Suzuki Vitara SZ5

Allgrip Full Hybrid

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

IT might look like the Suzuki Vitara that everyone is familiar with but the latest version now comes with an additional word on the tailgate - Hybrid.

Suzuki, like many other car makers, has sensibly decided that, at least for now, hybrid models are the way forward and has put its money where it's mouth is.

It preceded the launch of this model with a mild hybrid version and that's still available but only with a manual gearbox.

The new full hybrid is both cleaner in terms of emissions and more frugal thanks to the addition of a 33bhp electric motor to back up the 115bhp, 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine.

And this one comes with Suzuki's version of an automatic gearbox called Auto Gearshift Transmission.

For the uninitiated a mild hybrid works with a small battery backing up the engine but the car is unable to run on electric power alone.

With the new full hybrid the Vitara can, in the right conditions, be driven purely on electric and often is under light throttle pressure.

When more power is needed the Vitara relies on the engine or, more often than not, a combination of engine and electric motor power.

The result is a car which is responsive, agile and during a week's motoring allowed me to average well over 48 miles per gallon. And of course there is no need to plug in as the battery powering the electric motor is charged from the engine.

Acceleration is a little lacklustre with the gearchanges not always seeming quite in sync with the engine when under heavy acceleration but there are paddles behind the steering wheel so you can take over the gearshifts at any time.

And while the Vitara is not designed as a full blown off-roader its Allgrip four-wheel-drive system is more than adequate for anyone whose leisure activities involve travelling across fields or rough terrain

At the same time it drives like a conventional hatchback with light steering and sensible cornering prowess, proving you don't necessarily need a bulky all-wheel-drive vehicle to be able to leave the highway.

And as well as driving like a hatchback the top-of-the-range Vitara SZ5 with Allgrip comes with a lot of nice features often found on upmarket hatchbacks, like a double panel tilt and slide glass sunroof, two-tone exterior and a host of safety features including lane departure warning and cross traffic alert to name but two.

In the cabin good looking suede upholstery is always warm to sit on and there's a centre-set infotainment touch screen which also shows what's behind you when you are reversing, although it is a little on the small side.

For me one of the main gripes in the cabin was reading the speedometer on very sunny days because the figures are in white on a pale grey background. Fine during normal conditions but problematical on very bright days because of the lack of contrast.

There are four driving modes; Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock. Auto keeps the Vitara in two-wheel-drive for economy while Sport sends power to the rear wheels as well when needed. In Snow and Lock there is permanent four-wheel-drive for more demanding conditions.

The Vitara has always been a sensible crossover for a lot of families, offering all the comforts of a hatchback with the practicalities and high stance of a well equipped 4x4. Now in full hybrid form it also offers better economy and the satisfaction of knowing you are driving something which is environmentally friendly.

FAST FACTS

Suzuki Vitara SZ5 Allgrip Full Hybrid

Price:£29,299

Mechanical: 115bhp from 1,462cc, 4cyl petrol engine plus an electric motor driving all wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 111 mph

0-62mph: 13.5 secs

Combined MPG: 48.4

Insurance Group: 16

C02 emissions: 132 g/km

Bik rating: 31%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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