Just why is the Suzuki Vitara so popular in New Zealand? Mark Daniel found out as he test drove the new 2019 2WD turbo.
Anyone with an interest in off-roaders or small SUVs will know the Suzuki Jimny.
No surprise there, given it’s been around for 50 years, has evolved through three generations and has piled up sales of 2.85 million in 194 countries.
The latest, fourth-generation model retains the square body, original wheelbase and functional interior, but also has several driver support systems and the ‘must haves’ of modern motoring.
Tweaks to the body see it being 30mm shorter, 50mm taller and 45mm wider. The exterior profile has a more upright design at the A-pillars and a clamshell engine hood, both said to aid visibility; and a similar message is seen in the cut-away design at the front of the driver and passenger windows.
Inside the cabin, the dashboard is split into three levels, with simple yet informative instruments; the centre console is dominated by a 7-inch infra-red touch screen display. As you would expect, this display presents audio and navigation functions and, of course, the must-haves -- Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
The seats are 55mm taller, and are wider, with more cushioned and supportive frames; in the rear the split seats fold to a useful 1300mm wide x 980mm long load area, the seat rears covered with a plasticised material for easy cleaning.
The engine is a 4-cylinder unit of 1500cc that delivers 75kW (100hp) and 130Nm torque -- an increase on the old model; and while this may appear a moderate output, it proved to be remarkably capable during a brief off-road adventure at the media launch.
Transmission options are a 5-speed manual unit or a 4-speed auto, with a transfer case giving a genuine low range, selected by a stubby lever between the front seats.
The ladder frame chassis has two extra cross members and a robust X-member at the centre to increase torsional rigidity, and the body sits on eight rubber mounts said to enhance ride quality and comfort.
Three-link axle suspension with coil springs act on the solid axle which is upgraded to higher tensile steels.
The All-Grip Pro Drive system offers a choice of 2WD, 4WD and 4WD-Low that combines with a clever brake LSD/traction control function; this makes sure work of tricky terrain by using electronic brake control to prevent spinning wheels and redistribute torque to the wheels still on the ground. A hill hold/hill descent function prevents the vehicle from rolling back on climbs and restricts downhill speeds to 5 or 10km/h when 4WD or 4WD-low is selected.
As part of the standard package, a host of driver aids are right up there with the mainstream market: lane departure, weave alert, autonomous braking, auto headlights and six airbags.