MOTORS REVIEW: Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid-SZ5

MOTORS REVIEW: Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid-SZ5

By Tom Sharpe | 05/06/2022

MOTORS REVIEW: Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid-SZ5

 

IT would be fair to say that Suzuki has received more of an electric shock than most carmakers after regulations were introduced across the globe in the battle to curb vehicle emissions.

It was not that the Japanese carmaker’s vehicles were in any way less eco-friendly than those of their rivals, more the economic realities of having to introduce expensive electrified drivetrains into vehicles whose USP was always affordability.

A partnership with Toyota delivered high-quality electrified products in the form of the Corolla-based Swace and the Across – essentially a re-badged Rav4 plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

But the result was the introduction of an estate car costing just shy of £28,000 and an SUV costing almost £46,000 into the brand’s showrooms…uncharted territory for its customers.

Now the entire Suzuki range has received some kind of electrified assistance, with other models receiving slightly more cost-effective makeovers.

In showrooms from March this year is this, the full hybrid version of the Vitara SUV, available from £25,499 at launch – nearly £7,000 more than the mild hybrid version previously tested here – in SZ-T, SZ5 (£27,499) and SZ5 AllGrip (£29,299) trim levels, the latter of which is tested here.

True to Suzuki’s delivery of lightweight cars to deliver frugal results, the Vitara remains one of the lightest cars in its class, weighing just 1,268kg, despite its new electrical gubbins.

Switchable between Standard and Eco settings, the all-wheel-drive Vitara Hybrid tested her features a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine mated to a 140V lithium-ion battery and 33PS electric motor.

The result is a 115PS power output, aligned to 138Nm of torque, which will propel the Vitara to 62mph in 13.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 111mph.

That is pretty tardy performance by any measure, and an automated six-speed manual is partly to blame.

On the move it is smooth enough, but sustained acceleration is punctuated by nodding dog-style punctuations in forward motion.

The Vitara Hybrid certainly does not feel as slow as its on-paper stats suggest for the most part, though, and Suzuki claims 48.4mpg fuel economy and 132g/km CO2 emissions as compensation.

My test saw the trip computer indicate over 50mpg with no great effort as Vitara’s light weight helped deliver impressive economy as well as a typically agile chassis from the Japanese brand.

Suzuki’s Vitara is an SUV that feels quite analogue compared to some in the sector, but is more predictable and fun out on the road as a result.

The Vitara delivers decent C-segment cabin space, its upright stance, high driving position and clear lines of sight instilling a sense of confidence and security.

Those upright dimensions also instil an airiness in the cabin alongside impressive shoulder room for rear seat passengers.

A 289-litre boot is small, however, even by the standards of hatchbacks in this part of the market.

Despite a cabin which features the kind of hard plastics now rarely found elsewhere in the sector, all Vitara Hybrids come with an impressive specification.

There are LED headlights, keyless entry and starting, a reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, 17-inch alloys, climate control and enough safety technology to secure a five-star Euro NCAP rating.

The SZ5 tested here adds part faux leather, part quilted suede effect seats which look great, a panoramic sunroof and front and rear parking sensors.

Suzuki’s seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system is improved with the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, removing the need to fathom some of its hard to fathom on-screen functionality.

The sound system is not the best, though, and holding a handsfree conversation at motorway speeds via the infotainment system’s Bluetooth system is difficult in a cabin that falls short in the refinement stakes as the pace rises.

Taking the plunge into electrification has undoubtedly created issues for Suzuki, most of which are associated with a shift that has dragged its prices into the realms of rivals that do some of the nicer, soft touch bits better.

It continues to deliver well-built cars with an excellent reputation for reliability from a retail network well-regarded for its levels of service, though.

To my mind the Vitara remains at its best in its most simplified, mild hybrid form, with a manual gearbox and a more palatable starting price of £23,749.

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