Nissan Qashqai 2019 review: Ti
How is the top-spec Qashqai like an obscure Iranian tribe? Why is it not really a small SUV? And can it justify its hefty price of entry? I spent a week in one to find out.
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The 1990s brought us many, many good things. Nirvana, trip-hop, some fine British comedy, Madonna's more entertaining flights of fancy... You'll notice there aren't many cars in this list.
But if you throw around cars from the period with "normal" people (not car journalists, who revel in naming obscure weirdness), it's entirely likely the Suzuki Vitara will come up. It will probably be associated with a smirk, because it became synonymous with a certain demographic and was unkindly - and unfairly, on some occasions - pilloried as a result.
It went away for a while, leaving the Grand Vitara to fly the V flag and allowed everyone else to catch up. Then, in 2015 the Vitara returned as a lighter, fitter compact SUV with a sharp new look and a long-anticipated return to the segment Suzuki that practically invented.
|Suzuki Vitara 2019: Turbo Allgrip|
|Engine Type||1.4L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
At $35,990, the Vitara Turbo Allgrip is the top of the range as it now stands. The 2019 update came with a rejig of the model names, leaving us with Vitara, Vitara Turbo and Vitara Turbo Allgrip. As you can tell by the name, the Allgrip is the only all-wheel-drive Vitara.
Standard are 17-inch wheels, a massive sunroof, 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.
The 7.0-inch touchscreen is a decent bit of hardware but the basic software is a bit on the ordinary side. Thankfully Apple CarPlay and Android are along for the ride.
The 2019 Vitara only came in for some mild fiddling, with new front and rear treatments to distinguish it from earlier models. Most noticeable are the rear lights, which are now a solid red colour. I thought they were a bit odd at first, but they've grown on me. The design is clearly inspired by the its predecessors, with a clamshell-style bonnet and quite a distinctive profile. Few in the segment are quite this SUV-looking.
Inside, it's a fairly bland if practical place. Suzuki says the dash is now a soft-touch material but I don't spend a great deal of time running my hands over the dash. It all looks perfectly fine but won't excite those used to, say, the Toyota C-HR. Like lower-spec Mazda CX-3s, it's fairly grey, apart from a textured semi-metallic panel on the passenger side. I do quite like the Alcantara trim on the seats, though.
The interior space of the Vitara reminds me of Nissan's Qashqai, in that there's quite a lot of it. The Vitara certainly doesn't look (or feel) as big, and that's part of its appeal. Front-seat passengers have tons of headroom, even with the Allgrip's sunroof (I'd prefer a proper cover on that, by the way, not a Peugeot-style translucent screen) and there are two cupholders and a phone cubby under the climate controls. There's also a new sliding armrest on the adequate centre console.
Things are a bit bleak in the back seat. No cupholders, no armrest but there are bottle holders in the doors (for a total of four). Rear-seat leg and knee room is good as you sit a fair way off the floor but you'll still have headroom even if you're 12 feet tall (okay, slight exaggeration) like m'colleague Richard Berry, who fits behind his own driving position without discomfort.
The boot is a mildly clever one, with a false floor under which you can sling valuables too big or too expensive to leave in the cabin. Volume starts at a very decent 375 litres (bested by Honda's CR-V and Nissan's Qashqai) which wallops the class sales leader CX-3's miserly boot space. Push down the rear seats and space increases to 1120 litres.
The Turbo and Turbo Allgrip both come with the 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder, a vast improvement on the gasping 1.6-litre in the base model. The smaller turbo engine has way more power at 103kW (still not a dizzying figure) and 220Nm.
The all-wheel-drive system is part-time, which means that if you press the Auto button, the Vitara will trundle along in front-wheel drive and will redistribute power based on need. It's not quick to do so, with the occasional bout of mild torque steer on a hard throttle application. You can also choose Lock, Sport and Snow. There is no centre differential for keen off-roaders.
The fuel sticker on the Allgrip's windscreen will tell you that it scored 6.2L/100km on the combined cycle. Sadly, nobody told the trip computer which was telling me I was using the kind of fuel I used when last I had an Audi R8.
I checked the trip meter (reset when I picked it up), checked the fuel gauge and realised that the 13.9L/100km readout was wildly pessimistic. I will take a pot shot and say that it used about 40 litres to cover 480km, giving me an indicative figure of 8.3L/100km.
The Vitara has six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls. The Turbo and Turbo Allgrip picked up 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.
After the little refresh, the Vitara Turbo and Turbo Allgrip scored some extra safety features.
The Vitara scored five ANCAP stars in July 2016.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Suzuki offers a three-year/100,000km warranty, but if you continue to service it at Suzuki every six months/10,000km, you're extended to five years/100,000km. That seems like a decent deal. The service pricing works out at about $472 per service, with one costing $399.
I quite liked the Vitara when I drove it a couple of years ago in diesel (RIP) and base petrol forms. I didn't really like either engine, but the Vitara rode well and felt like a big hatchback. Which is lucky, because that's exactly what Suzuki was going for.
Not much has changed in the ride and handling departments, which is A Good Thing. The Vitara's lightness could work against it, making it bouncy and silly but some sensible decisions were made long ago about the way this car should drive, and that included the phrase "like a hatchback". It means the body control is good (if not spectacular), the damping keeps things tidy, it steers well and it's even a bit of fun because of that lightness.
It also helps that the Vitara rolls on pretty good tyres, something that isn't often a consideration until you're on a set of super-hard, low-rolling-resistance tyres on a bad road and you have to tip-toe around.
The 1.4-litre turbo is infinitely better than the 1.6, with a nice chunk of torque to keep the six-speed automatic in a fairly relaxed state and keep your blood pressure down, both in the city and the highway. It's not a rocket, but it lopes along really happily.
The thing is, though, do you need to pay the few thousand dollars extra for a sunroof and all-wheel drive you may not use, or even notice? The Allgrip isn't hyper-expensive but it isn't cheap, and the plain old Turbo has all the good stuff for a few grand less.
The Vitara is as likeable and fun as I remember it, but with a bit more oomph and a more substantial feel to it than the 2016 versions. Suzuki is really good at punching above its weight and when it puts its mind to something, often gets it right. Like the Swift and the Jimny, the Vitara is the not-obvious option in its segment, and works hard to win your love.
With more safety gear, the general improvements in look and feel as well as the solid fundamentals, the updated Vitara is a fine proposition and not just a bit of nostalgia
|(base)||1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$16,600 – 23,100||2019 Suzuki Vitara 2019 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|GL (2WD) (qld)||1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$15,400 – 21,670||2019 Suzuki Vitara 2019 GL (2WD) (qld) Pricing and Specs|
|GL+||1.6L, ULP, 5 SP MAN||$15,900 – 22,110||2019 Suzuki Vitara 2019 GL+ Pricing and Specs|
|GLX (4X4)||1.6L, ULP, 6 SP AUTO||$23,400 – 31,790||2019 Suzuki Vitara 2019 GLX (4X4) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|