Just why is the Suzuki Vitara so popular in New Zealand? Mark Daniel found out as he test drove the new 2019 2WD turbo.
Drawing on a pedigree that saw the Sportage become the first compact SUV on its introduction in 1996, the outgoing model went on to sell 1.6 million vehicles in 2010-2015.
The fourth-generation 2016 model is bigger, more sophisticated and offers higher levels of comfort and technology. Its new look has lots more 'presence' -- the headlights are located higher and combine with the 'tiger-nose' grille to create a distinctive frontal aspect. A redesign sees a 30mm increase in wheelbase, an overall lengthening of the vehicle by 40mm and a swept back rear spoiler which reduces overall drag, but more importantly results in more room for passengers and luggage. Inside, high quality, soft touch materials are used throughout, and leather is the favoured upholstery on all models except the entry level LX version.
For power, the choice is between three engines: a 2L petrol that puts out 114kW / 192Nm torque, a 2.4L delivering 135Kw / 237Nm, and a 2L diesel developing 136kW and a gnarly 400Nm.
A redesigned fully independent suspension system and electric power steering are tuned specifically for NZ conditions, refining the handling, ride comfort and stability. These and the interior improvements greatly reduce noise and vibrations.
As with any new model introduction, safety is to the forefront, seen in a raft of model dependent inclusions such as blind spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert and a forward collision warning system. Then there is satellite navigation, a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, a panoramic roof, Xenon HID headlights and a hands-free powered tailgate function.
These features bring the Kia Sportage bang up to date and will find favour with those looking for a fully specified compact SUV.