Suzuki Vitara 1.4 2WD - Standard Review
Sweet Suzy

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
15 Sep 2020
 

Perhaps a little late in the game, the car available now is equipped with a turbocharged 1.4 litre engine.

While most mainstream brands have been busy with showing off their shiny new EV or Hybrid, Suzuki on the other hand, has been quietly producing some very interesting cars, like their Swift and off-road capable Jimny.

Strangely, what used to be one of their best sellers, had for a while fallen by the wayside. The Vitara began life as a serious off-roader with some road manners… sort-of a one-step higher than th SJ series vehicle, and it was quite the hit in the 90s. There was even a time, where it even received power through a fat 2.7 litre V6, and it seemed that their trusty compact SUV would grow with each generation.

Suzuki made a call to soften up the Vitara in recent years, adding to it some proper road manners. in its latest form, they seemed to have “rightsized” the car. In Singapore, the current Vitara began life as a natural-breathing 1.6 litre, in a time where manufacturers were starting to opt for force-fed engines.

Perhaps a little late in the game, the car available now is equipped with a turbocharged 1.4 litre engine.

Suzuki has also spruced the exterior of the car with a little chrome trim, and the 2-tone paint treatment helps to break its shape for a lower visual profile.

Inside

The layout of the dash is simple with just a simple scatter of buttons. There is though, no escaping of how cheap it and the door cards feel. 

We also do not get the neat integrated infotainment unit shown in the glossy brochure, and have to make do instead with a Clarion 2-DIN head unit, which is not too bad.

Material cheapness aside, interior space is easily sufficient and comfortable for four adults. Rear passengers also get additional foot space, thanks to the gap below the front seats. Cargo space is decent at 375 litres, though smaller than the similarly-priced all-new Kia Seltos’ 433 litres. The 60:40 rear seats fold flat for additional cargo carrying capability, and the boot board does drop a level lower for added flexibility.

The Drive

The turbocharged 1.4 Boosterjet engine found in the Vitara is sourced from the Swift Sport (which Champion Motors, Suzuki’s dealership here hasn’t brought in, likely due to very tight pricing). Power is rated at 138hp, while maximum torque of 220Nm is experienced from 1,500rpm. Delivery of its drive is very smooth, with non-jarring pauses between shifts from its 6-speed automatic.

There is some numbness from its steering, but other than that, the Vitara delivers responsiveness and decently accurate turn-in. There is a little bit of body roll, which is expected given its height, but it is predictable and easily managed. As the Vitara is designed for a comfortable drive, there is a little bit of play in the suspension, which is a good thing.

While it delivers its 100km/h sprint in a humble 9.5 seconds, we like that the compact SUV has that any gear drivability, thanks to its large band of torque. Combined fuel consumption figures is a lab-tested 16.9km/l, we managed about 14km/l, with a little start-stop traffic.

Safety-wise, the Vitara is equipped with 7 airbags, inclusive of a driver’s knee airbag, and Electronic Stability Program (ESP) driver safety net. Convenience features like basic Cruise Control, Hill Hold, and auto-dimming rearview mirror are common equipment in most similar class cars today.

Our Thoughts

SUVs available here, like the Honda HR-V which are within the same price point, deliver decently on ride comfort, but ubiquitous thanks to fleet sales here; the SEAT Arona, with its excellent build quality and an entertaining drive, the 3-cylinder 1.0 which dishes out heaps of torque for its size, drones low rpm cruising; Mazda CX3, which is excellently-built and similar in-size to the Arona, is powered by a 2.0, which means higher tax. And then, there is the all-new KIA Seltos where the base variant comes similarly-priced, a worthy car to look at; are just some of the options in this saturated market segment.

While every option here has a strong and weak point, and the weak one for the Suzuki has, is in its cheap interior plastics. That turbocharged 1.4 however, is quite a well-developed engine, making the Vitara a very pleasant drive... therefore you can rock… and roll… all day long... in this Sweet Suzy (apologies for the movie reference).

In Summary

We Like

Pleasant drive. Very good engine and transmission combo. Flexible boot.

We Don't

I could name many better interiors from older cars in the same class. No integrated infotainment unit.

Verdict

The Suzuki Vitara is a well-designed compact SUV, decently equipped and satisfying to drive, thanks to that 1.4 litre turbocharged engine, and six-speed automatic. Unfortunately, the major letdown would be in its interior quality.

Car Loan Calculator - Suzuki Vitara 1.4 2WD -

SGD 169,900 (23 Jun 2022)

Based on OMV, this car is eligible for minimum 40% down payment

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