2015 SUZUKI VITARA 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 - driving on road

Update 2: 16th February – 16th March 2016

Total vehicle milage to date: 6,950 | Test milage this update: 350 | Average (UK) mpg: City: 42 mpg | Motorway: 40 – 45 mpg | Mixed routes (35% A-roads, 25% motorway, 40% city): 40 – 45 mpg 

Vitara feels notably light and nimble to drive, reacts well to steering inputs, actually a really enjoyable car to drive day-to-day, all-round sensors and reverse cam make parking ridiculously easy, ALLGRIP 4WD is highly impressive

Would benefit from heated front seats, Radar Brake Support system is overly sensitive

For update #1, click here

A nasty bout of winter flu bug in the family knocked any chance of racking up some good milage on the head this month. However, the Vitara has still been used a good mix of roads, and the lower milage is also due to a good deal of city journeys, rather than motorway use, which means overall we’ve spent a good amount of time in the Suzuki anyway.

2015 SUZUKI VITARA 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 - side view

Disappointingly – in our area at least – winter never really arrived, yet again. It’s quite maddening, as I really looked forward to testing the Vitara’s ALLGRIP all-wheel-drive system on some snowy roads. However, a couple of days the temperature dropped overnight to around -6ºC, and with it came only a smattering of snow, but roads that were iced up.

6:30am starts saw the Vitara covered in a layer of hail, heavy frost and ice. Pulling the driver’s door open, sliding into the driver’s seat (which thankfully has warmer suede on the centre panels, rather than cold leather), and pushing the Suzuki’s starter button, the 4-cylinder petrol engine fires into life immediately.

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 - open door


The exterior of the glass is frozen, and like most cars the inner side instantly starts to mist heavily, so everything goes on max straight away – heat, air conditioning and recirculation. While clearing the outside of the car, the engine is left to warm, and in 10 minutes at idle there’s hot air blowing, and a toasty warm cabin to enjoy after freezing outside.

I mentioned in the previous update about just how quickly the Vitara’s engine warms into life, and on mornings where there no ice to clear but it’s still bitterly cold, the hot air blowing through after just 1.5 miles of driving is very welcome throughout these winter months. I’d still prefer the option of heated seats though, which aren’t currently available with the Vitara.

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 - air vent

Something I did note was that on a lot of cars unless the windscreen sprayers are heated, they often freeze up unless you’ve used some heavily-concentrated screen wash. In this case, in typical British fashion the cold weather hit without any real warning or sign – fairly warm the night before, literally freezing a few hours later.

With a dilution rate of winter screen wash so minute it may as well not be there, and the car’s exterior temp gauge reading well below zero, it was highly surprising that when I needed to clear the windscreen the water actually came through at the first pull of the lever. So many times in many different cars, I’ve rolled my eyes and muttered frustratingly as I’ve done the same for exactly nothing to happen, except for the wipers smearing salt and grime across the screen.

2015 SUZUKI VITARA 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 - bonnet and lights

The Suzuki Vitara has not got heated washer jets, but somehow manages to keep the water from freezing up. Perhaps everything under the bonnet is simply exceptionally well-insulated, and that as soon as the engine heats up it keeps it all warm. Either way, it’s a good ‘feature’.

Going back to the icy road conditions – which were covered with a thin layer of snow, just to make driving even more precarious – it’s a relief to have the ALLGRIP 4WD system on the car at this time of year, and it is also one of the most simple and easy systems to use too.

2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 - driving on road

There’s a dial selector, and you twist it to the left to select Snow. If the going gets tough, press the Lock button next to it. And that’s how easy it is. In the past, on older 4x4s there was often a separate lever for selecting your 4High and 4Low off-road modes, and it could easily be overwhelming to those who were caught out in bad weather, but had never used the system before.

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 - drive mode select

Do I have to put it in neutral before selecting it? What’s high and low mean? Do I select it parked or driving? Why won’t it select?? Get. Into. 4×4. You. Stupid. Thing! Crunch, griiind, crunch. I give up!

That may have been – and still is on some vehicles -an all-too-familiar, stressed, sweaty scenario echoing across the snowy hills as the weather worsened, but Suzuki has made as easy as can be, and it is no more of a hassle than, say, clicking the wiper lever on.

2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 - off road

With Snow mode selected, the Vitara provides immediate and quite unbelievable levels of traction from its all-wheel-drive system. Our other driver likened it to being so good that it makes the snowy roads seem like you’re driving on dry tarmac.

Accelerating from a standstill fairly vigorously, the Vitara shows so little loss of traction that it is negligible, and that’s on a set of standard Continental ContiEcoContact 5 summer tyres too – not all-season, not winter. If you want to see how capable the same system is on a set of proper chunky winter tyres, scroll down to Update 3 of my winter test of the Suzuki S-Cross.

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 - driving in rain

It was in fact so grippy on the slippery roads that the driver wasn’t fully sure if the roads were actually icy or not. A light press on the brake pedal proved two things: firstly, yes it was extremely slippery, and secondly, the electronic systems – ABS with EBD (electronic brakeforce distribution) made sure the Vitara brakes straight and true, rather than slewing about all over the place.

Naturally, you corner on snowy roads with caution, but the Suzuki Vitara’s ALLGRIP and ESP (electronic stability control) gives you so much more confidence than you’d have in a front or rear-driven car. If you want to see how the ALLGRIP system works, check out the videos on the Suzuki site.

Something else to mention are the LED projector headlights, which give a really crisp light that cuts superbly well through the dark mornings, giving that more confidence on the road and it also allows for a more relaxed drive too.

2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 - LED projector lights

While I’m no the positive points, the Vitara’s touchscreen system continues to impress. The menus are exceptionally easy to use, with colourful, good graphics, and there’s nothing really fiddly about any of it. Its satellite navigation provides good mapping with easily-discernible turn-offs, as well as quick re-routing if needed, and inputting the address is simplistic and there are several ways of doing so, including latitude and longitude coordinates, should a street or postcode address not be available.

The advantage of having the Suzuki on long-term test is that you start to notice more of the smaller points that are either good or need improving, that you simply don’t on a short test. There are good aspects of practicality on the Vitara, and also things that could be better thought-out.

For example, I use the Vitara for the very same everyday stuff that people do, and nipping to the shops is one of those things. On both sides of the boot there are large boxed-in storage spaces, the sides of which can be removed should you want to stow something wide. Great idea.

2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 - boot storage

But they’re also wide enough to sit a standard-sized bag of shopping in, which keeps it from flying about once you set off, and handily Suzuki have included a hook over the left one, so you can hang the heavier, larger bags that contain more delicate items. A simple thing, but very useful indeed.

Something else I find helpful is the keyless locking. On the boot lid (and front door handles) is an inconspicuous black square button – should you have your arms full of stuff but left the key fob in your pocket, a press of the square will lock the vehicle, saving you from having to put your bags down and dig around for your keys.

2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 - keyless locking

I’ve noticed that the cabin lacks a shut-able space to put spare loose change. A boring point, certainly, but it needs sorting. There’s the glovebox, but it’s not exactly practical trying to find it all when you’re at a toll booth, it’s not really good to leave it filling the cupholders either.

However, the quick and easy answer to this is to go to your Suzuki dealer, pay them £235.91 (inc. fitting) and have the optional front centre armrest fitted, which also comes with a storage space below it. Actually, you’re killing the proverbial two birds doing this, as I was going to mention that the lack of front armrest in my test car has become more apparent the more miles we put on the clock. For comfort’s sake, get one fitted folks.

Want to see what the cabin is like on video? Good news! Here’s our in-depth tour and start-up of the Vitara. 

Something that really needs improving is the Radar Brake Support (RBS) – which comes standard on the SZ5 and S models. In Suzuki’s words RDS works ‘When driving at low speeds [and above 3 mph] due to heavy traffic and such, this system detects the vehicle in front, and if it senses the possibility of a collision, it warns the driver with a buzzer sound and a notification on the multi information display.

If the probability of a collision has increased, the system activates brake assist which increases the braking force during emergency braking. If the system determines that a collision is unavoidable, it applies the brakes automatically. The system thus helps prevent collisions when the vehicle is driving at low speeds and helps reduce damage in the event of a collision.’

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 interior controls

A great bit of tech, and more peace-of-mind while you’re doing city driving. That being said, the system is overly sensitive and doesn’t seem to be as advanced as other systems when it comes to reading the road properly. The buzzer is extremely loud and annoying, and it keeps blaring out on regular occasions, which scares the life out of myself and passengers when all is quiet and I’m tootling along innocently.

It will sound and flash up the glaring warning for no apparent reason, examples of which include; driving down a street with parked cars either side, and it does it almost every time I drive down my road too. It’s also done it when I’m slowing down a little quicker than usual if a car has pulled up sharply in front, even if I’m quite obviously well on the brakes already, and it has even done it when I’ve headed towards a larger-than-usual speed bump.

2015 Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5 - grond clearance

I’ve tried it on both the ‘Near’ and ‘Far’ distance settings, but it seems to make little difference to when the buzzer shouts at me. While it’s great the Radar Brake Support system is there, Suzuki really need to recalibrate or refine the sensitivity of it.

All said though – and aside from the RDS buzzer warning – myself and the other test drivers continue to enjoy the Suzuki Vitara SZ5 petrol, and a talking point is always just how much value you get for the money with this 4WD crossover.

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.

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

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