Suzuki Vitara Turbo AllGrip 2016 new SUV review

Suzuki invented the compact SUV segment in the 1980s with the Vitara, before everyone else came in and ran away with it.

Richard Edwards
Richard Edwards
Expert Reviewer | Auto Media Group

Suzuki pretty much invented the compact SUV segment in the 1980s with the Vitara, before everyone else came in and ran away with it. The brand is now back in the chase — with turbocharged power.

Exterior , 4 out of 5 Drive , 4 out of 5 Safety , 5 out of 5 Interior , 4.5 out of 5

Overall score , 4.4 out of 5

The good
  • Excellent turbo drivetrain
  • Roominess despite a small footprint
The not-so-good
  • Interior plastics feel cheap

The new turbo engine is the first of what is likely to be a range of boosted engines for the brand, with 1.0, 1.2 and 1.4-litre ‘BoosterJet’ engines available internationally. The unit in the Vitara is a 1.4-litre direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder. A compact turbocharger attached directly to the cylinder head reduces lag. 

Engine output increases by 20% to 103 kW, while torque is up 41% to 220 Nm in comparison to the normally aspirated 1.6-litre engined Vitaras.

In the official combined fuel cycle test, the Vitara Turbo returns 5.9 l/100 km - and we would believe that figure from our week-long test.

The engine is teamed with a six-speed automatic, and the pair make a sweet combination. The delivery of the power is a little all-or-nothing, but it feels far quicker than the reported output would suggest. It will run on to 200km/h, but you really shouldn’t do that!

The all-wheel-drive system has Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock modes taking information from the accelerator and steering angle sensors to adjust for different terrain.

Unique look

Our review Vitara came in a great looking red-black combination, right down to the 17-inch wheels. The turbo models get a unique grille, satin-finished door mirrors, red headlamp surrounds and red detailing to the interior trim.

Standard specification includes Satellite navigation-equipped infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, leather seats with suede inserts and red stitching, cruise control with speed limiter, keyless entry and ignition, climate control air conditioning, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, steering wheel sound system controls, LED daytime running lights, automatic wipers and power windows and mirrors.

Additionally, the Vitara Turbo offers parking sensors front and rear, reversing camera, auto-levelling and dusk-sensing LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, seven airbags, stability control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and emergency brake assist.

Yes, it is ANCAP five-star safety rated. We would love to see the addition of autonomous emergency braking, and we understand that is under trial.

Room to move

One of the most impressive aspects to us in the new Vitara has to be its roominess inside. Four six-footers can happily fit - something that can’t be said for everything else in the segment.

Storage is good as well. The boot is augmented by a hidden compartment and a recess either side for items that might slide around (with a neat touch of having a bag hook above them). Boot capacity of 375 litres with the rear seats up is about 20 more than in the Juke, and if you fold the back seats down it increases to 710 litres but they don’t fold flat.

Apple CarPlay is a boon for tech-heads like us, and Suzuki’s infotainment system, even without the smartphone, is still rather good, and impressive for what is a relatively budget-priced vehicle.

If there is a let down in the interior it is the plastics. Durable maybe, but hard and a little budget looking.

Good value

It is hard to argue the Vitara Turbo pair don’t represent good value, at $33,990 for the two-wheel-drive and $37,990 for all-wheel-drive. It offers more torque and uses less fuel than either the Honda HRV or Mazda CX-3. It also tops the Honda with all-wheel-drive, and the Mazda on space and flexibility. Those two are probably slightly more refined mature vehicles — but for some, the Vitara’s turbo urge will have great appeal.

Note: this was reviewed as a new vehicle.

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