When it comes to efficiency, the new generation Suzuki Vitara sets a benchmark among petrol-engined four wheel drive SUVs available in New Zealand.
The five-door newcomer comes up trumps in thrifty fuel economy and also in producing a low level of emissions.
Suzuki’s ALLGRIP four wheel drive system enables CO2 emissions that are remarkably low for an all-wheel drive family car.
Matched to an efficient 1.6 litre engine and six-speed automatic transmission, the Vitara emits 131 grams/km of CO2. It also uses only marginally more fuel than the manual transmission Vitara.
In an independent test over rural roads in Northland, a new Vitara all-wheel drive with manual transmission achieved 4.5 litres/100 kilometres, a remarkable 62.8 miles per gallon. The car was driven by Auckland motoring journalist Donn Anderson who has a long time reputation for fuel economy driving in both New Zealand and the UK.
The result meant the Suzuki could run close to 1,000 kilometres on a single tank of fuel. Anderson was able to comfortably better the 5.1 litres/100 km (55.4 mpg) target which is the official factory extra-urban or open road figure for the Vitara.
In the factory fuel test for the combined (urban and open road) cycle, the Vitara averages 5.8 litres/100 km (48.7 mpg) with the manual gearbox and 6.0 litres/100 km (47.1 mpg) when fitted with the automatic transmission. The range-topping Vitara AWD ALLGRIP automatic achieves 6.3 litres/100 km (44.8 mpg).
“Remarkably, according to the factory, I could have done even better with a two wheel drive Vitara which is 85 kgs lighter and has slightly less gear friction,” said Anderson. “There is a great incentive to opt for the all-wheel drive Vitara as it is only 3 percent less economical than the two wheel drive version in the urban cycle fuel test. So there is no great penalty for the added versatility and safety of 4WD.”
“Nor is the automatic Vitara unkind to the environment,” he said. “Its CO2 emissions are only fractionally inferior to the manual model - a mere 4 grams/km higher, in fact.”
The Vitara’s low CO2 emissions are due in part to the use of high tensile steel and other weight saving measures in the body.
“This latest Suzuki also highlights the advances in technology,” said Anderson. “Significantly, it weighs 27 per cent less than the older Grand Vitara model and is a remarkable 45 per cent more economical.”
Anderson said he was seeking optimum economy and keeping strictly to speed limits on quiet country roads and that many drivers might find it difficult to replicate such a result. However, this in no way detracted from the Vitara’s excellent low fuel consumption in everyday use which drivers should be able to achieve.
“Despite a higher centre of gravity than conventional hatchbacks, the new Vitara has great road ability and is extremely quiet and refined at open road speeds,” he said. “At the same time it is convenient and easy to use in urban and city locations.”
The level of standard equipment was nothing if not impressive, especially the LTD’s sunroof that consists of two individually sliding glass panels extending over the front and rear seats. Anderson believed this feature would have particular appeal to New Zealanders who like fresh air and a light, airy cabin. When the sunroof is closed, the glass panels have a combined length of 1,000 mm, and when open has a length of 560 mm.
“Vitara’s package includes features usually only seen on premium luxury models, yet it is an honest, affordable, hard-wearing SUV that is ideally sized for most motorists and families,” he said.
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