpm and stays on song to 4000rpm, which means it pulls well at almost any legal speed you care to name, and pulls equally well when it’s hilly.

It helps that this isn’t a heavy car. Our 2WD version weighs only 1120kg, so the engine isn’t working too hard, and that also brings payback in terms of fuel economy.

We found it easy to manoeuvre or park – the rear camera and front and rear sensors help make the most of a relatively compact footprint – and lively enough not to get left behind at the lights. It seemed equally at home on the open road. No, you can’t make like your racing heroes – push too far and it will understeer, and the electronic nannies will come in to ensure this relatively compact, relatively tall equivalent to a family hatch stays on the hard, and feels safe and predictable if you do overcook that bend.

All of that is pretty much the same as it was for this car’s predecessor. What changed in February 2019 was the front, as it got a literal facelift with a fresh look, and a boost to the features list that focus on safety.

This variant therefor has weaving alert, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert and emergency auto braking. We got to test the cross traffic alert more than once in shopping centre car parks, and our only gripe is a common one, the ‘imminent collision’ warning feels as if it’s come in a little too early when there’s a car on the outside of a tight, slow-speed bend. Mind you, one day its owner might be glad of that early warning…

Given this was a press car, we drove what we got. The two-tone (here gold, with a black roof) adds $800 to the one-colour price. But we’re told there’s quite a wide range of other options to let you add or downplay a few visual accents, according to your tastes.

It’s easy to like this Vitara. The relatively restrained design is handsome, the contrast roof enhancing the look. Cabin comfort is ahead of this price point, the engine seems beautifully matched to its likely purpose, and the comfy, controlled ride was particularly appreciated on the potholed and lumpy rural roads of our tester’s commute.

It’s not all fabulous, some of the plastics are a bit too plasticky to the touch, and the touch screen isn’t as simple and intuitive as some – it can be a bit of a fiddle, but at this price point, it’s hard to complain too much.

Vitara sells in a hotly contested segment, with Mazda, Hyundai, Holden, Honda, Mitsubishi and Toyota all fielding players, as do Citroën, Seat and Skoda – and that’s without stepping up in price. Throw your own tastes in the balance and it could just come down to looks, with Vitara and Citroën’s C3 Aircross both allowing minor customization options to gild the lily.

At a glance


Suzuki Vitara Turbo 2WD Two-Tone


1.4 litre four-cylinder petrol 



ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

103kW at 5500rpm and 220Nm at 1500-4000rpm


Six-speed auto

Fuel economy


Towing capacity



2WD front as tested (4WD available)

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

375 litres, 710 with rear seats folded

 Safety systems

  • Reversing camera with front and rear sensors
  • Brake Assist
  • Speed Limiter
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Blind Spot Monitor
  • Weaving Alert
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Auto headlights/wipers
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