Much to the dismay of many, Suzuki have confirmed that they will not be bringing their much-anticipated Jimny to the Irish market. A combination of supply issues and WLTP related emission woes have made it a no-go here as even UK dealers struggle to meet the demand the tiny Tonka truck has created.
We will however, be treated to an altogether much-improved version of the Vitara instead. That’s not to make it sound like a consolation prize, because the 2019 facelift is really quite impressive. The compact crossover first arrived to a much less crowded segment in 2015, but this timely update will no doubt help it compete against newer rivals such as the Volkswagen T-Roc and Kia Stonic.
Save for a few minor tweaks to bumpers and lights and a couple of new colour combinations, there has been no wild redesign in terms of exterior styling, but a new choice of engines and a better quality interior add a much needed bit of polish to what has always been a very appealing package.
The other big news is that in a very 2019 move, they’ve decided to scrap diesel altogether. The engine line-up is now a choice between the 1.0l turbocharged Boosterjet petrol also seen in the Swift and Baleno, and the pokey 140hp 1.4l which was previously only available on the top-spec model but is now on offer further down the range.
An increase in the amount of safety features available (some of which have never been seen on a Suzuki before) make the new Vitara their most technologically advanced model to date. These include some handy driver-assisting aids like lane departure warning and prevention, blind spot monitoring, and traffic sign recognition.
And it’s not just in safety kit that the Vitara has caught up with the competition. The newly refreshed interior now boasts a soft-touch dashboard, a new seat design and armrest for the driver, and a new digital colour display on the instrument cluster.
The range starts at €20,995 with the entry level SZ-4. It comes with a generous level of kit including 16 inch alloy wheels, air-con, LED lights, Cruise Control and Bluetooth phone connectivity. The mid-spec SZ-T adds 17 inch wheels, privacy glass, parking sensors, a reversing camera, SatNav, and Smartphone connectivity including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. According to Suzuki, this will be the bestselling trim level here. When paired with the 1.0l Boosterjet, it does offer exceptionally good value with a price tag of just €21,995. At the top of the range is the SZ-5 which adds further bells and whistles including a panoramic glass sunroof, suede seat fabric, automatic lights and wipers and keyless go.
We had an opportunity to take the bread and butter 1.0l SZ-T for a spin and were pleasantly surprised by the much improved ride quality and refinement. With impressive levels of torque, it feels just as effective in this incarnation as it does in the smaller Swift. Plenty of low down pulling power makes it feel quick to respond and eager to please. It’s nice and peaceful in the cabin and while the handling isn’t exactly playful, its solid stance around corners and well-judged suspension set up does make for an all-round pleasant experience behind the wheel. Ours was paired with the six-speed automatic gearbox, which was also delightfully smooth in its power delivery.
We also got a spin in the 1.4l Boosterjet which with its 140hp power output and impressive 220Nm of torque makes you wonder if anyone will miss the diesel at all. Both options also come with the option of Suzuki’s ‘AllGrip’ four wheel drive system.
The new Vitara is expected in Irish showrooms towards the end of next month. Stay tuned for a full video review and test drive when it arrives.