Driven - November 2015

The new Suzuki Vitara: It’s back.

Little brother vs. Big Brother: The new Suzuki Vitara.

Being the older brother is what I do best. Growing up, I always got things first between my three siblings. I got to decide what we watched on holiday by “booking” the DSTV as well as the Television for the day. I also bullied my siblings into doing what I wanted by threating to expose their petty secrets to our parents. It’s safe to say; I had this under control. Yes, there were/are challenges, but in my mind, the pros far outweigh the cons. My siblings were known as “Richard’s brother” or “Richard’s sisters”, what a great title to have.

Fast forward the to the Launch of the all new Suzuki Vitara that we at TheMotorist were invited to, and my hard earned spot at the top of the sibling podium was occupied. This was done by non-other than my “little” brother, Francisco, the other half of our magazine. It all started when I met the other journalists also attending the launch. “You are Francisco’s brother aren’t you? You look just like him.” Correction, he looks like me, I’m the original. The feeling of annoyance lurked deep inside me until the sensational looking little SUV was introduced to us. It looked better in the flesh than on the promotional video they showed us.

Now that I was distracted by the car, I started to enjoy my day in beautiful George and Knysna, not worried that I was nameless, just my sibling’s brother. The day began with a drive from the venue in George,  and up the beautiful mountain passes in the surrounding areas. My first impressions in the new Vitara were how comfortable the ride was, the seating position was perfect for a 6-foot male, and the 1.6-litre engine was surprisingly peppy. My driving partner asked me to try and not kill her, as she had previously driven with my heavy footed brother before. I reassured her that I was going to show her how the older, more mature older brother drives. On the blacktop, the new Suzuki Vitara showed off by how quiet the cabin is on the road. It’s no performance car, but for a 1.6 litre four pot, it has some vooma. It had no problem getting up top speed, and once I figured how the cruise control worked, the drive was a s pleasant as a Sunday.

When we turned off onto the gravel, that’s where the Suzuki Vitara started flexing its muscles. It took on all sorted of bumps, pot-holes and rifts on the roads with the greatest of ease. Since the cabin is well insulated, despite all the dust and muck flying about; we were able to hold a conversation without any strain to our vocal cords. Things took an interesting turn when my driving partner moved to the captain’s chair. Now from what she told me about my brother I expected an easy gravel road drive, something relaxed that would give me the chance to get more acquainted with all the toys offered in the car.

What happened next was not what Francisco’s brother expected! The Suzuki Vitara 1.6 GL+ went from a very comfortable family vehicle to a makeshift rally car. My driving partner was very comfortable behind the wheel at these speeds. Meanwhile, my right foot was looking for the imaginary brake pedal. What blew me away was how this little car was soaking all of this in. Here I thought that Suzuki had replaced the old Vitara with a compact pavement climber, but what I was seeing here made me realise that this little car would give more expensive cars a run for their money on this terrain.

Things came to a well-welcomed halt when travellers blocked the mountain pass with a blown tyre, and that’s when I requested the driver’s seats again, but at that stage, we were at the end of the pass and were back on the tarmac. The rest of the drive was as relaxed as the scenery, and our lunch in the heart of Knysna allowed me to not only take everything regarding how beautiful our surroundings were, but also to realise that we as consumers are spoilt for choice. With more and more vehicles emerging in various segments, it comes down to personal choice.

The new Vitara truly encompasses the spirit of the original compact SUV that was launched 27 years ago. Comparing the two models made reach epiphany, I am like the original Vitara since it all started with me. The original paved the way for the new fun and exciting model that came after it. The same goes with my siblings and I. As a result; this new Vitara is as good as it is because it has learned from its older sibling and taken its traits and enhanced it. It’s only fair then to pay respects to the original. I am ready to take all the credit. Sadly if you were to compare the two models back to back, the new Vitara would win the hearts of people since it’s young and hip. Poor original Vitara, you’ve done so much for this new car yet you’re now the “new Vitara’s brother”.

 

In all seriousness, though, the new Suzuki Vitara is an excellent little car in this hotly contested segment, and hopefully, more people will have an opportunity to sample it through a test drive. Hopefully, that will get people out of the psychological rut of blindly buying cars simply because of the brand behind it. Five models are available for purchase, the GL, two GL+ models, and two GLX models. All models offer different features and options. For the GL+ and the GLX, Suzuki’s AlllGrip 4×4 suspension is available, giving you more traction on the road but especially off-road. Two-tone colour combinations are also available in the GL+ and GLX as well as the choice of a 6-speed automatic gearbox for the FWD GLX. For those looking for a small, good looking and fun to drive SUV, the Vitara is an excellent choice to buy. After all, it’s based on a really good original.

Happy Motoring

Francisco’s Brother

Models and Prices:

1.6 GL      5MT:                            R239 900

1.6 GL+   5MT:                            R269 900

1.6 GL+   5MT AllGrip               R291 900

1.6 GLX   5MT AllGrip              R319 900

1.6 GLX   6AT                             R299 900