Drive Review: Suzuki Vitara 1.6 GL+ (2016)

A sheep dressed in wolf’s clothing, the new Suzuki Vitara has done a good job of donning Range Rover Evoque inspired clothing to usher in a new era for this Japanese SUV.

New Suzuki Vitara tested in South Africa 2016

New Suzuki Vitara tested in South Africa 2016


Probably the biggest talking point of the new Suzuki Vitara is just how modern looking the latest offering is. While it shares a lot of styling qualities with the Evoque, it certainly isn’t a bad thing. The mixture of soft and aggressive styling works well with the Vitara to give the car a lovely balanced look.

Sharing its platform with the SX4, the raised ride height and improved angular styling does mean that the Vitara is more off-road biased than its other crossover sibling. But in a rather competitive segment, how does the new Suzuki Vitara measure up?

Suzuki Vitara (3)

Unfortunately styling alone isn’t enough in the ever changing automotive landscape. And while you certainly can’t fault the Vitara in that department, the lack of a turbo engine in our market does mean the Suzuki falls short of some of its rivals.

Powered by a 1.6 litre petrol motor, our test car was the 1.6 GL+ derivative and boasted a five-speed manual box. Capable of producing 86kW of power and 151Nm of torque, this Japanese sumo did feel slightly underpowered, particularly in Joburg. You can’t help but feel that Suzuki SA are yearning for the 1.4-litre turbo powertrain that is available overseas to beef up their line-up.

The motor did have to be driven for a decent pull-off, but once on the open road and at cruising speed, the Vitara showed just how comfortable it can be.

Suzuki Vitara (1)

Out on the road, the Vitara is a worthy travel partner. The ride height is decent and the car is designed to handle like the Suzuki Swift, which means the Suzuki Vitara always feels planted on the road and delivers a smooth drive. Seamless shifting of the manual gearbox is a treat, although a sixth gear would be welcomed for the highway driving. The steering offers decent feedback, despite being very light, makes for an engaging drive.

Fuel consumption figures are respectable with our test mule sipping roughly 7.1 litres/100km during our tenure together.

Of course, while looks and drive are important, as an owner, the cabin is where you’d bide most of your time with the vehicle. Suzuki’s done a stellar job at making the cabin welcoming. The interior is spacious and comfortable. The lack of a soft touch dash is a downside, however the red inlays in the dashboard (to match the exterior colour) makes for a funky interior feel.

Suzuki Vitara (2)

Usher into the mix a good dollop of tech features like cruise control, Bluetooth audio will ensure the journey is that much more comfortable.

Overall, I rather like the new direction the Vitara has taken. It’s a hip, funky crossover, which slots in nicely into its segment. But a few shortcomings in the engine department doesn’t make the Vitara as technologically well-endowed as some of its rivals and that’s what might stunt it from dominating the marketing.

*Read our launch drive impression on the Suzuki Vitara 

Base Price R239 900
Engine Capacity 1 586 cm³
No. Of Cylinders 4-cylinders
Aspiration Normal
Power 86kW at 6 000 r/min
Torque 151Nm at 4 400 r/min
Transmission 5-speed Manual
Drive type Front wheel drive
Acceleration 0-100 km/h in N/A seconds (claimed)
Top Speed N/A
Fuel Consumption 5.8l/100km (claimed combined)
CO2 Emissions 136g/km



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