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By Tim Barnes-Clay Motoring Journalist – tweeting @carwriteups
It is hard to believe the Suzuki Vitara has been around since 1988. That makes me feel ancient because that’s the year I passed my driving test.

Nearly three decades have gone by; I’m not 17 anymore and the Vitara heritage has progressed. Now the sports utility vehicle (SUV) has compact dimensions to meet present-day needs and some models incorporate Suzuki’s leading-edge ALLGRIP four wheel drive system.

Unquestionably, one key thing has changed since 1988 – and that’s the automotive industry’s preoccupation with fuel efficiency and clean engines. The new Vitara certainly promises both, due to weight-saving measures and technology. A good example is the 1.6 SZ5 ALLGRIP model with four-wheel drive and five-speed manual transmission. It has CO2 emissions of 130g/km and does 50.4mpg. Not bad for a petrol-powered 4×4.peugeot-308-cabin

But what about aesthetics? Well, the new car has a strong looking design. The clamshell bonnet gives the front end a look of solidity, and a trapezoid motif front bumper indicates a commanding grip on the ground. Prominent body character lines and bonnet side louvres form motifs reminiscent of the first generation Vitara.

Furthermore, Suzuki’s pursuit of good aerodynamics is reflected in optimally designed bumper openings. It also shows in the roof line that slopes slickly downward towards the rear. Additionally, LED headlamps contribute to energy saving, while creating a cool impression.

Step inside, and a confidently shaped instrument panel indicates SUV toughness while the round clock and spherical ventilation louvres help give the cabin a lively, sporty look.
Powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine, the Vitara, on test here, offers a smooth on road drive combined with real off road capability. 0-62mph arrives in 12.0 seconds and the top end is 112mph. The gearbox is noticeably smooth and moving up and down the cogs is effortless, thanks to a shift lever counterweight. For those who don’t like left-foot action, there is a six-speed automatic available, too.

Of course, Suzuki is renowned for its four wheel drive technologies and the previously mentioned ALLGRIP system, which debuted on the S-CROSS, impresses. It has four modes, auto; sport; snow and lock, for safe, enjoyable motoring on assorted surfaces and has earned a justifiably good reputation.

Testing the car off-road in mud, sand and general dirt, I discovered the ALLGRIP tech sends more torque to the rear wheels if it detects wheel spin at the front. New ‘feed forward’ gadgetry provides additional ability to foresee front wheel spin risks, accelerator pedal position, and steering angle. It then sends more torque to the rear wheels before wheel spin occurs.

On the whole, the all-new Suzuki Vitara is impressive – and far more refined than its forerunner. Some interior plastics still feel rudimentary and scratchy, but the principal touch points are nicely padded.

Priced from only £13,999 for the basic 1.6 SZ4 variant, the Vitara represents good value for money. This particular 1.6 SZ5 ALLGRIP test car model will set you back £20,299.

PROS ‘N’ CONS

Smart

Reasonably Priced

Traction

Cabin plastics

FAST FACTS

Max speed: 112 mph
0-62 mph: 12.0 secs
Combined mpg: 50.4
Engine: 1586 cc 16 valve 4 cylinder petrol
Max. power (bhp): 118
Max. torque (lb/ft): 115
CO2: 130 g/km
Price: £20,299

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