Suzuki Vitara 1.4t GLX

Turbo power makes a fine little SUV a brilliant one

We have always liked the Suzuki Vitara and we think for pretty good reason too. Think Vitara  and what comes to mind? A handsome and quite luxurious bargain go-anywhere family 4x4? Well, all that still applies, but only in part. Allow me to explain – this particular Vitara is no longer a 4x4 – it’s front-wheel driven, which you should be used to by now

The real clincher here is that Vitara now finally gains a modern downsized turbo engine — turbocharging is something the Japanese have taken some time to embrace, but it’s taken Suzuki even longer to achieve. No matter, that's all history now since Suzuki late last year slipped the new 103kW 220Nm Boosrerjet lump it shares with the new Swift Sport, under the chunky new Vitara bonnet too.

So what’s all the fuss about you ask? Well, the creamy lightweight variable timed twin-cam 16-valve direct petrol injection electric wastegate turbo four-banger takes over from the old normally aspirated86kW 156Nm 1.6 litre to not only cleave an entire second and a half off the old car’s 0-100 while getting to 400m 7km/h faster at 140km/h and basically annihilating the old one in the overtaking stakes in our road tests, but it still does all that at an identical 5.8 litres per hundred average and 136 g/km CO2 to the frugal old 1600.

Intriguingly, the new turbo only comes in front wheel drive at this point in time, but fear not – you can still have Vitara in 4x4 with the old sixteen-hundred atmo lump, but then over 90% of SUVs never see the dirt, let alone the 4x4 trail. So this car certainly has huge appeal to anyone looking for the space, conveniences and a bit of style, but now with the added bonus of great performance too.

Of course Vitara brings a 27-year reputation of rugged durability and this 1.4T GLX shows that off well with a bucket load of woke kit; the likes of smart 17” diamond cut alloy wheels, fog lamps, tinted privacy glass; a cool chrome grill grille, colour-coded door handles and a blackened roof, wing mirrors and fender trims. Vitara GLX is a get-the-job-done vehicle that fits its pedigree well to deliver a spacious and versatile can-do package fit for the family and all that brings.

And while Vitara always got on with it, it now does so in athletic style too — its punchy new turbo is now also matched to a six-speed manual box versus the old 5-hooker to accelerate to 100km/h in the late 8 second bracket with dramatically improved turbo elasticity and a quite sophisticated all-round drive. It’s actually most impressive on the road and unless you are taking it up Matroosberg, it’s pretty good on the dirt too.

We waited a while for Suzuki’s turbos to finally arrive, but it really has been worth the wait. The engine alone turns a fine little SUV to a damned brilliant one — especially at the price. Bravo, Suzuki, you now truly deliver the complete entry SUV package! – Michele Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Suzuki Vitara 1.4T GLX
Engine: 103kW 220Nm 1.4-litre turbo petrol I4                
Drive: 6-speed manual FWD
0-60km/h:                4.13 sec
0-100km/h:              8.82 sec                      
0-160km/h:              21.94 sec       
400m:                       16.2 sec @ 140km/h            
80-120km/h:            5.90 sec
120-160km/h:         10.12 sec          
VMax:                       200km/h                               
Fuel:                         5.8 l/100km                         
CO2:                         136 g/km
Warranty/Service:   3y 100K/4y 60Kkm 
LIST PRICE:               R386K           
RATED:                      8