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Car Reviews / 01-18-19

2019 Suzuki Vitara GLX

Collective Value


By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Andréas N. Delos Reyes

 

I have a soft spot for the Suzuki Vitara. Back in 1995, I bought my very first car from the Pilhino Suzuki dealership off EDSA which now no longer exists. It was a two-tone 5-door 1st generation Suzuki Vitara JLX with a 4-speed automatic, in primarily green with a silver bottom half with matching painted fender flares and unique wood dashboard trim. With a rigid axle rear-wheel drive on a 2479 mm wheelbase ladder frame, MacPherson struts up front, non-ABS vented front and rear drum brakes, true 4×4, recirculating ball power-steering, a modest multi-point fuel-injected sohc 16-valve longitudinal 1589 cc engine producing 98 bhp @ 5600 rpm and 97 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm in stock form.

The acceleration from 0-100 km/h took a long 13.8 seconds with a top speed of 158 km/h. I swiftly upgraded the front and rear shocks to higher performance KYB units, installed a front tower bar to improve handling and steering feel, replaced the heavy stock wheels with lighter but wider alloys with better Bridgestone tires, installed more tenacious EBC front brake pads, installed a full exhaust system from a Suzuki Baja race tuner from headers all the way to the exhaust tip and dropped in a K&N air panel filter in the original airbox. The results improved everyday drivability. I have good memories of that Vitara, it got me to the beach when few roads existed in these areas at the time, and generally allowed me to have fun adventures.

These good memories all flooded back when I took delivery of this considerably more sophisticated all-new 4th generation Suzuki Vitara GLX test unit in Atlantis Turquoise Pearl Metallic for the exterior with the contrasting Cosmic Black Pearl Metallic roof. If I were to buy this new model, I would get it in the more audacious Horizon Orange Metallic / Superior White treatment. The 2nd generation Vitara soldiered forward with considerable upgrades to the engines, safety, equipment levels, and grew in size despite using the old ladder frame. The 3rd generation Vitara had even more upgrades that included a completely new 2639 mm wheelbase chassis (unibody construction which featured a unique built-in ladder frame) that now used independent multi-link rear suspension combined with even stronger engines that included a 231 bhp / 213 lb-ft of torque 3.2-liter V6 and a 5-speed automatic transmission while maintaining its genuine full off-road 4×4 ability and rear-wheel drive.

The all-new 4th generation Suzuki Vitara is actually smaller than the model that it replaced. It is 125 mm (4.9 in) shorter, 85 mm (3.3 in) lower, and 35 mm (1.4 in) narrower with 185mm of ground clearance. With a new crossover chassis with a 2500 mm wheelbase, the new model slots its size between the 3rd and 4th generation models with a reformatted role to adapt to the current growing market of practical and versatile compact 5-seaters. It is now a real crossover that is best described as a tall wagon without off-road traversing ability designed to tackle the concrete jungle with more fuel efficiency and improved carbon emissions. The Vitara is now primarily front-wheel driven powered by a 115bhp / 115 lb-ft of torque 1586 cc (1.6-liter) dohc 16-Valve engine with variable valve timing mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddleshifts. Luggage space is 375 liters with the rear seat in place, and 1085 liters of volume with the seats folded. There is additional cargo space found under the movable shelf/cargo floor. AWD and a more powerful 138 bhp / 162 lb-ft of torque turbocharged 1.4-liter engine is available in other markets so I hope this powertrain supported by rear-assist will eventually find their way to our market soon.

Until the MG vehicles arrived recently, the Suzuki Vitara was the most value-packed vehicle in the entire market with the very best balance of standard equipment at the most affordable price at P1,148,000.00. It is still the only vehicle at its price point to have LED headlights with automatic leveling, a large panoramic roof, cruise control, analog clock, 6-speaker 10-inch Android infotainment system with navigation, steering wheel remote controls, Bluetooth, and rear camera, parking sensors, 17-inch alloys wrapped with 215/55R17 94V Continental ContiPremiumContact5 tires, stability control, push-button ignition, smart key, automatic wipers and lights, automatic climate control, automatic dimming rearview mirror, 6 SRS airbags, 4-wheel brake discs with ABS, EBD, Hill Hold, and Brake Assist, steering wheel with both telescopic and tilt adjustment, and leather seat surfaces combined with generous amounts of pseudo-Alcantara suede fabric. The analog instruments are also well laid out combined with a central driver information screen.

The new Suzuki Vitara GLX is a very comprehensive and thoughtful 5-seater crossover. If properly motivated, it can carry enough spirited pace when desired but that isn’t its core competence. The rear torsion-beam suspension can hop around to find traction but the Vitara does ride generally well under normal conditions. The brakes are very good, more than enough to accommodate the more powerful future powerplants. In sum, in GLX form, the Suzuki Vitara is a smart purchase that will fulfill many new buyer’s dreams.

Specifications

Engine

Engine Inline-4
Displacement 1586 cc
Cylinder Head dohc 16v
Fuel Injector Multipoint Injection, VVT
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 115 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 115 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Transmission 6-speed AT

Performance

Top Speed 184 km/h (112 mph)
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 12 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 15.2 km/l

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) PhP 1,148,000.00
What's Great Excellent value, strong standard features, cruise control, panoramic roof, LED headlights, 10” infotainment system, low-key, versatile
What's Not So Abundant plastics, audio sound quality can be improved further, no rear aircon vents, hoping that the Vitara Sport model comes soon.
C! Editors Rating 9/10