2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 – Long-term Test & Review – Update #3

Suzuki Vitara ALLGRIP SZ5 1.6 petrol

Update 3: 17th March – 6th May 2016

Final milage: 8,167 | Test milage this update: 1,217 | Average (UK) mpg: City: 42 mpg | Motorway: 40 – 45 mpg | Mixed routes (45% A-roads, 25% motorway, 30% city): 40 – 50 mpg 

This month the Vitara was in for its first annual service, with around 7,500 miles under its tyres. Nothing major, just an oil and oil filter change, plus an overall check-over of the brakes etc, at a cost of £123.00. There’s also the option to change the differential oil (as it’s a 4WD), which is an extra £53.00.

Suzuki Vitara ALLGRIP SZ5 1.6 petrol being serviced

While it was up on the ramps, I took the opportunity to have a good look at the Vitara’s underbelly. Interestingly, everything is tucked away and quite protected for the most part, which is good news for when – or if – you decide to take yours off-roading.

Clearly, the 4×4 side of things has had some thought put into it by Suzuki’s engineers, and it’s yet more evidence that they are serious about giving their SUVs suitable capabilities over rough terrain, which has been the case for well over four decades now with tough, competent and reliable 4x4s like the Jimny and the first-generation Vitara.

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Job done, and around the winding roads of the industrialised area where the dealership is based, I’m reminded of just how nimble the Vitara is to drive. The steering is light, and there’s decent feel through the ‘wheel too, add to that a suspension set-up that soaks up the bumps well while handling is respectable, and you have a car that’s not only really comfortable and easy to drive in the city, but one that provides a good grin-factor rating too.

I think the more time you spend with the 2015/16 Suzuki Vitara, the more you come to appreciate what a great vehicle it is. I never got bored of its exterior design, for starters. It’s slightly more interesting than other crossovers in its category – funky enough to exude some character, yet mated with a cool, contemporary design that’ll do well in the test of time, and importantly, appeal to a wide range of buyers.

There’s always a slight sense of adventure in the Vitara ALLGRIP version too. It’s worth going with a professional on an off-road course just so you appreciate what the Suzuki can really do – you’ll be amazed! That all-wheel-drive system (AWD) has a big advantage over the front-wheel-drive (FWD) version when it comes to the winter months, or should you want/need to venture off the tarmac. It’ll do way more than simply tackle a boggy farm track – the FWD would likely do that.

Some may be torn between the FWD and ALLGRIP models, so I’ll help you decide. First off, don’t let the fact it’s technically a ‘4×4’ put you off, because there’s very little overall difference in emissions or fuel economy between the two models on either the petrol or diesel Vitaras.

Suzuki Vitara ALLGRIP SZ5 off road

Secondly, you don’t need to be technically-minded at all to use the ALLGRIP system. Suzuki have been very clever making ALLGRIP so easy to use. There’s not some big scary, heavy-duty lever with strange markings on, or a dial with six different modes plus buttons that do more strange things to the car. Should the going get tough, the last thing you want to be asking yourself are questions like; “How do I use that other weird gearstick?”, “Which of all these modes do I need?”, are the last thing you need.

Instead, ALLGRIP works automatically without you even noticing, but should the weather or terrain become challenging, it’s literally a simple matter of rotating a well-marked dial in one direction, and a Snow/Mud sign pops up on the display in the driver’s binnacle, while extra icy or boggy conditions mean the push of the Lock button next to the dial.

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ALLGRIP is user-friendly as it gets folks, and the peace-of-mind that comes with such a brilliant system is, in my opinion, worth every penny extra over the FWD model. On the very last week I had the Vitara, with zero snow all winter and no warning, a big hailstorm decided to close in. Perfect – test time!

Out on the slippery hail-bound road, and it’s immediately apparent the ALLGRIP system is working great in full automatic mode, with the rear wheels kicking in whenever the fronts slipped. The roads were slick enough to warrant going into Snow & Mud mode. This means all four wheels are now driving, and the difference is astonishing! Even with the Continental ContiEcoContact summer tyres, I found I could accelerate as hard as I liked and there was such minimal slip that I may as well been driving on dry tarmac.

Suzuki Vitara ALLGRIP SZ5 test in the snow

Press the Lock button while in Snow & Mud mode, and the Vitara becomes a grip-monster, which is such an effective mode that there was no need for it at all on the thick layer of hailstones. Basically, Lock mode makes sure that torque to the front and rear wheels is almost a 50:50 allocation. It also uses the ESP (electronic stability control) so that should a wheel – or wheels – start to slip or are off the ground altogether, the brakes to it are applied the them, the engine is controlled to limit torque reduction, and therefore allowing torque to the wheels with grip. Find out more about how the Suzuki ALLGRIP 4WD system works here.

 

Next up, Suzuki have made the Vitara practical. This isn’t some cramped crossover you have to squeeze yourself, mates and any luggage into. Nope, instead Suzuki made sure the boot is large enough to hold a load of gear, there are large ‘pockets’ each side of it, a ‘hidden’ space is included.

This allows you make the boot deeper and the back row of seats fold down to open up the space fully, allowing you to stow bikes, skis, snowboards, backpacking or simply DIY stuff and over the time I’ve had the Vitara that space has come incredibly handy with trips to the dump, shops and transporting the boring large stuff like lawnmowers.

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What is the best engine for the Suzuki Vitara though? Obviously I’ve had 1.6 litre petrol manual on test with this long-termer, and I also had the 1.6 DDiS diesel on the Suzuki S-Cross long-term tester previously, and I’ve had a good amount of experience with both, so here’s the lowdown on them.

I found the 1.6 litre petrol, four-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine could do with a some extra punch, and indeed on the heavier S-Cross it’s almost underpowered. However, the petrol does suit the lighter Vitara and save for the occasional extra-steep hill or for overtaking at higher speeds you should find it good motor which is very quiet and smooth, and to be honest I found power and torque adequate for the majority of situations.

Suzuki Vitara ALLGRIP SZ5 1.6 petrol engine

However, should you be doing a lot of motorway driving or live in a particularly hilly/mountainous version, I would go for the 1.6 DDiS turbo-diesel. While power output (118bhp) is the same with both engines, the diesel puts out over twice the amount of torque (236 vs 115 lb ft), and you also get a 6-speed manual over the petrol’s five gears. If you’re wanting an automatic, the 6-speed is the same for both engines. 

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5

Fuel economy is surprisingly similar between the two engines, with highs of around 50 – 53 mpg. However, take into consideration the S-Cross 1.6 DDiS ALLGRIP I had has a kerb weight of over 200 kilos more than Vitara and that’ll impact on fuel. The Vitara with the DDiS should be better than that though, as there’s only a kerb weight difference of 99 kilos between the petrol and diesel.

I’d also say though, that you can drive the 1.6 DDiS harder and not really think about fuel economy, yet still achieve averages of 50 – 55+ mpg whereas with the 1.6 petrol you have to drive with a much lighter foot to get returns of 45 – 50 mpg.

Something else you grow to appreciate too, is the sheer equipment level you’re getting for the money with the Suzuki Vitara – it’s very much a bargain. With the Vitara, you’re spoilt in this department really, but it’s great knowing you’ve got all this gear and gadgets.

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 interior controls

Passengers just don’t expect it either, and showed surprise when they find out it has contemporary tech like adaptive cruise control, Radar Brake Support, keyless entry and start, LED projector lamps, double-sliding panoramic sunroof (brilliant feature, that), properly decent off-road capability and a 5-star Euro NCAP rating. Incredible really.

Okay, so while I genuinely love the Suzuki Vitara, and I have very much enjoyed my time with it, there are points and areas that I think need improving. As I’ve just mentioned it, I’ll start with the Radar Brake Support. While it’s a great piece of tech and will no doubt save many a shunt, the Vitara’s system is way too sensitive (no matter if it’s on either Near or Far setting), going off when driving past parked cars or driving around them, and the buzzer is so loud and jarring that it makes you properly jump when it goes off.

Suzuki Vitara ALLGRIP SZ5. A cool looking crossover

Next, the singular boot light is affixed on one side, and it’s exceptionally dim and looks like its come off a car from the Nineties. The moment you start to put big bags or shopping in, the light is blocked, and a whole load of times I was literally left in the dark when it came to emptying the boot at night. There needs to be another light at the other side, and they both need to be LED to provide cleaner, brighter light. Surely it can’t be more than a few pounds sterling to do this, Suzuki??

2016 Suzuki Vitara boot light

Something smaller, but which would be useful is at least one covered storage area for coins, keys etc. Yes, I know there’s the glove box, but stuff put in that tends to fly about noisily and get ‘lost’ somehow.

I know a few also don’t like the hard plastic trim used throughout the Vitara’s cabin. To be honest, I don’t mind it too much really, but with soft, rubberised trim becoming the norm now, it does feel perhaps a little outdated in that area. Finally, I don’t get why Suzuki aren’t offering heated seats with the Vitara, and it’s one thing throughout the winter months that I wished it had. Perhaps they feel more buyers would move away from the S-Cross (which has them) if that were the case.

Suzuki Vitara ALLGRIP SZ5. A cool looking crossover

Aside from those few points, the Suzuki Vitara is a thoroughly enjoyable crossover, and in my final month-and-a-bit with it, and as the time neared for it to be returned, there was impending sense that myself – and the other drivers of it – were going to miss the thing when it was gone (and I do).

You see, to sum things up after three months, the 2015/16 Suzuki Vitara ALLGRIP does lots of things really quite well, and as an all-rounder it’s one that should be (very) high on your list of must-test crossovers, should you be looking to buy.

Suzuki Vitara ALLGRIP SZ5 off road

Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook accounts for photos and info about the Suzuki Vitara, and what we’re using it for, between updates.

Final score and specs

Do you own an Isuzu D-Max, or have questions about this one? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below! 

2015/16 Suzuki Vitara ALLGRIP SZ5 1.6 petrol final score & specs

Exterior looks & design  8.5
Cabin space  8
Seating comfort  7.5
Cabin practicality  9
 Equipment level (SZ spec)  9
Ride quality  8
Handling  7
Power & Torque  6.5
Safety tech  9
4×4 system and ability  9
 Fuel economy  8.5
 NVH levels  7.5
Overall score  8.0 / 10 

 

Model (as tested)  2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 + Urban Pack
Standard spec includes 17″ alloy wheels, leather & Suede seats, double-sliding panoramic sunroof, automatic LED projector lamps and LED running lights, front and rear parking sensors, reverse camera, electric adjustable, heated and folding side mirrors, power windows, automatic air conditioning, rain sensing wipers, leather covered steering wheel, keyless entry and start, 7-inch touchscreen system with 3D satellite navigation (inc. traffic jam avoidance), DAB digital radio, smartphone linkup, Bluetooth, AUX and USB ports, engine auto stop-start (EASS). See full spec here
Safety Radar Brake Support, ABS with EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution) and Brake Assist, ESP (electronic stability programme), hill hold and hill descent control, adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, 7 airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioner & force limiter, foot-protecting brae & clutch pedals, ISOFIX child seat anchorages, emergency stop signal, ALLGRIP 4-wheel-drive, Euro NCAP safety rating of 5/5 stars.
Options fitted  Urban Pack: £670, Atlantis Turquoise Pearl Metallic paint: £800
Off-road information  Ground clearance: 185 mm (7.3″) | Approach angle: 18.2˚ | Departure angle: 28.2˚ | Ramp angle: 17.7˚ 
Price (inc. options)  (correct Feb. 2016) £21,099
Engine  Petrol, 1.6 litre, 4-cylinders inline, 16-valves, naturally-aspirated, Euro 6 compliant 
Power, Torque  Power: 118 bhp (120PS) @ 6,000 rpm | 111 lb ft (156Nm) @ 4,400 rpm
Drive, Gears (as tested)  ALLGRIP 4-wheel-drive | 5-speed manual
Towing capacity, boot space  Towing: Braked: 1,200 (2,645 lbs) | Unbraked: 400 kg (882 lbs) | Boot space (to lower window line): Min.: 375 litres | Max.: 710 litres
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 112 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 12.0 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: 5/5 stars
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 43.4, Extra urban: 55.4, Combined: 50.4 | CO2: 130 g/km
Weight (kerb)  1,160 kgs (2,557 lbs)
Websites  Suzuki Cars UK, Suzuki global 

Words: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies

2 responses to “2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 – Long-term Test & Review – Update #3”

  1. Stephen Bloor

    Hi

    Having driven both, which do you prefer the S Cross or the Vitara? I saw you could fit a dog cage in the S Cross, can you in the Vitara? I will be driving both on test drives soon but would appreciate your long term view. As I live in Shropshire – the county with only 10 miles of dual lane motorway and 10 miles of dual carriageway – the All Grip version will be a must.

    Cheers

    Steve

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