Diesel bites the dust again as Suzuki complete shift to petrol
In focus: Suzuki Vitara
Suzuki became the latest to move away from diesel as it unveiled its revised Vitara compact Crossover recently.
It has been three-and-half years since the model was reintroduced to the market.
In that time some heavy criticism has been levied at the quality of the interior, especially the low level grade of the plastic.
In addressing that - with some, if not total success - they have also upgraded the technology and nipped and tucked the front and rear to give it a smartened-up look while adding the likes of Lane Departure Warning, road-sign recognition and so on.
The cars I drove - the 1-litre petrol 111bhp manual and 1.4-litre automatic - represented substantial improvement on inner trim though the door plastics still echoed old Vitara.
It was strange not to have a diesel to test drive but the Suzuki people told us the level of demand didn't justify having it any more especially as we face the prospect of a wider and tighter squeeze on the fuel.
One of the financial penalties of that in the case of the Vitara is that none of the two petrol-engine models has road tax lower than €370.
Be that as it may there is no taking away from the 1-litre and 1.4-litre Boosterjets and the fact that, as Suzuki claim, they are not a million miles from matching diesel on torque and power.
I drove the 1-litre manual which is a cracking little engine - and not just in the Vitara; it's excellent in the Baleno supermini too.
The 1.4-litre all-wheel-drive (for want of a better term) wasn't a patch on little brother, we felt. We were surprised the 1-litre was so sprightly as we had concerns it wouldn't be quite up to the mark compared with the 1.4. The opposite transpired to be the case.
The 1.4 All-Grip version is effectively 4x4 on demand and there are four modes you can select: Auto, Sport, Snow (!) and Lock.
Prices start at €20,995 for the 1.0 Boosterjet SZ4 5spd manual with the SZ-T 5 costing €22,995 and the SZ-T 6spd auto priced at €24,995. The 1.4 SZ-T 6spd manual kicks off at €24,495 with the SZ5 6spd from €26,495 and the SZ5 6spd auto costing €28,495.
Then there is the 1.4 SZ5 ALLGRIP 6spd manual 4x4 at €28,495 with the automatic version hitting the €29,995 mark.
The facelift/upgrade was badly needed not merely for the reasons just outlined, but also because this car segment is now crowded with far more competition than it was when the Vitara was rolled out those three-and-a-half years ago.
In fairness to Suzuki they always pack in a good deal of equipment for the price.
So standard spec includes cruise control with speed limiter, auto air con, electric windows, seven airbags, alloy wheels, USB, Bluetooth connectivity.
SZ-T adds new 17in alloys, rear privacy glass, smartphone link audio and navigation system.
And SZ5 trim adds LED projector headlights, 17in polished alloys, suede seat fabric, keyless entry with start button, traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, panoramic sunroof.
As I say, the game has moved on quickly now with so many new models on the market and so much demand for a compact SUV.
The Vitara badly needed this facelift.
I think they have just about done enough to push it a good deal higher up the shopping list.
One thing in its favour is its name. Vitara always counted for something. And after this it still does.