As motor manufacturers move towards greater electrification of their offering, Suzuki has added a full hybrid technology Vitara to its range.

The new car has a 140-volt hybrid power supply, with electric vehicle (EV) mode, to sit alongside the Japanese company’s existing 48-volt mild hybrids.

I had the opportunity to try out the SUV (sports utility vehicle) for a week, including a drive that offered a variety of road conditions, and some great scenery – a 320-mile round trip to the handsome Scottish Borders town of Kelso.

Style file

The Vitara expresses Suzuki’s SUV styling heritage in a strong-looking design. The clamshell bonnet (a hallmark of Vitara models) gives the front end a look of solidity, and a trapezoid motif front bumper indicates powerful grip on the ground. Pronounced body side character-lines and bonnet-side louvres form motifs that are reminiscent of the first generation Vitara from 1988.

Suzuki’s pursuit of good aerodynamics is reflected in optimally designed bumpers, a roof line that slopes smoothly downward toward the rear, in flat underbody surfaces, and in specially shaped side mirrors based on the results of airflow analysis.

The car has an elegant front ‘face’ with an attractive grille, while rear lamps have a distinctive LED display. Wheel arch extensions with side skirts add to the look.

The inside story is one of welcoming appearance and clean design, with suede upholstery for the comfortable seats on our top-of the-range SZ5 model, which sports a double sliding panoramic sunroof, helping give the cabin an airy feeling. There are three grades in the hybrid line-up – SZ-T, SZ5 and the selectable four-wheel-drive SZ5 Allgrip.

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A generous line-up of kit includes seven airbags, LED multi-reflector headlamps for low and high beam, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, auto air conditioning and front and rear electric windows, keyless  entry and start, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, smartphone link audio and navigation system.

You will also find the likes of satnav, front and rear parking sensors, a rear parking camera, front map light, front footwell and centre console box lighting, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, automatic headlamps and power-folding heated door mirrors.

Practicality? Luggage capacity is 289 litres with the rear seat back raised, extending to 642 litres with the seat back folded. There are roof rails, 12-volt accessory sockets in the luggage area and the centre console box and cup holders and bottle holders in the cabin.

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Tech time

The car has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to an automated manual transmission known as AGS (auto gear shift). There are two selectable hybrid drive modes available – standard and eco – and the electrical power system helps the petrol engine as you first drive off and chimes in to assist with acceleration as and when required. The whole system works seamlessly. The lithium-ion battery stores electrical energy recovered from deceleration and braking and incorporates an idle-stop function.

Additionally, the hybrid system generates electricity by stopping the engine and disengaging the clutch during deceleration which expands the EV driving range.

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On the road

The Vitara is a pleasure to drive and the hybrid system works ‘behind the scenes’ as you motor along. The car responds well to all driving conditions, and the route from central Lancashire to Kelso offered a motorway haul, A-roads, country lanes and town tootling – all lapped up by the Vitara. Top speed is 111mph, with 0-62mph in 12.7 seconds, combined fuel consumption of 53mpg and 12.1g/km CO2 emissions (manufacturer’s figures).


The full hybrid technology is a welcome bonus in an accomplished, easy-to-live-with car that majors on comfort, practicality and good performance.

Price: £27,499 (OTR) Metallic paintwork extra: £535 (single tone)/£835 (dual tone)