Suzuki Vitara: A lot of car for the money – but this full hybrid just begs for some flair

Sometimes a car just eludes me. That was the case with the full hybrid compact crossover Suzuki Vitara. I had ridden it briefly when it was launched in Ireland but failed to do a full road test as promised. Excuse me. I am now making good on that promise.

Since it’s the beginning of the year, alerting you to the good and bad of the Vitara might not be a bad thing.

From my point of view then and now, the car needed two core elements to get on your shopping list radar. Keep in mind that the list of alternative cars is brimming and the contenders are pulling out all the stops in terms of powertrains, design, price and performance.

These competitors include the Renault Captur, the Hyundai Kona and of course the Dacia Duster.

Yes, the name Vitara stands for reliability and finely tuned technology. But that’s not necessarily enough these days.

The first must was to overhaul a stale interior. This was partially fixed a while ago, but it needs another barrage of upstyling. It looks a little better, but that’s low praise.

My passenger recently said on the way back from the airport that he looked “tired”. He was right. It’s still a little outdated, and isn’t helped by the small 7-inch infotainment flat-screen and its old graphics.

Materials (plastics) on the dashboard and around the lower areas of the cabin are not exactly endearing.

However, some rivals could learn a lesson in making tactile buttons (on the steering wheel in this case) work so well.

The second major input needed was some serious “electrification” for today. It now has a full hybrid – as opposed to a negligibly relevant mild hybrid that preceded it.

The full hybrid features a new 1.5-litre petrol engine and a 33hp electric motor powered by a 0.84kWh battery. And it uses a 6-speed automatic transmission. So that’s the background against which I’ll sort out some of the more critical little things.

It is not visually noticeable, although it is quite high. Due to its height, it was somewhat vulnerable to crosswinds on the M50. But I was glad of the height for the excellent view I had from my driver’s seat.

Not many cars offer that much latitude to adjust the height and reach of the steering wheel.

That and a decent adjustment of the seat gave me a perfect viewing angle. It also helped with parking.

Whatever the decor, there was plenty of cabin space, fore and aft, and there was adequate trunk space (removable double height). Even with a large sunroof, headroom in the rear was not noticeably restricted.

The hybrid system isn’t the most powerful of its kind because the battery is so modest.

But the small gauge on the info screen showed that my car had only done moderate electric driving, especially when I took my foot off the accelerator. Nothing fancy, but central to the whole idea of ​​saving fuel.

I think I’ve come to 6.3 liters / km. The combined official number is 5.9 – not bad at all. The engine responded well when pushed but was a bit on the hard side at times.

As said, the new hybrid version uses a 6-speed automatic gearbox. It was fine in its own way, but I did notice that it was a bit clunky when shifting up gears, especially in 2nd and 3rd gear. It’s an area that could certainly be improved.

Given the wintry season, you might be interested in the AllGrip system, which gives the blessings of four-wheel drive without the need to add mechanical weight.

It’s a simple but extremely effective concept.

It works by quickly applying the brake to the slipping wheel while concentrating drive power on the opposite wheel, and using traction control to limit the loss of engine traction.

It’s been a while, but it was great to know again. The first time I used the system was at Peugeot a long time ago. I think it’s worth having if you can; For a few euros more you get a lot of grip and stability.

Finally, what the Vitara leaves behind in looks, dynamics and dated dashboard it largely makes up for with a high level of equipment at a decent price.

For example, my test car had adaptive cruise control.

The only thing you can say about this Vitara – and indeed most Suzukis – is how well they’re engineered (more so since some, like the Swace station wagon, are rebranded Toyotas).

All in all, this eluded me car is a bit of a mixed bag.

There are many cars there; it just calls for a bit of flair and modernity to lift it up.

fact file

Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, 1.5 liter, 115 hp, petrol, 132 g/km, road tax €210. From €33,140. AllGrip 4-wheel drive system; Hill Hold Control. ISOFIX child seat anchorages, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking camera, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, power windows, keyless entry, paddle shifters, automatic air conditioning/headlights, folding door mirrors, panoramic sunroof, double-height removable luggage compartment floor, DAB digital radio, navigation system, 17-inch -Aluminium rims, wheel arch extensions, roof rails Suzuki Vitara: A lot of car for the money – but this full hybrid just begs for some flair

Fry Electronics Team

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