Suzuki Vitara Review
The Suzuki Vitara is a no-fuss SUV that’s perfect for a growing family. It’s good to drive and offers decent space, but alternatives look more luxurious inside.
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If you’re looking for an affordable SUV with a raised driving position that’s reassuring to drive, the Suzuki Vitara is a great choice. Its bold looks mean you won’t lose it in a car park and there’s loads of space for carrying passengers, too.
Unlike the Honda HR-V and Peugeot 2008, the Suzuki Vitara doesn’t look like a pumped-up family hatchback on stilts. Instead, it has a bit more of that old-school off-roader appeal, but like a fancy hiking boot with a memory foam inner, it still has the latest tech beneath the surface to satisfy the modern buyer.
Things are sporty at the front, where some chrome trims inject a little life into the Suzuki’s angular headlights and a pair of upturned fog light surrounds make it look like it’s wearing a comedy moustache disguise.
These fun little details continue inside, too. There are splashes of silver on the air vents and steering wheel, alongside a few slabs of shiny metal effect plastic on the dashboard and doors. Sadly, while it might look cool, the Suzuki’s numerous hard plastics and brittle trims feel more like they belong propping up an Ikea bookshelf than taking pride of place in a funky SUV’s cabin.
It’s a similar story with the Suzuki Vitara’s 7-inch infotainment system, which looks more Fisher-Price than iPhone but at least that means it’s a doddle to use. It gets all the smartphone mirroring features you’ll need to use a bunch of apps safely while you’re driving, too.
It’s equally easy to pack the Suzuki Vitara with plenty of passengers – and their luggage. There’s more space in the back than you get in a Peugeot 2008 and Honda HR-V and the boot’s plenty big enough for a huge weekly shop or a family’s luggage for a week or so away.
Don’t think Suzuki’s forgotten about front-seat space, though. Every Vitara comes with height-adjustment so you can tower over traffic even if you’re rather short. Its big windows give you a great view out, too.
Pick the Vitara if you want an enjoyable small SUV that can actually go off road
All this makes it very easy to drive around town. The standard manual gearbox is easy to use and the steering’s nice and light which helps make squeezing into tight parking spaces and dodging through traffic pretty much stress-free.
That being said, it’s not quite as comfortable or as quiet as a Honda HR-V or Peugeot 2008. The single 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine option is pretty smooth and feels perky, but it’ll be a little thirsty on long motorway drives, even with its mild-hybrid technology. Even more so if you go for all-wheel drive.
The Suzuki’s party-piece is how surprisingly good fun it is to drive – for a tall SUV, at least. It barely leans in tight corners and has masses of grip which gives you the confidence to drive it like a hot hatch on your favourite stretch of winding country road – if that’s your sort of thing.
This doesn’t quite make up for the Vitara’s rather cheap-feeling cabin, but at least it helps it stand out from the crowd of more expensive and pretty dull-to-drive SUVs. On the subject of price, see how much you can save on our Suzuki Vitara deals page.
The Suzuki Vitara will cater for most small families when it comes to space, but if you need seven seats you’ll need to look elsewhere.
The Suzuki Vitara is the same as its main rivals in that it has only five seats, but there’s plenty of space around those seats.
If you have a growing family, a Vitara should be higher on your shopping list than a Honda HR-V or Peugeot 2008, simply because it has more rear-seat space than either of those cars.
Up front, there’s plenty of leg- and headroom, and the range of adjustment should mean that anyone can get comfortable.
Parking is also easy, because the large windows make for a great view out.
The Suzuki Vitara isn’t exactly overburdened with storage space, but nevertheless there’s a decent-sized cubby in front of the gearlever for you to store your phone, loose change, or anything else that’s annoyingly rattly. You can also put more stuff in the cubby between the front seats.
The door bins are a decent size, and can easily take a large bottle of water.
There’s decent space for a family’s clobber, because the Vitara has 375 litres of space with the rear seats raised, which is easily enough for the proceeds of a weekly shopping trip or a week’s holiday luggage.
The Suzuki Vitara is mostly good to drive and comes with the option of all-wheel drive, but you only get one engine option and there are quieter small SUVs on the motorway.
There’s just the one engine available in the Vitara, a four-cylinder 1.4-litre mild hybrid that develops a grand total of 129hp.
This drives either the front wheels or all four wheels in the Allgrip version. The two-wheel-drive car can sprint to 62mph in 9.5 seconds, which is brisk, and it’ll carry on to a top speed of 118mph.
The two-wheel-drive model can manage an average of 49.7mpg, while the four-wheel-drive car is only just behind, on 45.4mpg. However, while the 2WD car emits 128g/km of CO2, the 4WD car emits 140g/km, which has ramifications for the Vitara as a company car.
Whichever combination you choose, the engine is smooth but does get a little noisy when you ask a lot of it sprinting down motorway slip roads or trying to overtake faster-moving traffic.
The Vitara’s steering is light, which is great for parking and the sort of ducking and diving that comes with in-town driving, although less confidence-inspiring when you’re faced with tricky corners on a country road a speed.
The Vitara is also on the noisy side on the motorway where wind and tyre noise intrude, certainly when compared with the Honda HR-V or Peugeot 2008.
The good news is that the Vitara hardly leans over at all on twisty roads, and it’s grippy. The four-wheel-drive model allows you to put your foot down out of corners without fear of the traction control being called into action. So, it’s not outright fun, but it is reassuring, which is exactly the way it should be with a small family SUV.
The Suzuki Vitara’s interior is solidly screwed together, but its infotainment system and interior quality aren’t at the same level as alternative efforts.