Story and photos by Randy S. Peregrino
DROPPING the “Grand” from its nameplate doesn’t necessarily mean it’s no longer outstanding.
That’s because the all-new Vitara’s resurgence in the local market was not only intended for the emerging vehicle segment, but also an absolute exemplification of the Japanese manufacturer’s expertise in producing compact vehicles.
Now with smaller overall dimensions compared to its predecessor, Suzuki simply reshaped the latest generation to a platform that would cater to a wider range of consumer preference.
Interestingly, despite shedding several notches from the overall dimension, the new subcompact SUV still offers the longest and widest dimension in its class with the best radius performance. Also, Suzuki claims that the features of the all-new Vitara are aimed at providing the best value in terms of design, performance and fuel efficiency. “Setting it apart from competition, the subcompact SUV allows drivers to freely express their individuality and personalize their vehicles with its wide array of colors and accessory packages,” said SPH Automobile Division General Manager Shuzo Hoshikura. Now, we are delighted to finally test for this month’s feature, the fourth-generation Vitara GLX AT clad in an exclusive two-tone Atlantis Turquoise Pearl Metallic.
In spite of its entirely new platform, the exterior appearance still corresponds to the previous generation’s design cues—only sleeker and bolder. Just like how evident the signature clamshell bonnet and fender garnish are still present. But the new bolder front-end design now gazes that “dignified and strong” impression coming from the sleeker grille and energy-saving LED headlamps with bluish projector cover, plus the trapezoidal lines at the lower panel. It also has bright and vertically positioned LED daylight running lights just beside the fog lamps.
The flanks, meantime, emphasize an emotional aura through its flowing roofline, along with “kicked-up” character line denoting flared fenders, and pressed running line insinuating ruggedness. As for the rear end, the bumper also has a bottom panel garnish complementing the fresh tail lights and profiles to imply a sturdier impact. Overall, the exclusive two-tone shade, along with the matte plastic garnish at the lowermost panels, conveys an unmistakable European-inspired persona. The athletic stance, on the other hand, is courtesy of polished 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 215/55 series rubbers.
Endowed with enhancements, likewise, is the fresh and dark-themed cabin layout. It now features a straightforward yet well-laid out with sporty trims dashboard embellished with silver finishes. The helm with embedded controls is tilt/telescopic-adjusted and offers certain extents of rake adjustments. Ideal driving position, meantime, can be achieved through fore-aft and vertical settings on the sporty leather seats with suede material, which gives that extra snug feel. Another exclusive amenity for the GLX line is the panoramic sunroof. It is fitted with two separate and functional glass panels which offer the biggest aperture in its class. But perhaps one of the all-new Vitara’s best perks is the tablet-like 10-inch capacitive touch-screen infotainment operating on Android platform. Moreover, it has connectivity functions for telephony, Bluetooth, USB, and is equipped with GPS Navi System. As for the storage bay, it boasts a 375-liter capacity at your disposal.
Another interesting conversion Suzuki made was to adapt a transverse powertrain layout, which contributed to the overall weight reduction. Letting go of the bigger displacement motors in favor of a more fuel-efficient 1.6-liter, four-cylinder with VVT mill was certainly not a step back. This new engine loves to rev if you wish to summon it for a quick spurt. The torque registry was unceasing toward the midrange while the output down low was also not bad at all. This is where you’ll appreciate the vehicle’s smaller and lighter yet rigid frame. Meanwhile, the coupled six-speed automatic transmission was also sublime as gear shifting synced well with throttle changes. Those paddle shifters also aided in maintaining engine revs in optimum range while also becoming useful on occasional engine braking. Efficiency-wise, theoretical average fuel consumption remained at more than 10 km/l throughout the test duration in mostly gridlock-stricken routes.
When it comes to the vehicle’s road manner, the overall ride quality was more composed compared to the previous Suzuki models we’ve tested. The minimal rebounds from road imperfections were felt more subdued despite the lower series tires, much more that everything else turned out smooth and steady on highways. Impressively, you won’t quite feel the vehicle’s relatively high center of gravity in every curve even at cruising speeds, whenever permitted, as body rolls were close to none. Just like the Ertiga, that slight damping rigidity sprung superb handling and control on turns. Another contributing factor was the shorter wheelbase, which provided excellent maneuverability. Steering was also superb and responsive with nice and steady stiffness as the speed goes up.
As for safety, the all-new Vitara is fortified with a lightweight impact-absorbing frame called TECT (total effective control technology) with brake pedal release system. Advanced features are also available such as electronic stability control, hill hold control, anti-lock braking system with electronic brake distribution, six-point airbag system (exclusive to the GLX model), among others. In fact, even pedestrians are protected with the front end’s impact-absorbing structures with mitigating effects. Parking was also convenient thanks to the combined sensors and reverse camera view from the large monitor.
Perhaps without the “Grand” from the nameplate would simply mean better and more real-world. The looks, driving dynamics and fuel efficiency, to name a few, are just some of the reasons that would make every drive with the all-new Vitara more delightful. Much more for the passengers, as they relish the cozy cabin with a great view of the sky, or entertaining themselves from watching media files through the large infotainment screen.
- Bold exterior design
- Two-tone color theme for GLX models
- 10-inch Android-based tablet-like infotainment system
- Panoramic sunroof
- Good steering and handling
- Less muffled engine noise inside the cabin
- No rear air-con vent
- Vehicle All-new Suzuki Vitara GLX AT
- Type Subcompact SUV/ Compact crossover SUV
- Engine 1.6-liter, inline four-cylinder, DOHC, 16 valves with VVT (Variable Valve Timing), multipoint injection, petrol fed
- Maximum power 115hp at 6,000rpm
- Maximum torque 156N-m at 4,000rpm
- Transmission Six-speed automatic
- Overall length 4,175 mm
- Overall width 1,775 mm
- Overall height 1,610 mm
- Wheelbase 2,500 mm
- Tire Tread 1,535 mm (front)/1,505 mm (rear)
- Tire size 215/55 R17
PRICE AS TESTED
- P1.098 million