Suzuki takes Vitara

hybrid

Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, 2022, side, action
Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, 2022, front, action
Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, 2022, front, static
Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, 2022, side, static
Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, 2022, side, static
Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, 2022, boot
Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, 2022, engine
Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, 2022, interior
Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, 2022, rear, static
Suzuki Vitara Hybrid, 2022, badge

THE H-word is getting to be a vital accessory in the new car marketplace.

In this case, H stands for Hybrid, which translates as greater efficiency and less thirst for fuel.

And now Suzuki has stepped up the race towards electrification with launch of a full hybrid Vitara, which is in addition to the current mild hybrid.

The Japanese maker's big seller joins supermini Swift, versatile Ignis and crossover S-Cross in the hybrid stakes.

The engine switch comes without any cosmetic, cabin or equipment improvements - only a new hybrid badge differentiates it.

The obvious plus is a reduction in emissions - down to 121 g/km - and slightly improved fuel economy.

On the debit side, boot space is cut from 375 litres to a modest 289 litres because of the increased battery size. Happily, cabin space is unaffected by the switch. It's also slower off the mark than the mild hybrid.

Instead of the renowned 1.4 Boosterjet engine, the full hybrid has a 1.5-litre which is a development of the Jimny unit paired with a 140 volt hybrid system that means it can run on electricity when coasting.

The petrol engine endows it with 115bhp and this topped up by a 33bhp electric motor.

Unlike most rivals, the Suzuki uses Auto Gear Shift transmission, which isn't actually a full automatic as it is generally conceived although it has just two pedals.

In Suzuki's words: "It enables the driver to enjoy both the direct driving experience of a manual and the shifting ease of an automatic."

A further bonus is that it weighs less.

In reality, the gear change is sometimes a tad jerky and the ratios do not appear to match the engine speeds, we found during a hilly North Wales drive.

There are two selectable driving modes - standard and economy.

Three grades are offered with prices starting at £27,499 and all models include loads of safety kit including dual sensor brake support, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and seven airbags.

The current Vitara shape has been with us since 2015 and is wearing well. It's sharp, angular lines are a bit more utilitarian than some of the more modern rivals which reflect its off-road quality but bright colours and a minor facelift in 2019 helped it keep pace.

Less impressive is the cabin design. Whereas rivals have upgraded their furnishings, added more soft touch plastics and streamlined their facia and infotainment systems, the Vitara has plenty of brittle plastics and a somewhat clunky touchscreen.

And whereas competitors' doors now close with a reassuringly heavy clunk, those of the Suzuki feel distinctly light and tinny.

Nevertheless, it remains one of the few small SUVs to offer genuine mud-lugging ability through its excellent Allgrip system of four wheel drive.

And on-road, it's a competent performer with well judged suspension that irons out most surface irregularities and yet still allows relatively roll-free cornering.

It's a crossover that can be enjoyed by keen drivers despite its somewhat leisurely acceleration.

The new full hybrid Vitara emphasises Suzuki's commitment to electrification and puts the firm in forefront of manufacturers moving away from traditional ICE power.

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