Turbo engine teams up with a 48v mild hybrid system for solid performance and excellent efficiency.

As you know, the term Hybrid has different meanings according to the technology applied. For the new Vitara Hybrid, we’re talking mild hybridisation, with a 48-volt battery and starter generator electrically boosting performance to massage power delivery from the 1373cc Boosterjet four. In doing so, it improves both low-speed drivability, on-the-fly acceleration and fuel economy. The 0.4kWh lithium-ion battery is replenished by energy captured under braking.

There are noteworthy engine advances to report, too, with a new IHI turbocharger and variable valve timing applied to the electronic intake and to the exhaust valves, and the fuel system now benefits from injectors with higher pressure. Compared with the Vitara’s outgoing 1.6 turbo, the new engine delivers a little less power but 15Nm more torque, enabling a 1500kg braked tow rating.

The colour palette features nine options, including the Metallic Ice Grayish Blue with Cosmic Black Pearl seen on our test car. It also sported the polished-face alloys that come with JLX trim. Two-tone paintwork adds $800 to the bill but you can save $1000 by opting for a six-speed manual gearbox, which has the potential to lower fuel consumption to a combined 5.0L/100km of 95 RON, and gives the Hybrid a starting price of $39,990. Capping the range is an AWD JLX variant which brings kerb weight up towards 1300kg and is only available with an auto. It’s priced at $44,990.

The basic specification of each Hybrid model is very good with 17-inch alloys, disc brakes all round, seven airbags, adaptive cruise, reversing camera and rear cross-traffic alert. Steering and body control are acceptable rather than brilliant and the level of cabin isolation reflects this car’s price point. Cars destined for NZ are actually built in Hungary (hence indicators on the left) so they meet stringent European safety standards but the driver assistance systems are not intrusive, only wresting control of the steering wheel when necessary. Tyre pressure monitoring is a useful inclusion.

The JLX cabin is functional rather than upmarket with suede and synthetic leather upholstery adding to the ambience. Hard plastics abound and the metal-effect panel across the dashboard looks and feels cheap and is too reflective even in dull light. The central touchscreen has capability for Android Auto and Apple Carplay. The exterior design is all very familiar. Giving the Vitara a fresher look are the chrome grille and front bumper garnishes, and silver roof rails.

Overall the Vitara Hybrid appeals as a timely and right-priced addition to the Suzuki range and it offers particularly good value when Clean Car discounts are applied. And the option of a manual gearbox in a turbocharged hybrid may prove intriguing for some.


ENGINE 1373cc 4-cyl turbo

POWER 95kW @ 5500rpm

TORQUE 235Nm @ 2000-3000rpm

TRANSMISSION Six-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN Front-wheel drive

LENGTH 4.17m

WEIGHT 1230kg

WHEELS 17-inch alloy

TYRES 215/55 R17

0-100km/h 9.5 secs

FUEL CLAIM 5.6L/100km

PRICE from $40,990



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