Suzuki’s Vitara range has been given some extra spice with the addition of the 1.4 litre BoosterJet turbocharged engine. Available in AllGrip 4WD or front wheel 2WD, it also comes in a range of eye catching colours and subtle differences to the standard Vitara range. A Wheel Thing gets intimate with a fiery metallic orange and black 2WD version of the Suzuki Vitara Turbo.Think 1.4L engines and you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’d be less pull than oil on an iceblock. Instead there’s a surprisingly useful 220 torques from the BoosterJet powerplant, plus 103 kilowatts. You get a choice of one automatic transmission and that’s a six speed too. It’s a mostly well sorted drivetrain however there’s a couple of bumps: there is bump steer, a measure of torque steer but only if pushed, the transmission drops down gears too readily when descending hills and there is some indecision when it comes to finding a gear on upshifts on certain throttle settings.
When everything works together, it’s a smooth and linear acceleration, typical of turbo engines and the pace certain belies the engines relatively small size. However, the Vitara is not a heavy car at 1160 kilos (2WD, 1235 kg AllGrip) so it’s a fabulous torque to weight ratio. Final fuel consumption figures were 5.7 litres of 95 RON unleaded for every one hundred kilometres, from the 42 litre tank. Suzuki quotes 5.9L/100 km for the combined cycle.
From standstill and asked gently, it’ll move away quietly but there’s some hesitation. Prod a bit harder and the shifts smoothen, becoming less noticeable and the speedo dial’s travel is seen with more alacrity. The torque steer is quickly brought under control and there’s further mitigation thanks to the limpet grip of the 225/55 Continental tyres on 17 inch black painted alloys.
As a result, steering response is rapid, with a good weight and in reality, very little understeer under most driving conditions. Suspension is the tried and true combo of MacPherson struts up front and torsion beam rear. Again there’s some rear end movement on bumps and curves, but again only momentarily noticeable. But it is noticeable.Outside there’s minor but obvious changes to the trim compared to the “regular” Vitaras. There’s a different grille insert, with plenty of chrome and hexagonal print to the plastic but there’s no air intake in the grille. That’s left to a small slot at the base of the front bumper, allowing air to pass over the engine’s intercooler. There’s black shrouding along the sides which joins the black painted wheels and wraps around into a black and grey valance in the rear. There’s also a prominent, perhaps too overt, Turbo badge on the right side of the non powered tail gate plus parking sensors all around. The black roof is a $995 option, however Suzuki says 60% of the Vitaras coming to Australia will already have the black roof.
Inside it’s a mix of cloth and leather on the seats (driver and passenger non electric), flat and piano gloss black plastic on the dash, with noticeable upper console reflection into the windscreen, an aluminuim look plastic insert on the left side of the dash structure (which is an interchangeable option) and features the same Turbo badge as seen outside. Safety wise, there’s seven airbags included.There’s colour coding on the air conditioning vent surrounds and clock but disappointingly Suzuki hasn’t chosen to add some extra sparkle to the dash by placing a colour LCD info screen, instead keeping the same monochrome one as seen in other Suzuki cars. There are auto headlights as a positive, as are rainsensing wipers, but only a driver’s window Auto down as a negative. Bluetooth controls on the steering wheel are tucked away at the seven o’clock position and a push button is employed for the Start/Stop.There is the touchscreen though, mounted centrally in the dash, to add some extra colour appeal and has the four quarter home screen allowing a driver to easily access from the start the radio, satnav, app screen (with Apple CarPlay but not Android Auto) or Bluetooth menu. The satnav is simple to use but the audio completely blanks the radio when giving directions. The radio’s tuner is not as sensitive as some, with more noticeable dropout in some areas. I’d also like to see a proper centre console, not just the no elbow support/cup holder style.Rear leg and cargo space (375 litres, seats up) is fine for a four passenger setup but three in the rear would be a touch squeezy. The cargo area itself is smartly designed, with two plastic pockets bracketing the lift up shelf, which access the space saver spare. They’re just big enough for cans of liquid refreshment by the half dozen and handily stop cans of pet food rolling around too.Roadwise, it’s a competent handler, with minimal body roll, sits flat on the road and is composed over mildly unsettled surfaces if going straight ahead. The Vitara Turbo has, as mentioned, that rear end skip and is also afflicted with the same, somewhat odd to feel, shorter suspension travel crash and bang and occasionally the front end felt as if the strut towers were about to fall out after coming off the larger speed reduction humps. Otherwise, a driver can expect a well sorted ride, a quiet ride and a responsive steerer.Transmission selection for the Sports or manual mode is unusual in that there’s no left or right movement of the lever, rather a further pull back to select M, then allowing the steering column mounted paddle shifters to be employed. On the dash screen, Suzuki has elected to show, next to the ratio, a dot if the computer says it’s the right gear or an arrow for upshift. It’s different but effective.
The brakes, interestingly, seemed to have more bite once the pads had warmed up. On downhill runs on a tight and windy road, behind some gently moving traffic, the brakes were applied with just a dab on the pedal here and there. Once out of this and on a flatter road, the grip was more noticeable on the discs.
At The End Of the Drive.
Priced at $28990 plus on roads for the 2WD (and $32990 plus on roads for the AllGrip), the Vitara Turbo 2WD offers surprisingly good performance from the engine. The transmission and ride quality deduct points though, but as a package and with the fuel consumption figures being so liveable with around town, they’re minor issues.
Along with Suzuki’s three year/one hundred thousand kilometer warranty, there’s the comfort of the cabin, with supportive seating, that user friendly touchscreen and decent audio. For further details, click here: 2016 Suzuki Vitara Turbo 2WD