I recently attended the Boosterjet launch of the Suzuki Vitara at Redstar raceway east of Johannesburg. Suzuki has (literally) boosted its very popular Vitara range with the launch of a range-topping Vitara Turbo in both manual and automatic. The Vitara range boasts an impressive heritage of over 30 years, from the introduction of the first generation in 1988. Through the years it has evolved into a slightly larger compact SUV in the form of the first generation Grand Vitara in 1998 and the global debut of the evergreen second-generation Grand Vitara in 2005 that is still on sale to this day.
At its launch in 2015, the Vitara drew very positive comments for its sporty profile. It looks good but it has a lot of competition in this segment, competing with the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, amongst others. The Suzuki’s engineers added a trapezoidal lower front intake, which opens towards the road, a clamshell bonnet with power bulge, a sloping roofline ending in thick C-pillars and an accentuated rear hipline with a kicked-up character line that runs over the rear fenders.
The Vitara Turbo is also equipped with LED daytime running lights and, in this configuration, LED head- and brake lights, with a set of silver roof rails and chrome detailing in the front grille and under the fog lamps. The long list of luxuries includes, steering mounted controls for the audio and cruise control systems (which also feature speed limiting functionality), park distance control both front and rear, automatic climate control, a 4.2” multi-information full colour display in the instrument binnacle and electric windows and mirrors.
Suzuki has also added its very popular 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone connectivity and reverse camera to the Turbo, which offers complete mobile phone integration with in-build Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink systems. The system includes an SD slot, a USB port, Bluetooth connectivity for hands free dialling and voice control for many of the infotainment features.
But let’s get into the meat of the Vitara which is the new 1.4 litre BOOSTERJET engine, which lands at the same time, as the new Suzuki Swift Sport.
In the Vitara, the BOOSTERJET engine delivers 103 kW at 5 500 rpm and a healthy 220 Nm in a completely linear way from 1 500 to 4 000 rpm. By comparison, the Vitara 1.6 litre GLX delivers 86 kW at 6 000 rpm and 156 Nm at a peak of 4 400 rpm.
Power is delivered to the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic gearbox, with the latter offering manual shifting via steering-mounted paddles. We did an exercise where we dragged down the raceway and did a 0 to 100km/h stop. It goes well and gets through the gears pretty smoothly as well, and its tested fuel consumption in a combined cycle is 5.8 litres for the manual model and 5.9 for the auto.
All models in the Suzuki Vitara range are fitted with electronic stability control (ESP) with traction control, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and a brake-assist system (BAS). The Suzuki Vitara Turbo is sold with Suzuki’s promotional 200 000 km / 5-year mechanical warranty and a full 6-year / unlimited kilometre warranty against corrosion. Suzuki has also added a 24//7 roadside assistance plan for the same period as the warranty and a comprehensive 4-year / 60 000 km service plan.
RECOMMENDED RETAIL PRICE Incl. VAT VITARA 1.6 GL 5MT 287 900, 1.6 GL+ 5MT 325 900, 1.6 GL+ 6AT 345 900, 1.6 GLX 5MT ALLGRIP 383 900, 1.6 GLX 6AT 373 900, 1.4 TURBO GLX 6MT 378 900, 1.4 TURBO GLX 6AT 397 900
In summing up, the addition of the turbo engine is a big improvement, and Suzuki are on a high with their sales presently. Whether this addition adds to their sales remains to be seen.