With the release of the new Vitara, Suzuki now has a rival to the popular Nissan Juke and the Renault Captur. Initial road tests suggest it’s gone down well with critics, thanks to decent road manners and a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
Unlike most of its rivals, it’s pretty talented off road, too. Some of you might have noticed, however, Suzuki already produces a mini off-roader in the form of the Jimny. The Jimny is a dinosaur compared to the Vitara so consider this comparison more a demonstration of how far Suzuki has come.
The Jimny has existed since the previous millennium but, for some, the baby-Jeep look will be quite cute and charming. To others, it’s likely to look slightly comical, so this one is very much down to personal taste.
The Vitara, in contrast, has played it’s styling safe. Perhaps a little too safe, only time will tell how successful the Vitara will be in a class full of distinctive-looking rivals.
There has been some criticism levelled at the Vitara’s interior for looking a little bland and lacking the quality of rivals like the Peugeot 2008, but step into one from the Jimny and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped aboard one of the finest German luxury saloons.
The Jimny’s interior looked dated when it was released back in 1998 and, compared to modern offerings, it’s really not pretty in there. It’s hard wearing though – at least in the sense that you won’t be bothered if you scuff or break anything. As you’d expect for a car measuring just over 3.5 metres in length, interior space is cramped, so a practical family car it isn’t.
Conversely, practicality is an area where the 2015 Vitara scores very highly. Boot space is class-leading, while passenger accommodation is better than the Nissan Juke, if not quite on a par with the larger Vauxhall Mokka.
Out on the open road, the Vitara is a fun little thing to drive. It’s taken plenty of influence from the Swift hatchback and it really shows. Rivals like the Renault Captur and Vauxhall Mokka ride more smoothly, but that isn’t to say that the Vitara is uncomfortable by any means.
Which is more than can be said of the Jimny. The suspension is bouncy, grip levels are poor and there is an alarming amount of body roll. Refinement is poor, so you’ll have to raise your voice to hear passengers beside you.
If the Jimny has one saving grace, it’s that it’s brilliant off road. Thanks to its low weight and permanent four-wheel drive, it’ll skip and jump over pretty much any rough terrain you can throw at it. In this situation (and only this one) it’s brilliant fun.
From a company known for producing truly spectacular motorcycle engines, it seems like Suzuki put its interns in charge of the Jimny’s engine design. It’s inefficient, sluggish and well past its use-by date. It’s fairly dependable though.
The modern offerings found in the Vitara are much more amiable. The 1.6-litre petrol unit produces 120hp and is a sweet, revvy little thing. It’s potent enough to help the mini crossover sprint from 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds, while returning a reasonable 53.3mpg.
The diesel option isn’t bad either. The Renault-sourced units found in both the Captur and Nissan Juke are smoother but, with 118hp and 236lb ft of torque, it’s strong and flexible right the way through the rev range. It’ll return a claimed 70.6mpg too, while it falls into the second lowest tax band.
Value for money
The Suzuki Vitara is quite competitively priced relative to its rivals. The cheapest Renault Captur is £166 more expensive than the entry level Vitara, but the Renault is slower and only slightly more economical.
The Vitara’s sub-£14,000 starting price makes the price of the Jimny incredibly hard to justify. The most expensive 1.3 SZ4 model costs barely £350 less than the Vitara and, considering all of the modern toys the Vitara benefits from (not to mention modern safety features), the Jimny starts to look far too expensive. This perhaps explains the horrific depreciation afflicting Jimny ownership…
When it comes down to picking a winner, there really isn’t any contest. The Vitara starkly displays just how far Suzuki’s road cars have developed in recent years. It’s spacious, safe, reasonably refined and well-mannered on the road. The Jimny, on the other hand, is none of those things.
The one and only area that the Jimny is superior to the Vitara is in terms of off-road ability. Having said that, a quad bike is better still, but you’re unlikely to want to use one of those on your 9 to 5 commute either…
Even if you want the Jimny for its off-road ability, we can’t see the point of buying one new. Buy a cheap used one, ideally one covered in about three inches of mud. That way, you won’t care about getting it scruffy, you’ll have bags of fun, and should have a budget left for a car with decent on-road manners – like a Vitara.
To find out what discounts carwow could help you get, pop the Suzuki Vitara in our car configurator. Or, if you’re looking for a cheap, specialist off road vehicle, see what discounts are available on the Jimny. To see more options, head over to our deals page to see our latest offers.