By on 2017-08-16 -
Suzuki Vitara a
great diesel auto
OUR love affair with the SUV seems to go on and on with sales rising every year and all the car makers getting into the action.
But Suzuki has been making real 4x4s for much longer than most others and they really know what they're doing.
Take the Vitara for example. For the majority of drivers it's an urban SUV with the looks of a 4x4 but front wheel drive is all they need.
However, most models are available with proper automatic four wheel drive (4WD) and this turns it into a true, go-anywhere off-roader that will see you through the worst of tracks and mud, easily tow a caravan, or keep you going in the ice and snow of a bad winter.
And despite looking fairly small up against some of the other SUV offerings, it has plenty of legroom front and rear and a huge boot.
For many years, it was difficult to find smaller diesels of any description with an automatic gearbox, but the Vitara I drove recently had this combination together with 4WD and it worked beautifully.
The Suzuki 1.6 turbo diesel engine is reasonably powerful, decently refined and very economical.
It returned 49.6mpg which has to be something very special even in these days of ever increasing economy figures from all the car manufacturers.
The TCSS automatic is a twin clutch system which gives almost as good economy as a manual, and can be used as a sequential manual, with paddles to change gear behind the steering wheel.
In full auto or Sport settings however, it changes gear quicker than you could do it yourself, making the manual mode pretty much unnecessary.
Performance is not going to set the world on fire, but it rarely feels short of urge when you plant the right foot and suits city driving beautifully.
I enjoyed it immensely on the road, and a couple of steep, wet grass banks - which have defeated lesser 4x4s - were climbed with the greatest of ease.
The ride is excellent over all surfaces, taking potholed town roads and speed humps as easily as rough country roads at speed.
And despite some roll, the roadholding is also good, with a high level of grip, and the positive steering helped towards decent handling.
In SZ-5 trim, equipment includes parking sensors, stability control, alloys, cruise, climate control, a moon roof that opens just for air, sat nav and aux in for the FM/AM radio.
Mechanical: 118bhp, 1,598cc, 4 cylinder diesel driving all four wheels via 6 speed automatic gearbox
Combined MPG: 62.8
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