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The Top Gear car review:Suzuki Vitara
What is it like on the road?
Jimny aside, Suzuki has a habit of making its cars sweet to drive, often defying the standards of the class they operate in, not to mention their price point. Dedication to lightweight certainly helps – a base Vitara is a Fiesta-like 1,160kg, and upgrading to 4WD only adds another 105kg – and there’s a likeable cleanness and simplicity to the way the Vitara goes about its business.
There’s a lack of sophistication compared to some rivals, its ride occasionally a bit rough and with no adaptive suspension button to smooth off the edges. But it’s far more fun to drive than you’d dare expect, a feeling accentuated by those new engines. Where you previously needed to go diesel for an engine with enough vigour to match the chassis, you now have a pair of very willing petrols to choose from.
The 1.0 will be a default choice for most, and it’s the only way to buy a Vitara in base ‘SZ4’ trim, which is where a budget SUV like this probably makes most sense. It’s as smooth and pleasant as just about everyone else’s three-cylinder turbo, and as surprisingly quiet at a cruise too.
The 1.4 really ups the Vitara’s game, though, and paired to the standard manual gearbox, makes for a car that’s far more entertaining to drive than most of its owners might ever appreciate. It’s the net result of getting the basics right and not imposing needless stiffness or haphazard premium aspirations on something where they’re not necessary.