2019 Suzuki Vitara SZ-T 1.0 petrol turbo from UK and Ireland
Not so cheap now, but definitely cheerful!
Well, I see the previous reviewer didn't like it, but that was a 1.6; this is a 1.0 turbo. I had the 1.6 in an SX4 and it was definitely less refined than this one. Otherwise, it's a relatively cheap, lightweight car - you can't expect the Earth!
Performance: Goes very well, in fact there's great pickup even as an auto. Where it really scores is when you're doing 60-65 on the slab and need to punch it up to 75-80 for a quick overtake. It does this quickly and quietly without needing full throttle - much better than my 2 CRV's, which revved noisily but didn't go much quicker!
It spends most of its time below 2,000 RPM, but the turbo fires up from 1,800 RPM, so there's power when you need it. For a 1 litre 3-cylinder, it's quite a revelation.
The economy shows as 46 MPG on the dash display. I haven't calculated it manually, but as the tank's well over 2 gallons smaller than the CRV and yet the car has a greater range, I'd say 46 MPG is probably about right. This is my 6th Suzuki and I've always found them pretty close to the official figures - unusual these days.
Ride / handling: Not being a motoring journo and cornering on my door handles, I have no complaints as to the handling. It feels light and responsive on the road, and goes where you point it. I have no other requirements!
Suspension is quiet, well-damped and - although not magic carpet - soft enough. There is road noise on rougher road surfaces, but this is common to many modern cars. It's fine on your average A-road.
Comfort: We find the seats very comfortable, and both adjust for height on this mid-range model. The bases are a little narrow between the bolsters, it has to be said (anyone with a fat ass need not apply!) but if you're normal size you can do a 200 mile trip without discomfort. The bases are longer than they were in the CRV, which means you get good support under the thighs.
The steering wheel is good to hold and adjusts adequately. It's also light around town. All-in-all, a good driving position. The dash-top is padded on this newer model (FWIW), and it has a usable armrest that could do with a bit more padding. Door tops aren't padded, but I can't say it's made any difference to the overall experience.
Space: It's quite a wide car even if it isn't long, so feels quite spacey inside. Obviously it isn't as big as the CRV, but it honestly doesn't feel much smaller. Boot space is par for the car size; adequate is probably the best word. Luggage for a week away is no problem.
Equipment: Although this model doesn't have the auto lights and wipers of the CRV, I wasn't concerned as both have severe limitations. IE: Lights don't turn on in fog (when they're a legal requirement) and auto wipers still need adjustment on the move, I found. The Vitara does have sat nav, height-adjustable passenger seat, better seats generally, dash displays much easier to understand and operate. Really, there's everything you need. The only thing I would've liked (available on the SZ5) is power mirrors, but every car is a compromise - and this is one.
Having tested several similar cars with heating systems where all the air comes out of all vents at the same temp, it's good to see Suzuki have stuck with bi-level heating. So, set the climate control to whatever temp you want, and when the footwells reach it, the face vents will start to blow cooler air. Some may think this facility trivial, but to me it's essential. My CRV had the same, but similar cars from Vauxhall, Skoda and Nissan didn't.
Problems: None, except for a minor rattle from the dash. I discovered this was the instrument surround (at the bottom) rattling. There's a pad glued under it, to stop this, but on mine this pad was misplaced, allowing light plastic-to-plastic contact. A fresh correctly-placed pad of self-adhesive velcro cured it in a few minutes.
Annoyances: Only the Bluetooth phone system, on which the volume resets to minimum every time you call/answer. So someone rings, you answer and can't hear them until you crank the volume on the steering wheel rocker! This might be curable via the menus, but I haven't found out how. Not a huge problem, but definitely annoying!
Customer Services and the supplying dealer have to be mentioned as well. Neither seems to have a Scooby-Doo about the car; completely unable to advise on anything related to the sat nav or sound system / touchscreen. I was advised that - contrary to other Suzuki info - you can't update the sat nav SD card on a PC. You have to buy a new card! At only about £30, I suppose that's not bad, but different to the manual.
Conclusion: Although it's not as cheap as it used to be, but is definitely built cheaply, I'm very pleased with this comfortable, quiet, economical car. I'm well out of the honeymoon period now and I still enjoy driving it. I see no reason why I won't keep it for 3 years at least.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 31st August, 2019
31st Aug 2019, 17:34
Well written review. Glad you are happy with the car. I had a Vitara - way back in the early 1990s. I liked it despite the cheap and nasty feel to it, but it was a reliable enough little run about. Suzuki like a lot of manufacturers have come a long way in improving driveability of these vehicles.
1st Sep 2019, 03:16
Nice in-depth review.