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The Suzuki Vitara, a new contender in the crossover market

The compact and subcompact crossover vehicle category is steadily gaining momentum in the local automobile market. Buyers looking for new vehicles in this market segment are getting a wider range of options from a number of automobile manufactures.

Pak Suzuki had launched the Vitara in December 2016, taking market trends at the time into consideration.

Pak Suzuki is currently offering two variants of the 4th generation Suzuki Vitara;
Suzuki Vitara front view

GL+: PKR; 3,490,000/=
GLX: PKR; 3,790,000/=

Both variants are sold as CBU (completely built units), imported from Hungary in accordance with Pakistani specifications and both come with a 60,000 kilometer or 3-year warranty.

I got a chance to personally test drive the all-new Vitara at Carachi Motor Company, located in Karachi.

The model I got to test was the Vitara GLX, the top-of-the-line variant on offer.
EXTERIOR

The front of the Vitara welcomes you to a mix of the SX4 sedan and a hint of the 3rd generation Swift. The grill comprises of a chrome finish which gives the front end a busy look and feel.
Suzuki Vitara panoramic roof

Towards the bottom there are day-time running lights (GLX only) accompanied with fog lights and parking sensors. The headlights are projector LEDs on low beam (GLX only) and Halogen on high beam.

Moving towards the sides, there are chrome garnishes over the front fenders (GLX only) and fully powered and retractable side-view mirror with LED indicators.
Suzuki Vitara 17″ alloy wheels

One of my favorite features of the vehicle is the large dual-pane panoramic glass roof (GLX only), which is uncommon to see in this segment of Japanese compact crossovers as well as the aluminium roof rails (GLX only).

The shoes it wears surprised me at first glance, the GLX comes with 17’’ inch alloy wheels finished off in matte silver and gloss grey wrapped in 215/55/R17 Continental ContiPreimum Comfort tires, which have little to no road noise and great grip quality.

The wheels may not be the prettiest set of wheels you would see but they blend in well enough with the rest of the car.
INTERIOR

The quality of interior is an improvement from our local Suzuki options but there is still usage of low quality hard plastics on the dashboard, door panels and centre console.

However, options such as a multi-function leather stitched steering wheel, cruise control, hill descent control, multi-information display, 10’’ inch Android OS based infotainment system, paddle shifters and climate control take your attention away from the sub-par quality of these plastic fixtures.
Suzuki Vitara multimedia system

The panoramic roof from the inside gives a premium view of the sky and brightens up the interior heavily once the shade is moved back.

The seats are a blend of suede and leather, with centre suede inserts and leather side bolsters. They are surprisingly comfortable for both short and long distance driving.

Locking and unlocking of the doors is controlled by a smart key access system, which works even when the smart key fob is in your pocket. It uses push button ignition instead of a conventional ignition key cylinder which is becoming standard for cars throughout the automotive industry.

An auto-dimming rear-view mirror is pre-installed (GLX only) to reduce the high beam glare of the vehicle behind you during night-time driving.

I myself being 6 foot tall did not have much leg or head room in the rear seating cabin, my knees hit the front seats once they were moved all the way back and I had to lower my head a bit due to the panoramic roof.

Trunk space is pretty much similar to its competitors, 375 litres. This means you can fit nearly three medium sized suitcases after tucking the parcel shelf away.
Suzuki Vitara Trunk

Something which bothered me a lot on the test drive was the fact that there was no armrest for the driver seat.

After driving for a while you want to rest your fatigued arm on to something, well you can’t with this Vitara unless you buy the armrest as an option from the list of available add-ons.

The infotainment system is based on Android operating software.

The screen size is 10.1’’ inches and the system is powered by a 1.4 GHZ Quad Core Processor with 1GB RAM and 16GB built-in memory.

Some of its key features are a Sygic based GPS Navigation system, DVD playback, Bluetooth, Mirror Link, Air Play, USB/SD input and built-in Wi-Fi.

It is a pretty impressive head-unit with all modern resources which fill our daily needs and then some.

The feedback of the touch-screen is very responsive and has no lag, very easy to use menu with a bunch of different settings to choose from.

The screen does however bounce sunlight back a lot which causes discomfort while driving.

The climate control is a single zone unit which is very straight forward to control.

There are two 12V sockets below the air conditioning unit and one in the trunk but unfortunately there are none for backseat passengers, which is necessary for long trips.

Places to hold your drinks and bottles? There is one in every door panel, and two additional ones in the centre console, only if there was an armrest instead of more cup holders.
ENGINE

Both the GL+ and GLX are offered with a 1.6L M16A in-line four cylinder naturally aspirated engine equipped with VVT (Variable Valve Timing). It produces 118HP at 6,000RPM and 156 NM of torque at 4,400RPM.

The acceleration isn’t outstanding but for city driving and merging on to open roads, it gets the job done.

The Vitara will do 0-100 Km/hr in approximately 12 seconds, which is sluggish if you consider the displacement of the engine and the overall light weight of this crossover.

The fuel economy is said to be 15.5-17.5 Km/L depending on your driving mode, road condition and driving style.
TRANSMISSION

The engine is paired to a 6-speed automatic gearbox with a manual mode which can be used via the steering mounted paddle shifters marked Plus (+) for up-shift and Minus (-) for downshift.
Suzuki Vitara

The response time is reasonable and it gives a good level of feedback to the driver unlike CVT transmissions which can get annoying at times. The transmission is fun to play with and does not show any signs of hesitation while shifting gears, which makes for a great driving experience on the open road.
SAFETY

Both variants come with a total of seven SRS airbags which include dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain airbags and a driver-side knee airbag.
Suzuki Vitara airbags

An Immobiliser is also a standard feature for both the GL+ and GLX, even though the GL+ does not come with a smart key access system or push button ignition. Parking sensors are standard for both and each bumper comes with four parking sensors.
BRAKES, SUSPENSION, DRIVE-TRAIN

The Vitara GL+ and Vitara GLX both come with 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System), EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution), ESP (Electronic Stability Program) and TRC (Traction Control System). The brakes are very responsive and have a decent amount of bite to them upon sudden braking on both even and uneven surfaces.

The suspension does feel bumpy while passing over small ditches, bumps and patched roads at higher speeds, but that is something that can be expected from 17’’ inch wheels on a crossover vehicle. Both variants come standard with Suzuki’s AllGrip 4WD drive system.

The only feature which I did not get to personally test out was the Hill Descent Control or Hill Hold Control. Living in Karachi there aren’t many inclines to deal with on the road but for those living in more hilly or mountainous parts of the country, it could be a vital inclusion.

There are four different driving modes in the AllGrip 4WD system which you can select using the dedicated control knob located behind the gear shifter; Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock.
Suzuki Vitara driving modes

In Auto mode, the vehicle is mostly in 2 wheel drive unless it detects no traction or slippage, it engages 4WD depending upon the traction of the tires.

Lock mode locks up the front and rear differentials to maximise traction in muddy terrain or if it detects the vehicle to be stuck. It would switch itself to Snow mode automatically if the speed is above 60 Km/hr.

In Snow mode, the drive-train reacts to your throttle and steering movement. It engages ESP and sends power to the rear wheels before it feels the vehicle is about to lose traction.

In Sport mode, all four wheels come into play to provide ultimate handling for navigating bends and corners, letting you shift gears from the paddle shifters at the RPM of your choice.

On an open stretch of road, I got the chance to take it up to 140km/hr and the vehicle felt very stable throughout. There was minimal crosswind coming in from the A-pillar and C-pillar but it effortlessly maneuvered the bends and curves on the road, thanks to the very impressive AllGrip 4WD system.
VERDICT

Having experienced driving other compact crossovers, the new Vitara certainly brings much needed value into this market segment. There is no doubt it will face tough competition this year from rivals but taking into account the added value and attention to detail provided through the various options and after sales service it has to offer, the Vitara can really be a ‘game changer’ for Pak Suzuki.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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