Jeep 2020 Dec

2019 Suzuki Vitara Turbo AWD Review - Safer Suzi


Suzuki has given the Vitara SUV an update, freshening its appearance and boosting on-board safety tech. Top-tier models continue with the 1.4-litre BoosterJet engine and all-wheel drive, and that’s the one we spent some time in recently.

Words: Nile Bijoux   |   Photos Tom Gasnier
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This sells for $37,990, but with the two-tone paint job, figure on $38,790. In terms of outward changes, Vitara offers new 17-inch alloys, a redesigned bumper, LED daytime running lights and rear privacy glass. There are some fresh bits inside too, like a softer touch dash and new seat trimmings.

We found the latter to be on the firm side and lacking in lower back support, meaning longer drives could necessitate more pit stops. But the seven-inch digital infotainment screen is as easy to use as ever and the six-speaker audio system offers great sound quality.

Speaking of quality, the interior finishings are up to snuff at this price point with the leather-bound steering wheel, chrome garnishings, centre analogue and silver-ringed instruments adding a nice layer of luxury.

Vitara was given five ANCAP stars back in 2015 thanks to good passive safety equipment so if this is a high priority, the top Vitara is a stronger performer than ever.

We wish they had boosted the AC in the upgrade however. With a heatwave enveloping the country at the time, the air conditioning struggled, with the ‘Low’ setting translating to 17 degrees.

A new trick up the Vitara’s sleeve is a smattering of active safety equipment. The turbocharged crossover now comes with adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, weaving alert, rear cross traffic alert, a blind spot monitor and eight total proximity sensors on the front and rear.

Vitara was given five ANCAP stars back in 2015 thanks to good passive safety equipment so if this is a high priority, the top Vitara is a stronger performer than ever. However, the lower-spec JLX models miss out on the added safety, though still get a reversing camera, emergency brake assist, hill descent control, hill-hold assist and electronic stability control.

All-wheel-drive models get AllGrip, which allows drivers to change the driving characteristics of the car. Auto mode is what we used most, as it offers the best balance for city driving while other options include Snow, Sport and Lock modes.

The first two are self-explanatory while Lock mode is designed specifically for getting out of snow, mud or sand by sending more power to the rear wheels and letting traction control, well, control the traction.

Power for the Turbo comes from the 1.4-litre BoosterJet engine, identical to the one found in the new Swift Sport. The same 103kW/220Nm is sent through a six-speed automatic but crucially the all-paw Turbo weighs a claimed 1235kg at the curb. That’s good going for a sports car let alone a family-friendly SUV.


As a result, Vitara is a sprightly thing, threading through bends without much fuss. MacPherson struts up front paired with a torsion beam at the back handle pretty much anything a normal driver will throw at Vitara with ease.

There’s a little bit of body roll to deal with but hardly an alarming amount. The one downer is the road noise on coarse chipseal. Suzuki says fuel use is between 5.9 and 6.2L/100km but the trip computer readout stayed stoically at the 7.1L/100km mark, which included both city driving and some lively backroads. We used just over half a tank of fuel, which equated to roughly 350km.

As far as functionality goes Vitara does well. There’s a good legroom for rear seat occupants and the boot offers 375 litres of space, expandable to 710L with the seats folded down. There’s also a covered space under the boot beneath the normal storage area for hiding away valuables.

Vision is good overall, aided by the camera when backing, though when the rear headrests are in place, they do gobble up your rearward view via the mirror.

The last Vitara we drive was the front-drive version and our conclusion was “go for the turbo,” rather than regular 1.6. The same holds true for the AWD version, especially with the new active safety gubbins.

The Stats

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Model Suzuki Vitara Turbo AWD  Price $38,790

Engine 1373cc, IL4, T/DI, 103kW/220Nm

Transmission 6-speed auto, on-demand AWD

Vitals 9.5sec 0-100km/h, 6.2L/100km, 145g/km, 1185kg

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