Small to medium family cars come in a variety of flavours these days. Sedan, hatch, MPV, crossover and SUV.
Sometimes the distinctions are quite blurry, concerning both size and purpose.
The Suzuki Vitara is a SUV and is a biggish small family car, or is it a smallish medium SUV?
Ah, that is the question.
I can safely say that four adults can sit comfortably for extended distances and you can get four cabin size suitcases in the back, which has a little secret flattish compartment below the removable deck suitable for valuables and flatter items.
There are a number of right size storage cubicles and places. One I particularly like is a slot to the right below the steering wheel which would be ideal for a torch, remote or self defence device. There is another little one in the centre on the tunnel for either your car fob or change. Nice. There are more, but I leave them to you to explore and find when you take one for a test drive, something which I recommend you do
We drove up to Jacobsbaai for a family celebration with three adults on board. My wife kept talking about the oodles of space, especially the headroom and the legroom at the back. On the trip I could get a real impression of how suitable this car is for touring. I can report that the turbo Vitara is effortless to drive on the open road, passing with ease and cruising along in sixth gear at the legal limit.
The GLX has cruise control and very effective climate control, a good sound system, really comfortable seats, a good driving position with above average visibility and a pleasant cabin ambience.
he Suzuki infotainment system is easy to use, fairly comprehensive and effective. Apple CarPlay works extremely well and the Bluetooth phone connection is crystal clear.
There is a multi-data display in the middle of the instrument binnacle between the attractive classic analogue rev counter and speedometer which is customisable for your preferences. I tend to select the fuel consumption display. Speaking of which, I got 6,7L/100km during the week I drove the Vitara. I think 6L/100km will be achievable over the lifetime of the vehicle especially after the engine has loosened up.
Acceleration is almost on the sporty side when you push those revs up a little. As a result overtaking is easy and driving this SUV is fun. This boost in energy is due to the new 1.4 turbo-petrol engine which puts out a very competitive 103kW and 22Nm which is 46% more than the original 1.6 normally aspirated motor.
I really liked the ride quality which is partly due to the right size rim and correctly-sized tyres (Continental 215/55 R17) for this size of car. The handling is also good and almost on the sporty side without being too hard.
There are quite a few cars in this niche, from the really interesting and different Citroen C3 Aircross to the tried and tested Ford EcoSport, the newbies from Haval the H2 and Mahindra, the XUV300 to the classy Mazda CX-3 and the tough Renault Duster. Hyundai offers the Venue and Honda the BR-V, oh did I mention the VW T-Cross and Peugeot 2008? Mmmm, it could be quite confusing.
Of this little lot the Duster in AWD turbo-diesel guise will go furthest off the beaten track, the Aircross has the most flair, the T-Cross sells the most, the CX-3 is the classiest, the H2 shows the most improvement and the Vitara possibly gives the best value, especially over time and especially with the promotional offer at the moment.
From R293 900 for the 1.6 manual GL 2WD right up to R405 900 for the 1.4 GLX Turbo AT. The AWD GLX Allgrip 1.5 five-speed manual is R390 900.
We drove the 1.4 GLX manual which is at present listed at a very competitive R359 900.
The service plan is included and is for 4 years or 60 000km, but the promotional warranty is for five years or 200 000km.