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Thami Masemola
Date published: 21/08/2019
Tags: Suzuki; Vitara; Turbo; Mzansi; New
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New Turbocharged Suzuki Vitara

About three years ago Suzuki South Africa reached a super milestone. They sold over 1 000 cars in one month for the first time. Since then, the brand has pretty much stayed on that level, reflecting on how Mzansi consumers have embraced it over the years. With the launch of the new Swift Sport and Vitara Turbo, Suzuki is, in a way, thanking those customers by giving them something more to smile about.

That’s because the new Vitara Turbo and Swift Sport feature a new turbocharged engine that adds some welcome vuma to products that are already some of the best in their class. I’ll start with the Vitara, which is a sub-compact SUV/crossover that competes in the same league as the likes of Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Creta and the new Mahindra XUV3oo among others.

Vitara has been a respected name for over 30 years, evolving all that time into what it is today. It was one of the pioneers of the small SUV segment. The current model was launched back in 2015. Suzuki designers have given it a new front end with a trapezoidal lower front grille, chrome-like elements, LED headlights, fog lights, and 17-inch alloy wheels. One of the exterior highlights has to be the dual-tone paintwork, which can be had in seven combinations.

The new engine is a 1.4-litre Boosterjet turbo and delivers 103kW of power at 5 500rpm, as well as 220Nm of torque between 1 500rpm and 4 000rpm. All of that goes to the front wheels via either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic gearbox. Suzuki did not specify any 0 – 100km/h sprint time, but during the launch at Red Star Raceway some drivers did manage sprint times of between 8.9 and 9.5 seconds. Not bad for a small SUV. In fact, a few years ago that would qualify as entry-level hot hatch material.

While the Vitara Turbo is not a hot hatch at all, it does provide the driver with ample overtaking options when that time comes, including on the higher gears as well. On the drive around Gauteng and Mpumalanga, I was able to go past slower traffic with ease, as well as go up steep hills without breaking much of a sweat. The 6-speed manual is relatively smooth to operate, although some fellow testers complained that it often skipped third gear when changing quickly. We did not drive like the average driver, so our fuel consumption figure would not be a fair reflection of reality. However, when the tank is full, one should get a range of about 600km or so. The car can take up to five adults, although number five might not be too comfortable in the middle seat. The boot swallows a fair amount of luggage and can be split into an upper and lower level.

Some of the stand-out interior features of the Vitara Turbo include the new 17.8cm infotainment touch screen we first saw in the new Jimny. It is not difficult to figure out and use, especially since the layout is clear and simple. One can also connect their smart phone with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto as well. Bluetooth, SD card and USB port connectivity are included too. For those who are not quite comfortable with their reversing skills, there is a reverse camera which displays on the screen. Other safety items include 7 airbags, ESP, and ABS brakes with BAS and EBD.

Suzuki is riding a success wave at the moment, not only here in Mzansi, but also globally. Last year the company sold over 3 million cars. The new Vitara Turbo will surely give buyers in the market something serious to consider in its segment.