Suzuki Vitara 1.5 HEV SZ5 ALLGRIP

A vehicle with one of the longest running names in the market, the Suzuki Vitara has been coming to the UK since 1991. It’s changed a lot in that time, of course – from the Vitara to the Grand Vitara and back again, through various sizes, shapes, body configurations and chassis set-ups and, notably, in and thankfully back out of a deep trough
immediately after turning its back on old-school off-road tech.

What it has become is a very sound choice at the budget end of the SUV market – and it became sounder than ever a couple of years ago with the introduction of a full hybrid engine. This mates a 1.5-litre petrol unit to a 140-volt electric system. Not the biggest beast on the market, but the motor adds 33bhp and 44lbf.ft to the engine’s 115bhp and 101lbf.ft – not creating a huge total, but that’s something like 25% of the vehicle’s output so it’s not to be sniffed at. Especially as part of its job is to smooth out the gearchanges in an automated manual box.

How well does it do this? Quite effectively, in fact. Normally, we hate automated manuals, but the Vitara doesn’t jolt and bump its way through the gears and whether you’re taking it easy around town or asking for more on the open road it’s smooth enough not to cause any upsets.

The engine is pretty loud, however, with an ever-present background note that rises to become quite raucous under load. It’s not short of zest, with better performance than the raw figures would give you to expect, but it sounds as if it’s straining to move the vehicle around. You do get used to it after a while, but t would be so much better if you didn’t have to in the first place.

Read the full article in the April issue of Overlander 4×4.

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