Since those early days Suzuki a Japanese family motor manufacturer has introduced a number of Vitara SUV models but it has just launched the daddy of them all the Vitara S which is powered by the all new 1.4-litre direct injection turbocharged petrol engine incorporating the company’s new Boosterjet technology.
The superb new engine which offers 17 per cent more power and four per cent fuel economy improvement over the 1.6-litre petrol engine is currently only available in the top Vitara S which I have just been testing but eventually it is likely to power other models.
My test car the Vitara S with standard four wheel drive and automatic transmission cost £22,249 on the road which might seem a bit pricey but it was crammed with loads of standard kit that included hill hold, differential lock and hill descent control.
Also standard was a very effective rear parking camera, LED projector headlights, DAB radio, satellite navigation, 17 inch black alloy wheels, suede seating, wheel arch extensions, keyless entry, touchscreen for audio and sat nav plus radar brake support which monitors the road ahead warning the driver of possible collisions and automatically applies the brakes if a collision is imminent.
The Suzuki S which is built in Hungary adds a more sporting and dynamic character to the Vitara range and has a stylish body that includes a rear upper spoiler and black side body mouldings giving it plenty of street appeal.
But the star feature of this car is the 138bhp 1.4-litre four cylinder turbocharged engine which has a top speed of 124mph a zero to 62mph time of 10.2 seconds emissions of 128g/km and a combined fuel consumption of 51.2mpg - the on board computer showed this to be in the low 40s which is a good return for this smooth and punchy power unit.
A very good facility is the central control unit to the left of the driver next to the manual handbrake by which it is possible to select four driving modes - Auto for economy whereby the vehicle is in two wheel drive until wheel spin is detected and 4x4 is then engaged, Sport, Snow and Lock which is useful for extricating the car from dodgy driving conditions.
There is a comfortable and roomy interior with a large boot at the rear and the instruments and controls are well designed and user friendly although I would have preferred a manual control for the radio rather than touch screen which could be a distraction.
Fortunately there was a manual control for the temperature on the air conditioning and I loved the large analogue clock in the centre of the fascia which made a welcome change from the usual digital clocks that are often very small and difficult to see.
The Vitara S is an enjoyable and impressive flagship car for the range and should have big appeal to older owners especially who can afford to have such a well equipped 4x4 that offers an ideal commanding driving position and is so easy to get into and out of.
It is also powered by that excellent economical new engine which makes this particular Vitara so desirable and which should appear in other
Suzuki cars as it adds to the company’s image that has continued to soar since that first hairdressers Vitara made its debut three decades ago.
Model: Suzuki Vitara S.
Engine: 1.4-litre turbocharged four cylinder petrol.
Transmission: Six speed automatic.
Top speed: 124mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 10.2 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 51.3mpg combined.
CO2 emmisions: 128g/km.