This past week we drove the GL+ 2WD manual around Johannesburg to experience city driving in the latest release from the Suzuki stable. In November last year we flew down to George to drive the newly released Vitara through the beautiful countryside of the George and Knysna variety on the “Vitara is life” launch.
The launch drive was a lot of fun and the views were spectacular but driving in the city is nothing like the winelands or the Knysna Forest and demands on the vehicle are completely different.
City driving is all about the hustle and road presence.
Does your steed demand enough respect from your fellow motorist to be given that gap in morning traffic?
The Vitara definitely cuts an attractive outline. The new shape is a lot prettier than its predecessor, in fact the design reminds one of a famous British marque. There’s no harm in bringing modern design to the compact SUV market, especially when the pricing is also remarkably more affordable.
Affordability does however mean that costs are saved on things like materials, finishes and invariably these all contribute to the overall feel of a vehicle. If luxurious finishes are your requirements, then the Vitara GL+ in this guise is not the car you’ll be shopping for. If reliable, fuel-efficient motoring is more important than keeping up with the Jones’s than perhaps the Vitara is for you.
Do you have the oomph to make that overtaking manoeuvre safely?
The 1600 cc power plant delivers 86kW which is adequate but the Vitara could really benefit from a turbo powered model in the range for our high altitude driving. At the coast the Vitara felt a lot more zippy than it did in Johannesburg. On the freeway the Vitara is an easy driving vehicle with slightly light steering but the power is readily available for overtaking from the 5 speed gearbox.
Can you stop when your new best friend (I’m judging by the exchange of hand signals in the aftermath) throws a single finger in the air, followed by hazards and a virtually instantaneous stop to pick up a passenger?
Fortunately, we didn’t have to test this but you’d want to be sure you are safe and the Vitara has a 5 star ENCAP rating. The GL+ handled itself capably through the suburbs. Land mines, or speed humps as you may know them, offer no resistance to the Vitara.
The ride is comfortable, the electric mirrors and steering wheel easily adjustable to a comfortable ride setting and all round visibility is very good. The steering is a little light for my taste but there’s not a lot of road noise and as mentioned, the bumps are negotiated easily with the 16 inch alloy wheels. The Bluetooth is identical to the Swift Sport version so you’ll get it connected with a few steps but remember to make sure you’re standing still.
The cabin is spacious and the load area also generous with fold down rear seats for extra long loads as well as an additional 100 litre storage bay under the load area. On the launch we were told you can customize the interior so if you’re in the market for a Vitara make sure you ask your local dealer about this.
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Price as tested: R 282 900 incl VAT