The Vitara under the spotlight here is the fourth-generation model launched in 2015. It’s another well-rounded effort from Suzuki that offers more than its unpretentious styling and reasonable pricing suggest. It’s an SUV, of course, but one that justifies the term by being both a competent sports and a convincing utility vehicle in one.
From launch, buyers could choose a 1.6-litre petrol or a 1.6-litre diesel, each with 118bhp. The petrol is smooth and eager and the diesel economical but a bit gruff. They were dropped in the 2019 facelift but the petrol, especially, is good value. Also available from launch was the 1.4-litre Boosterjet, a more modern petrol unit that produces 138bhp and, being turbocharged, is stronger from low revs than the naturally aspirated 1.6 petrol. However, it can be thirsty when pushed hard and early ones are expensive because they’re all four-wheel drive and in top-level S trim.
After the facelift, the engine range amounted to just two units. The 1.4 Boosterjet remained but was now available with two-wheel drive as well as in cheaper trims. Today, you can get into, for example, a 2019-reg two-wheel-drive SZ-T with 20,000 miles for £11,999. This compares with £15,800 for the equivalent Allgrip SZ5, the only trim offered with the four-wheel drive system and 1.4 engine combined. The second engine in the post-2019 line-up is a three-cylinder 1.0-litre Boosterjet. This turbo petrol has a modest 109bhp but is actually quite sprightly and will return around 43mpg at a squeeze. A 2019-reg SZ-T with 15,000 miles is £12,000.
Allgrip four-wheel drive was available from launch on the 1.6-litre engines and the 1.4 Boosterjet. More recently, it became standard on the 1.4 Boosterjet MHEV (mild-hybrid electric vehicle), launched in 2020. The system can shuffle drive between the wheels automatically or, in extremis, can be locked in four-wheel drive, turning the Vitara into a credible off-roader. That said, two-wheel-drive versions can make light off-roading skirmishes without complaint.