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Suzuki Vitara 2019 review: Turbo

EXPERT RATING
7.1
Australians love their Suzukis with a strange and particular passion, and one of our market favourites, along with the joyous Swift, has long been the Suzuki Vitara. So is the latest and greatest Turbo variant worthy of the adoration, and the name?

Australia holds a special place in its heart for Suzuki. We haven't always loved all the cars, but the ones we do, we really love them. Swift, Ignis and Vitara, we absolutely adore to bits, and have done for decades. Actual decades.

One of the reasons we like these Suzukis is that they punch above their weight and do it clothed in cheeky, individual garb - none of the cars we've taken to heart have looked like anything but a Suzuki. The Vitara is perhaps the most famous and well-loved and when it returned in 2015, Australians were keen.

Three Vitaras now make up the small SUV range from Suzuki. I've driven all three in the space of a month and we've kept the best till last; the mid-spec Turbo.

Suzuki Vitara 2019: TURBO (2WD)
Safety rating
Engine Type1.4L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$30,990

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The MY19 model re-organisation of the Suzuki Vitara range means that the Turbo is the middle, at $29,990, but quite a step up from the base model with its naturally aspirated 1.6-litre engine. It's also significantly cheaper than the Allgrip I reviewed recently.

Standard are 17-inch wheels, Alcantara and fake-leather trim, six-speaker stereo, auto wipers and headlights, climate control, adaptive cruise, heated and folding rear vision mirrors, LED headlights, keyless entry and start, hill-descent control, (ill-fitting) sunglasses holder, sat nav and a space-saver spare.

  • Inside the cabin is a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Inside the cabin is a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
  • The Vitara Turbo wears 17-inch alloy wheels. The Vitara Turbo wears 17-inch alloy wheels.
  • Underneath the boot floor is a space-saver spare. Underneath the boot floor is a space-saver spare.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make a very welcome appearance on the 7.0-inch touchscreen, which is soldiering on after a few years in Suzuki dashboards.

2019 Suzuki Vitara

Explore the 2019 Suzuki Vitara range

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The Vitara wears its SUV heritage proudly, with a blocky, 8-bit aesthetic I'm quite partial to it, but not everybody I've spoken to is. That's okay, the clamshell bonnet is one of those cool design things that most people don't care about until you point it out.

The 2019 update left the styling mostly alone, with just a mild bumper-and-grille change and solid red rear-light clusters that took some getting used to, yet added a bit more '80s arcade-game cred.

The Vitara wears its SUV heritage proudly, with a blocky 8-bit aesthetic. The Vitara wears its SUV heritage proudly, with a blocky 8-bit aesthetic.

The cabin is entirely conventional and, again, in 2019, has had little done to it. Suzuki says the the dash is less hard and that's fine, if not especially important. The diamond shapes in the Alcantara-trimmed seats are classy, though. It's an honest cabin that doesn't try to do anything fancy.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The Vitara's cabin is very spacious, especially given its modest external footprint. It's amazing how much space you can liberate when you've got a high roof and you can lift the rear seats for a more natural seating position.

Front seat passengers have plenty of headroom and without the Allgrip's sunroof, it's quite lofty. You also have two cupholders and a space for your phone under the climate-control switches. There's also a new sliding armrest, which doubles as a cover for a storage bin.

Front seat passengers have plenty of headroom. Front seat passengers have plenty of headroom.

The back seat is fairly sparse. Bereft of cupholders and an armrest, you'll be holding your own coffees back there. And keeping your inboard elbows to yourself. Rear leg and knee room are excellent for a car this size, with plenty of space for me at 180cm and even for our resident tattooed totem pole, Richard Berry, who stands another 11cm taller.

The back seat is fairly sparse, but rear leg and knee room are excellent. The back seat is fairly sparse, but rear leg and knee room are excellent.

Each door has a bottle holder for a total of four. 

The boot is one of those split-level arrangements, with a false floor under which you can hide valuables or, given the lifestyle vibe, wet towels/muddy boots/sandy boogie boards. You don't know how useful that is until you use it, let me tell you.

Cargo space starts at a very useful 375 litres (beaten only by the Honda HR-V and the Nissan Qashqai) and is way above the tiny hatchback boot of the CX-3's. Fold the rear seats and space increases to 1120 litres. 

  • With the rear seats up, boot space is rated at 375 litres. With the rear seats up, boot space is rated at 375 litres.
  • Following the rear seats down results in cargo space growing to 1120 litres. Following the rear seats down results in cargo space growing to 1120 litres.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

As with the Allgrip, the Turbo ships from Hungary with the 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder Boosterjet engine, a vast improvement on the 1.6-litre in the base model. You have way more power here, with 103kW and a comparatively muscular 220Nm.

The turbo four-cylinder engine makes 103kW/220Nm. The turbo four-cylinder engine makes 103kW/220Nm.

The front wheels get their twist via a six-speed automatic, which is shared with whole range.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The official combined-cycle figure for the Vitara Turbo is 5.9L/100km, which is within a tenth of the much less powerful base model. Unencumbered with even a simple stop-start system to reduce fuel usage, we've consistently found the turbo engine will deliver a fuel figure in the low-eights, with the two-wheel-drive Turbo returning 8.1L/100km.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

The Vitara Turbo has six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls.

As part of the 2019 update, the turbo-engined cars added to the spec sheet forward AEB, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise, blind-spot monitoring, weaving alert and reverse cross traffic alert.

You also get three top-tether anchor points and two ISOFIX points.

The Vitara scored five ANCAP stars in July 2016.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Suzuki offers a three-year/100,000km warranty, but that's just the start. If you continue to service it at Suzuki every six months/10,000km, the warranty will go for as long as five years/100,000km. 

Suzuki's servicing regime works out at about $472 per year - most services are $175, with a couple of services at $359 and $399.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

If you've stepped out of the base model and into the Turbo, as I did, it's like night and day. While the base version has a good equipment level, it's badly let down by the underpowered 1.6-litre engine. The turbo 1.4 is so much better. Smooth and torquey, it makes much lighter work of the 1100kg-plus car and gives the automatic transmission a lot more to work with.

While it's a lot better than the 1.6, it loses almost nothing to the more expensive Allgrip. As it's front-wheel drive its off-road capability is rather curtailed, but the bonus is you can save a lot of money and some headroom if you don't need part-time all-wheel drive.

The Turbo drives as well as the rest of them and rides as well, too. It handles very securely on a decent set of tyres. The ride on this car is one of the most surprising things about it, with a smooth, easygoing gait. Cars as light as the Vitara can get a little bit bouncy and out of control, particularly on broken urban surfaces, but not this one.

The turbo model is so much better than the base Vitara. The turbo model is so much better than the base Vitara.

While the body can roll around a bit in harder cornering, it's never chuck-inducing and, if you're a driver who likes a bit of fun, the Vitara delivers, with light steering and a reasonably eager chassis. It's all bit unexpected, even if you've driven one before.

You do sit ridiculously high in the driver's seat, something my wife mentioned. Normally she sits a little higher than me but complained the seat must be stuck. Nope, that's just how it is. You sit really high and, for some, that's uncomfortable.

Verdict

My eyes always light up when my inbox dings with news of a Vitara. It's a refreshing, honest car that does its job really well. While I sometimes struggle with the pricing, the 2019 re-jig has brought a few bits and pieces - like the cool Alcantara seat trim - and an uplift in quality over the older cars. Its interior space is competitive with the best in the class, as are the ride and handling.

The Vitara Turbo is easily the best of the range's trio, unless you really need the all-wheel drive of the Allgrip. The Turbo takes all the good bits of the base model, eliminates its biggest problem (the engine) and adds a whole heap of safety gear. 

Is the Turbo the best of the Vitara range? Or are you quite happy with the base model? Let us know in the comments.

Pricing Guides

$28,990
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$21,990
Highest Price
$35,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $23,990 2019 Suzuki Vitara 2019 (base) Pricing and Specs
GL (2WD) (QLD) 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $22,490 2019 Suzuki Vitara 2019 GL (2WD) (QLD) Pricing and Specs
GL+ 1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $22,990 2019 Suzuki Vitara 2019 GL+ Pricing and Specs
GLX (4x4) 1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO $32,990 2019 Suzuki Vitara 2019 GLX (4x4) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.1
Price and features7
Design7
Practicality7
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Safety7
Ownership8
Driving7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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