Suzuki Vitara 1.4

Hybrid SZ5 ALLGRIP

Suzuki Vitara, front static 2
Suzuki Vitara, front static 3
Suzuki Vitara, front action
Suzuki Vitara, front static
Suzuki Vitara, side action
Suzuki Vitara, dashboard
Suzuki Vitara, rear static
Suzuki Vitara, rear static
Suzuki Vitara, boot

FULL marks to the person at Suzuki who managed to wangle the size of an Olympic swimming pool into a description of the latest Vitara model, now made more eco friendly with a modest electrical boost.

You see, this latest upgrade means your chunky Vitara SUV, with all-wheel drive available on demand, now emits less carbon dioxide from its tailpipe - thereby saving the equivalent volume of 76 Olympic swimming pools.

Vitara man doesn't say how many miles are involved for this saving, or how compressed the CO2 would have to be, but well done all the same.

For the non-Olympians among us, the savings are down to a revised 1.4-litre petrol engine and a 48 volt battery hidden under the front seats that powers an integrated starter generator, which adds a little power under the bonnet.

It also fills in the power gaps as you change gear and lets the engine start quickly and quietly after it has been paused, saving fuel, in traffic queues and the like.

The result, over several hundred miles, was a dash readout of 47.4mpg. Not only is that a pretty decent return in a car clearly built for a rough and tumble life, it comfortably betters the average Suzuki has to set by rule under a recently toughened official test regime.

So, job done on the economy front. It drives pretty well too, picking up its skirts and running when provoked and standing ready at the whirl of a rotary control to become a four-wheel driver if the going turns snowy or inches thick in mud.

This top SZ5 ALLGRIP also has hill descent control, which brakes for you on tricky downhill terrain - a sign that Suzuki is serious about off-roading.

Suzukis have always come with a no-nonsense air and the Vitara is no different. Building on a reputation for reliability, you'll find a cabin that's more knuckle rappingly firm that softly plush, but obviously solid and meant to last.

Suzuki gets the basics right, with comfy seats and enough room front and rear for a growing family and a boot that's big enough for a supermarket dash.

All the bits and bobs expected in a range topper are present too, from a huge glass sunroof, climate control, adaptive cruise control, rear parking camera and satellite navigation, with a modestly sized screen to show where you're heading.

Safety is well catered for too, warning if you reverse into the path of an approaching vehicle in a car park or beeping if you're not braking as the car in front slows in a hurry.

Bizarrely, for a car that majors on sense and practicality, there are four (!) displays of the time on the dash in different positions but no digital speed readout, relying instead on a small conventional dial.

FAST FACTS

Suzuki Vitara 1.4 Hybrid SZ5 ALLGRIP

Price: £26,549

Mechanical: 127bhp, 1,373cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph: 10.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 45.4

Insurance Group: 19

C02 emissions: 140g/km

Bik rating: 31%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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