Johannesburg - It’s safe to say that this new SUV entrant snuck below the radar this week.

While the South African launch of the new Suzuki Swift Sport ignited a great deal of excitement in car circles, the company also introduced an interesting new SUV option, powered by the same 1.4-litre direct injection turbopetrol engine.

Heeding to the call for a more powerful engine option in the compact SUV range is the new Vitara Turbo. While it matches its hatch sibling's power output of 103kW at 5500rpm, it does have slightly less torque - 220Nm, which is 10Nm less, but it does produce that twist a good 1000 revolutions lower, at 1500rpm. It is of course, quite a bit perkier than the normally aspirated 1.6-litre Vitara engine, which produces 86kW and 156Nm, and that’s notwithstanding the force-fed engine’s altitude advantage.

While performance is not quite in the same league as the Swift Sport, owing to the Vitara’s bigger body, it is still very decent by class standards and during an acceleration and braking activity on the launch, we were able to get the Vitara Turbo from 0-100km/h in the nearly nine-second bracket.

I also drove it briefly en route to sample the Swift at Redstar Raceway and I was impressed with its power delivery and effortless performance.

While the Vitara Turbo can be ordered with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox, there is no all-wheel-drive option here like there is in the 1.6 models, something Suzuki puts down to pricing pressures - after all, it can’t be a cheap engine to produce.

The rest of the spec sheet is largely as per the regular 1.6 GLX model, except there’s no sunroof in the Vitara Turbo equation - again, costing pressures. But Turbo buyers still get plenty of kit, including Suzuki’s 17.8cm touchscreen infotainment system with CarPlay and Android Auto, reverse camera, automatic climate control, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel, auto lights and wipers, LED headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels. Safety kit includes seven airbags and ESP stability control with traction control.

Suzuki Vitara pricing:

1.6 GL 5-speed manual R287 900
1.6 GL+ 5-speed manual R325 900
1.6 GL+ 6-speed auto R345 900
1.6 GLX AWD 5-speed manual R383 900
1.6 GLX 6-speed auto R373 900
1.4 Turbo GLX 6-speed manual R378 900
1.4 Turbo GLX 6-speed auto R397 900

Prices include a four-year/60 000km service plan and five-year/200 000km promotional warranty.

IOL Motoring