Suzuki Vitara: Wrinkles are showing

Riley Riley

2022 Suzuki Vitara 8 1

What is it?

The Suzuki Vitara is a car crying out for an update.

The design of the five-seat wagon dates way back to 2015, although there has been a minor facelift since then.

The little car that could has been overtaken by cheaper and better equipped Chinese offerings from MG and Haval.

And significant price increases haven’t helped its quest for the buyer dollar. When we tested this car in 2019, the auto kicked off from $24,490 — it’s now $28,490. The turbo was $29,990 — now $33,490.

Suzuki risks pricing itself out of its own market segment.

2022 Suzuki Vitara 1

What’s it cost?

There’s three grades: Vitara, Vitara Turbo and Vitara Turbo Allgrip, priced from $26,490 or $30,490 driveaway.

Metallic paint is an extra $500 and two-tone with a different coloured roof is another $1250.

Vitara Turbo is $33,490 or $34,990 driveaway, while the all-wheel drive AllGrip — is priced from $37,490 or $39,990 driveaway.

The entry grade is powered by a 1.6-litre four cylinder petrol engine, while the turbo gets a punchier, 1.4-litre turbocharged unit that produces 20 percent more power and 40 percent more torque.

The latter figure is the more significant.

Our test vehicle was finished in Savannah Ivory with optional Cosmic Black Roof and comes with cloth trim, a leather-clad steering wheel and single zone climate control air.

Standard kit includes keyless entry and start, tilt and reach adjust steering wheel, 17-inch alloys, rear view camera, LED DRLs, halogen headlights, cruise control, manual lights and wipers.

Infotainment consists of a 7.0-inch touchscreen, with Bluetooth, built-in satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, AM/FM radio and four-speaker audio.

Missing is DAB+ digital radio.

Vitara has a five-star safety rating, seven airbags and a rear-view camera, but this rating dates back to 2015 which is really another era now.

It’s missing the latest advances in crash avoidance, such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert.

Vitara is covered by a 5-year, unlimited kilometre warranty with capped-price servicing for the first five years.

2022 Suzuki Vitara 7 1

What’s it go like?

Vitara is starting to show its age.

Although it sits in the budget buy category, the cabin and instrumentation looks and feels dated.

Rear legroom is okay thanks to scooped out seatbacks in front, but that’s not saying much. It’s still pretty tight and lacks air outlets, or really anything for back seat passengers.

Cargo capacity with the rear set in use is 375 litres, with a hidden area under the floor which in turn hides a space saver spare.

Performance isn’t too bad, but you will find yourself wishing you had paid the extra dosh for the turbocharged version the first time you encounter a big hill.

On the plus side fuel consumption is excellent.

Vitara is 4175mm long and in automatic form weighs in at 1180kg — 15kg more than the manual.

The 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine produces 86kW at 6000 revs and 156Nm of torque from 4400 revs and can be paired with either a five-speed manual or six-speed sequential automatic with paddle shifts — and drive to the front wheels.

Fuel consumption for the auto is rated at 6.0L/100km and it takes standard 91 RON unleaded.

Small engines aren’t necessarily bad, or even relatively low power output, depending on what they are being asked to push or pull.

But the engine in this car doesn’t produce a helluva lot of torque, which is the stuff that gets you off the line quickly and up hills easily.

The turbo addresses this problem.

Be that as it may, around town, day-to day performance is fine.

The six-speed auto, however, sometimes feels like an old four-speed the way it carries on, changing down and roaring dramatically to life if you punch the accelerator.

Also, and this has been well documented, reefing the transmission selector back for drive will see manual mode selected and the engine max out before you’ve figured out what is going on.

It becomes tiresome.

Suspension is Mac strut at the front with a basic, torsion beam rear setup, and it rides on 17 inch alloys with 215/55 profile rubber.

The car sits flat, feels taught and has a firmish ride, and can be driven enthusiastically with confidence.

In fact, the suspension is excellent on backroads.

Steering is sharp and accurate and the brakes are confident.

But the Continental tyres are a bit of a disappointment as they lack grip.

The analogue clock between the air vents is a classy touch, but we’d swap it for a digital speedo.

Why do so many car companies regard this as not necessary?

You do however get some other totally irrelevant information cycling through the trip computer, including graphs for power and torque.

The infotainment system is well laid out and easy to use, but lacks digital radio and the navigation could do with speed camera warnings.

There’s one USB and one 12 volt socket in the lower centre console, with another 12 volt socket in the luggage area.

What about safety?

Vitara has worn a five-star safety rating since 2015 but a closer examination will reveal that it lacks most if not all of the latest active assistance systems.

It’s got seven airbags but lacks such things as auto emergency braking, blind spot detection, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert.

If you want them, you’ll have to shell out for the turbo model which is another $5000.

I don’t know about you, but I have a very low tolerance for car manufactures that reserve any safety features at all for their higher priced models. You can’t put a price on safety.

Two Isofix and three tether style child seat anchor points are provided.

Rated at 6.0L/100km, we were getting 6.5L/100km after 555km.

2022 Suzuki Vitara 6

What we like?

  • Easy to live with
  • Solid engineering
  • Good fuel economy
  • Practical compact wagon
  • Built-in satellite navigation

2022 Suzuki Vitara 3

What we don’t like?

  • No digital speedo
  • No rear air vents
  • No speed camera warnings
  • Touchscreen at times unresponsive
  • No power or USB outlets in console box

2022 Suzuki Vitara 4

The bottom line?

What you’re looking at here is no frills Japanese transport, but at $30,490, even if that is driveaway, it is far from competitive.

Vitara is a practical, well engineered little wagon (maybe even over-engineered going on the size of the manual) that uses hardly any fuel.

But seven years down the track it needs to be more than that.

2022 Suzuki Vitara 5

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Suzuki Vitara Automatic, priced from $30,490 driveaway
  • Looks - 7/10
  • Performance - 7/10
  • Safety - 6/10
  • Thirst - 8/10
  • Practicality - 7.5/10
  • Comfort - 7/10
  • Tech - 7/10
  • Value - 7.5/10

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