Suzuki Vitara Review 2023
Suzuki Vitara At A Glance
Insurance Groups are between 11–23
On average it achieves 87% of the official MPG figure
The Suzuki Vitara name is synonymous with no-nonsense reliability, value for money and low running costs. And, while there are posher rivals out there, the latest Vitara combines all these desirable attributes with a spacious cabin while also being surprisingly fun to drive.
One of the very first small SUVs, the Suzuki Vitara has now been on sale for more than 30 years. The latest model hasn't been around quite that long, but it has been on the market longer than many of its rivals – cars like the Ford Puma, Skoda Kamiq and latest Nissan Juke, to name just a few.
The Suzuki Vitara does things its own way, though. While some crossovers arguably put style over substance, Suzuki's reliability record means the Vitara should last considerably longer than the average PCP cycle. And, unusually for an SUV of this size, it's available with four-wheel drive. No, it's not going to follow in the tracks of a Land Rover Defender, but it'll hold its own on an untreated rural road.
There have been a number of engines offered in the Suzuki Vitara since the latest iteration went on sale in 2015. We liked the little 1.0-litre BoosterJet – a turbocharged three-cylinder unit with a surprising amount of get-up-and-go – but it didn't last long, offered for a brief period from 2018.
Today, you can get the Suzuki Vitara with a choice of a 1.4-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine or a new 1.5 'full' hybrid. Both offer pretty similar fuel economy stats on paper, with the mild-hybrid model providing a combined WLTP figure of 52.7 while the full hybrid scrapes 53.0mpg – both considerably less than the 64.2mpg you can expect to see from certain Toyota Yaris Cross models.
They're not quick, either. While you don't buy a car like this for performance, the Vitara Hybrid's leisurely 12.7-second 0-62mph time could soon become frustrating when joining the motorway. Even more irritating is the slightly annoying automated manual transmission – the electrical assistance only goes some way towards smoothing over clumsy gear changes.
Still, the Suzuki Vitara's quite fun to drive in a sense. It feels a bit like a Swift-on-stilts, with loads of grip and a small turning circle. It does lean in bends more than, say, a Ford Puma or SEAT Arona, but it's much more car-like to drive than the Suzuki Jimny.
The Suzuki Vitara's interior is feeling a little dated compared to the best in class, although it has received minor updates and improvements over the years. A facelift in 2019 brought with it some welcome additions in the form of a new instrument cluster and some additional soft-touch materials, but otherwise it's pretty much the same as when it was launched in 2015.
With a boxier shape than a Nissan Juke, the Vitara's cabin is surprisingly practical for a small SUV. Access is easy (thanks to wide-opening doors), while you sit higher than you do in a regular hatchback – giving you a good view of your surroundings and a generally increased feeling of safety.
Talking of which, Euro NCAP awarded the Suzuki Vitara a full five stars out of five when it was crash tested back in 2015. You get seven airbags as standard, while the latest models come with things like lane-assist tech (which can nudge you back into your lane if you inadvertently start to stray) and an autonomous braking system that can help prevent (or at least reduce the severity of) a crash.
While there have been a few Suzuki Vitara derivatives over the years, the range is now made up simply of two models: the Vitara SZ-T and the Vitara SZ-5. Both are generously equipped for the money, with the SZ-T starting from a shade under £24,000 and including 17-inch alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, automatic air conditioning and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
The Suzuki SZ5 is closer to £26,000 and comes with a panoramic sunroof, dual-sensor brake support, keyless entry/start and 17-inch polished alloy wheels.
We lived with a Vitara for six months - find out how we got on with it in our Suzuki Vitara long term test.