JOHANNESBURG - Much of the hype surrounding Suzuki’s introduction of its first turbo engine in South Africa has been focused around the new Swift Sport, but those that have moved into the SUV phase of life will be pleased to know that the exact same engine has also just given the family-friendly Vitara a welcome boost.
Until now Suzuki’s 1.6-litre normally aspirated petrol engine, with 86kW and 156Nm, has been the only option in the range, but now buyers can opt for a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 103kW available at 5500rpm, and 220Nm from 1500 revs. You can only have it in front-wheel-drive format, probably because Suzuki wanted to keep the price below R400 000, but you can choose between six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmission, while those insisting on AWD can still have it in the range-topping 1.6-litre model, which sells in the same price range as the new 1.4T.
We recently spent a week with the Vitara Turbo GLX manual derivative, which costs R380 900, which is exactly R19 000 less than the auto model.
Given the bigger body, performance obviously isn’t as exciting as it is in the Swift Sport, but we never wished for more power in this compact SUV. Effortless is the word that comes to mind here, thanks to the engine’s linear power delivery and acceleration feels brisk through the gears. This car also cruises happily on the highway, and overtaking on back roads is relatively effortless too. This is the engine that the Vitara always deserved.
This Vitara’s suspension is a touch on the firm side, so the ride isn’t the cushiest in this class but it’s still acceptably comfortable, while the upside to that set-up is that this vehicle is fairly agile for an SUV.