Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

These Suzuki Vitara delights have surprising ends

ON THE ROAD

A cheesy greeting card once said that the key to a happy life is working out what’s important to you. It just so happens that approach will help you decide whether you like the Suzuki Vitara.

The sub-compact crossover SUV has endeared itself more and more to South Africans in recent years. A few snips here, a couple of tweaks there and it has solidified itself as a practical, economical option for anyone in the market for a family car. Now, with the introduction of a new 1.4 Turbo a few months ago, it has a far loftier ambition: ensuring your driving pleasure. 

Hence, the Vitara Turbo’s tagline “Drive the Fun”. But as corny as that sounds, the surprise comes when you realise that it’s not wrong at all (except grammatically, of course).

This is simply a fun car to drive. From the first pull-off it glides towards your desired cruising speed with little effort; the exceptionally smooth six-speed manual gearbox plays its part perfectly. 

It’s not explosive but that’s not something we ever needed here. Rather, it offers steady, quick acceleration off the line and in lane changes.

It handles remarkably well, too. Cornering is responsive and at times the nimble Vitara feels far smaller than it actually is. 

There’s something raw about the experience, offering a drive that feels uninhibited by any well-meaning but obtrusive technology. All the while the Suzuki holds close to the very good fuel economy of 5.8 litres per 100km.

Admittedly, we did have the benefit of open lockdown roads to test it on. Should the Vitara be constrained to day-to-day Jo’burg traffic the drive may likely feel a little less thrilling if you’re not on the highway.

This new engine does come at a cost. A literal one. The ​1.4 Turbo GLX 6MT comes in at R396 900 — almost R100 000 more than the cheapest Vitara model. It also pushes it above the baser options of many of its competitors, including the Opel Crossland X and Volkswagen T-Cross.

And it certainly doesn’t have the finishings of those Germans. The cabin is packed with cheap plastic that is not pretty to look at. The styling is awkward and uninspired while the centre of the dashboard has an odd Maybachesque clock that you will probably never use. 

Fortunately for the Vitara, it’s full value lies everywhere else. The infotainment setup, for instance, is robust and intuitive for this price range and comes with all the necessary Apple AirPlay/Android Auto capabilities you would hope for. More importantly, it fulfills its primary purpose for existence: being a family car. The boot is wide and will be able to fit a pram or anything else you may need to ferry on a daily basis, while space in the back seats is slightly above average for this segment.

Picking up the 1.4 Turbo will additionally provide just about all notable features as standard. These include keyless entry with push start, automatic LED headlamps and windscreen wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels, park distance sensors, cruise control and suede upholstery. On all models in the range you also get a four-year 60 000km service plan on top of a five-year 200 000km warranty.

Is that value for money? Again, that all depends on your priorities. If you’re the type hoping to impress the lads at the country clubhouse with interior luxury then you should probably look elsewhere. For those for whom practicality and driving experience are king, it doesn’t get much better than this. 

Price: R396 900

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and receive a 40% discount on our annual rate..

Luke Feltham

Luke Feltham runs the Mail & Guardian's sports desk. He was previously the online day editor.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

NW Premier Mokgoro ‘meddles’ in contentious R1.5m HOD appointment

Provincial HOD hired despite implication in ‘jobs-for-pals’ probe involving former minister Faith Muthambi

Wild garlic harvesters back in court

Healers say the plant is part of their heritage, but officials counter that it is a protected species

More top stories

ANC resolute over its step-aside decision: Duarte

The governing party has identified 40 members charged with serious crimes who will have to step aside

New Covid-19 variant in South Africa ‘of concern at a...

The Covid-19 B.1.617 variant, first detected in India, is now listed as one of concern, but the World Health Organisation says it does not doubt the efficacy of global vaccines

Your guide to side effects: What you can expect after...

Soon, South Africa will start with its mass vaccine roll-out. We take a look at what to expect when you get vaccinated.

Travel ban could return after more Covid-19 variants are found...

The government is to decide whether travel restrictions will be implemented after variants originally from India and the UK were detected in South Africa.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×