Second self-shifting Vitara joins Suzuki line-up in South Africa. Picture: Suzuki

Johannesburg - As SUV's of various sizes replace sedans and station wagons as the transport of choice for active South African families, pressure is increasing on car companies to offer more model choices with automatic transmissions.

And the latest manufacturer to come to the slushbox party is Suzuki, with a second self-shifting derivative joining its compact Vitara line-up. The new model is based on the mid-spec, front-wheel drive Vitara GL+, but with the same six-speed auto 'box as the top-of-the-range GLX.

It's a conventional torque-converter transmission, with shift paddles on the steering wheel for the 'manual' option. The rest of the running gear is standard Vitara issue, from the 1586cc multipoint fuel-injected petrol four (86kW at 6600rpm, 151Nm at 4400) to the all-independent MacPherson strut front and torsion bar rear suspension, running on 16 inch alloys and 215/60 radials.

The rest of the GLS+ trim spec is all there, including fabric trim with contrast stitching, trip computer, tilt and reach-adjustable steering wheel with multifunction controls for the audio system, cruise control and hands-free telephony, automatic aircon, a four-speaker radio/CD/MP3/WMA player, and electric side windows and mirror adjustment.

Bells and whistles

You can also opt for a two-tone finish with contrasting roof, as well as Urban Pack and Rugged Pack options with different combinations of exterior trim, and the full range of approved accessories.

None of which, however, are included in the R313 900 base price; which does include a three-year or 100 000km warranty, a four-year or 60 000km service plan and three-years' roadside assistance.

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