February 16, 2019

Suzuki Vitara S Turbo driven and rated

2018 Suzuki Vitara S Turbo 4WD Review

Entry level SUVs are thick on the ground, so it’s important that old hands like Suzuki keep up with the crowd. Vitara has both two and four-wheel drive, manual and auto, and petrol and diesel drivetrains.


Two tone paint, red and black in our case, look great. Matched to 17” black wheels, 215/55 tyres give the exterior a bit of polish.

LED headlights give the front end a touch of unexpected luxury.

For such a small SUV, Vitara is set very high. With 185mm ground clearance and a total height of 1610mm, it is easy to step in to without having to stretch or bend.

The tailgate raises high enough for all but the tallest users.

Parking sensors all-round give the Suzuki a sense of ease when parking.

Smart entry/start is used via small rubber buttons on the front door handles, meaning the key can stay in your pocket for the duration.


The cabin is surprisingly comfortable.

There are plenty of bins, cubby holes, cup holders (2), and bottles holders (4).

There are 2 isofix, and 3 child-restraint points across the rear seats, which fold 60/40 from a single lever on the seatback on each side. It takes only a moment to achieve an almost flat rear cargo hold.

S Turbo comes with “sporty” red stitching and partial leather upholstery. The support is enough for most people, and I found particularly comfortable.

All instruments are easily useable without reaching, including the drive mode, and hill descent controls.

Steering wheel buttons are clearly laid out, as are the rest of the controls. There is both cruise control and speed limiting.

Dash trim panels can be optioned with different colours to give the cabin a personal touch.

Swivel circular vents allow air flow to be precisely directed, and is by far, the best way to handle ventilation. There is nothing worse than frozen elbows or hands.

Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is standard, and is displayed on a 7” touch screen. Touch screen LCDs have proved themselves as being the easiest interface, and one which almost anyone can use without trouble.

There is “privacy” tinted glass on all but the front windows and windscreen.

The cargo hold has an underfloor section, and includes a space saver spare tyre.

Some of the plastics feel a little cheap, but then this is a fairly cheap car. The trade-off is vast amounts of space, and great tech.

The sound from the audio system is rather good, though not outstanding.

There are power windows all round, but no power tailgate. That’s more than made up for by smart entry and start.


S Turbo has a 103kw/220Nm 1.4 tubo 4cyl petrol engine. It is coupled to a 6 speed auto, with either 2 front wheel drive, or all-wheel drive (Allgrip) with 4 modes.

It requires 95ron fuel.

Fuel figures around 6.2 are claimed, but ours were slightly higher at 7.5L/100k.

There is a 6-speed manual, a 1.6 petrol non-turbo 4 cyl, and a 1.6 turbo diesel in other models.


The steering is light.

It makes parking easy, and when coupled with sensors front and rear, city trips are dispatched with confidence.

The sensors display distance in a graphic in the centre LCD touchscreen.

Ride is excellent.

You will probably use Vitara for its high driving position around town, so, a smooth experience is important.

As you become familiar with the car, you find yourself able to throw it around like a small hatch. The handling is somewhere between SUV and sedan, with McPherson struts at the front, and a torsion beam rear end.

Vitara feels light and easy, and a real pleasure. Not class leading, but certainly among the better small SUVs.

There are 4 drive modes: Sport, Snow, Auto and Lock, and are controlled by a push/turn knob setup.


There are 7 airbags including a knee bag for the driver. Seatbelts have pretensioners and there is a suite of stability controls. These include: brake assist (ABS, EBD, ESC, and hill start assist.

Hill descent control is standard on the AllGrip models.

A high seating position gives many drivers extra confidence by improving their view of traffic.

Towing/Off Road Ability:

Towing is limited to 1200kg.

85mm ground clearance, Approach 18.2 , Ramp over 17.7 , 28.2 , makes light off-roading possible. There is hill descent and hill start electronic assistance via the ABS. (hill descent selectable via a button).


For anyone wanting more space than a sedan or hatch, but don’t want to spend too much, Vitara should be on the shopping list.

I didn’t expect to like it. I thought it would be a little too “lightweight” to be a serious contender, but as we got to know each other a little better, we became good mates.

CarPlay adds complete hands-free handling of phone/music/navigation functions while in cell range, and built in SatNav is available for use out bush if you want.

The engine is more than enough for most drivers. There is only a small turbo-lag, but that’s to be expected.

Vitara feels nippy and eager. Handling is good, especially for such a tall vehicle, and ride is excellent.

This Suzuki is perfect for a 2nd car, or for a down-sizer. For long trips, I’d prefer something with more beef.

Off-roading would be confined to lighter duties only, with the same applying to towing.

What’s good:

Looks, CarPlay, Space, economy

What’s not so good:

Some cheap plastic, feels a little old fashioned

Model: Suzuki Vitara S Turbo

Price: $34,990

Engine: 1.4 4 cyl turbo

Power: 103kw

Torque: 220Nm

Safety: 5 star ANCAP (35.79 out of 37)

CO2: 145g/k

Econ: 6.2L/100k

Fuel tank: 47L

Towing: 1200kg

Tow Ball Capacity: N/A

Servicing: 5 yrs capped price

Warranty: 3 yrs/100,000km (5yr/140,000 extended subject to conditions)

Overall Rating 81.5/100

Behind the Wheel – 8

Comfort – 8.5

Equipment – 8

Performance – 7

Ride and Handling – 9

Practicality – 9.5

Fit for Purpose – 9

Towing Ability – 6.5

Off Road Ability – 7

Value for Money – 9


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