Let’s get acquainted with the popular Suzuki Vitara SUV using the example of its most recent Hybrid version. What did it bring, besides adding a buzzword to the name of the model? And in general: what is the Suzuki Vitara, what are the versions of the car, and how much do they cost? So…

Design: youthful, fit, updated

If I say the phrase “Suzuki Vitara”, who will remember what? Did anyone remember the body-on-frame SUV with a V6 engine and a downshift? Forget: since 2015, the Suzuki Vitara is a compact SUV with a supporting body and small engines.

It seems like 2015 is so far away. But the Suzuki Vitara SUV did not stop its development. After the debut of the main Suzuki Vitara model, its S-version was released with a powerful turbo engine and red accents. Later, in 2019, an updated model entered the Ukrainian market: the radiator grille and front bumper were changed, the lights received a different filling, a new front panel and instruments appeared, and many modern safety systems were added. Finally, the latest news is the appearance of a hybrid version of the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, which is distinguished by original headlights with a blue horizontal stripe and a logo on the trunk lid.

Crossover Suzuki Vitara has evolved since 2015 – it received new versions, and underwent planned updates. However, it has always been compact: length 4.175 meters, width 1.775 meters, height 1.61 meters, wheelbase 2.5 meters. The most recent incarnation of the car is the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid version, which can be recognized by the headlights and logo.

It is interesting that with the update in 2019, the interior of the car almost did not change in shape – but changed in terms of materials: from now on, the front panel has become soft and pleasant to the touch. There are also new instruments with nice speedometer/tachometer scales and a color display between them. At the same time, the traditional “climate” unit with physical controls, multimedia system, and round holes above it remained unchanged.

In general, all this creates a pleasant impression of the interior of the Suzuki Vitara. Not very spacious, though. Yes, there is still enough space in front, although the seats are quite small – sometimes you want to increase the length of the pillow. In the back, there is not much leg space, and the back of the rear sofa is also quite vertical. But there is a good amount of headroom. And there is also a good trunk: a volume of 375 liters, a two-level floor, and side niches.

The front panel is made of soft material – this is a plus, but it borders on rigid cards of doors that bend – this is a minus. Devices and multimedia systems have nice graphics and quite classic designs. And in general: there are many traditional physical switches, selectors, and controls inside. The interior space is on the verge of “sufficient”, there is a good margin only in height, and there is also a good trunk.

Equipment: hybrid, turbo, four-wheel drive

The object of the article is the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid car, so let’s start with the hybrid component. In this case, the system is called SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki): it consists of an integrated starter generator ISG and a lithium-ion battery with an operating voltage of 48 volts. In fact, we have a “soft hybrid” that can store excess energy during braking and help the engine during acceleration in the first seconds of the start of the movement.

By the way, about the engine. As the basis of the hybrid system, a gasoline 1.4-liter 4-cylinder BoosterJet K14D engine was used, which combined a turbine and direct fuel injection. The total results of the hybrid power plant are 129 hp. and 235 Nm of torque. It is interesting that the K14C engine first appeared in the BoosterJet line and it produces even more power (140 hp) without any hybrid applications but is inferior in terms of torque (220 Nm) – this is such an interesting observation about the influence of the SHVS hybrid.

Finally, a few words about the design of the Suzuki Vitara car in general. The SUV has a supporting body and provides transverse installation of 4-cylinder engines, with available 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The front suspension is made according to the McPherson scheme, the rear suspension is made on the basis of a transverse torsion beam. That is, there is nothing revolutionary or unusual here. Except for the choice of front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, which is quite unusual for this class, where cars (even crossovers) are usually only front-wheel drive.

The hybrid is built on the basis of a 1.4-liter gasoline engine and a powerful (10 kW) starter generator. The latter accumulates (braking) or receives (acceleration) energy from a small lithium-ion battery. The car does not offer any switches, buttons, selectors to control the operation of the hybrid: here you cannot choose only an electric drive or force the system to pre-charge the battery. Although it is possible to observe the operation of the hybrid system on the display in the combination of the instrument panel.

Behind the wheel: lively character and quick understanding

Every time I came across the Suzuki Vitara car in any of its variations, and the general impression was always similar – a pleasant lively character and quick understanding. And the test Suzuki Vitara Hybrid SUV is no exception. It all starts with a start from a standstill and acceleration, which surprise not so much with their power as with the logic and linearity of the control. There are no engine pauses when pressing the accelerator pedal, but there is a pleasant constant acceleration. Admittedly, similar claims apply to any variant of the Suzuki Vitara with that excellent 1.4-liter turbo engine, be it regular or hybrid.

So maybe a hybrid allows you to save fuel? Moreover, for the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid car, the declared level of environmental friendliness is “Euro-6” and fuel consumption in the city is 6.2-6.5 liters per 100 km (for the all-wheel drive version). Frankly speaking, I did not manage to reach 6.5 liters, but it is quite possible to drive with a fuel consumption level of 7-7.5 liters per hundred km around the city. Interesting observations from experience: this same Suzuki Vitara Hybrid SUV took 0.5-1 l more fuel in winter – this is about the influence of winter tires (not weak, I am surprised). And another interesting observation: comparing the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid with the Suzuki Vitara S version, where this 1.4-liter turbo engine first appeared, the car became more economical – by about one liter. But the level of fuel consumption on the track has little effect: at speeds in the range of 90-100-120 km/h consumption will be 5-6 liters – this is the usual level for cars of this class.

As for driving and suspension comfort, everything is also plus or minus the same for different versions of the Suzuki Vitara – and the Hybrid version is no exception. Normal reactions to the turn of a rather light steering wheel, sometimes in a sharp turn there is a desire to “take a nose dive” to the outer radius, and almost always there is a desire for noticeable rolls of a high body. Average hardness (or softness – choose for yourself, because it is “something average”) of the suspension: it does not push on bumps, but it does not bounce like a feather. In general, the character of the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid does not provoke sharp maneuvers, but it is easy and pleasant to drive on daily trips. In many respects, it is due to the understanding of the car that arises almost immediately.

The turbo engine with hybrid and the 6-speed automatic transmission understand each other perfectly. For example, you will almost not notice the switches – if, of course, you immediately get into the “D” position: the linear movement of the lever sometimes ends in the “M” position (manual gear selection). Here’s what you can choose manually – these are driving modes: they affect the switching of the automatic transmission (for example, in the “sport” mode, it will use lower gears more often and take its time to shift up) and the operation of the four-wheel drive ALL GRIP (usually, the rear wheel drive clutch is clamped). By the way, thanks to versions with all-wheel drive and a ground clearance of 185 mm, the Suzuki Vitara SUV can drive off the asphalt. And one more “by the way”: acceleration from 0-100 km/h according to my own measurements takes 9.6-9.9 seconds against the claimed 10.2 seconds. A similar “passport” indicator for the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid with front-wheel drive is declared at 9.5 seconds, and to complete with numbers: the declared maximum speed is 190 km/h. (for versions with front/four-wheel drive).

Cost: how much does the Suzuki Vitara cost in different configurations

Above, I constantly talked about the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, but the model range also includes many other versions: two engines, front or all-wheel drive, and various configurations.

Suzuki Vitara GL starts with a naturally aspirated engine 1.6 l (117 hp), front-wheel drive, manual or automatic transmission, ESP system, air conditioning, multimedia system with color display, rearview camera, heated front seats, etc. The price of the Suzuki Vitara GL is UAH 724-781 thousand depending on the type of transmission (MT /JSC) or $19-21 thousand.

At the next level is the Suzuki Vitara GL+ version with a similar 1.6-liter engine and only an automatic transmission, but you can choose a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. In addition, here we have an improved configuration: added “climate”, 16-inch light-alloy wheels, chrome details on the outside and in the cabin, cruise control, tinted windows, etc. The price of the Suzuki Vitara GL car is 872-933 thousand UAH, depending on the type of drive ( front/full) or $23-25 thousand.

Finally, the maximum option is the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid 1.4 SHVS, which is offered in two variants – the GL+ configuration and front-wheel drive or the GLX configuration and all-wheel drive. It is interesting that in the case of a hybrid, the GL+ configuration is further expanded: adaptive “cruise”, keyless access, monitoring of “blind spots” mirrors, traffic lane control, automatic braking system, FULL-LED LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels. And the GLX configuration also adds a panoramic glass sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, combined interior decoration (artificial leather and suede), etc. The price of the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid GL+ with front-wheel drive is 989 thousand UAH or $26,000, and the price of the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid GLX with four-wheel drive is UAH 1.156 million or $30 thousand.

Here is the crossover Suzuki Vitara GL+ with a 1.6-liter engine, automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. In general, the design does not differ, however, there are conventional headlights, 16-inch wheels, and fabric on the seats. If the car has front-wheel drive, then there is no switch behind the gearbox lever – accordingly, there is a small niche for small things.

Who are the competitors of the Suzuki Vitara? If we talk about all-wheel drive versions, there are a few competitors: among the most famous cars, we can mention Suzuki S-Cross and Renault Duster. However, these are options “about practicality”, while the Suzuki Vitara is an option “about brightness”. Do you need a bright, interesting car with modern technologies? Then you can think of Peugeot 2008 or Volkswagen T-Roc: both offer front-wheel drive only and are larger in size. Instead, the Suzuki Vitara SUV may be smaller, but for the same money, it can offer a better configuration, all-wheel drive, or all together.

Results of the Suzuki Vitara Hybrid test drive

Here’s how interesting it turns out – in the Ukrainian Suzuki line, the Vitara model is responsible for the youth style and acts as a “showcase” of the company’s modern technologies. For example, the new Suzuki S-Cross (I’ll tell you in the future) is nominally more modern and not inferior in status, but it cannot offer the equipment and technologies that are present in the Suzuki Vitara model. Among other things, it also refers to the appearance of a hybrid.

And let’s be honest, the SHVS hybrid system is not revolutionary, but it will do its job. Some buyers will be interested in even a small, but nevertheless improvement in fuel economy. Others will simply choose a car for the beautiful inscription “Hybrid” on the trunk lid – as a confirmation of their “eco” lifestyle. But eventually, Suzuki dealers will get extra attention for the Suzuki Vitara model – which, of course, will once again help support its good sales.

Car provided by AVTO International