New Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid 2022 review
It’s not the finest, most effective hybrid system, but the engineering underneath the new Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid is sound – apart from the questionable oldschool automatic gearbox, which is slow and a little ponderous despite the electrification’s helping hand. But it will help to cut your running costs slightly and is good value, while it’s roomy, and balances comfort with the right level of driving involvement.
Suzuki may have signed a technical partnership with Toyota, rebadging petrol-electric cars such as the latter’s Corolla Touring Sports estate and RAV4 models as Swace and Across respectively, but for the Vitara Full Hybrid Suzuki is going it alone.
Its range is 100 per cent electrified with every model featuring some form of electrical assistance – and replacing the automatic version of the Vitara Mild Hybrid, for this Vitara Full Hybrid Suzuki has developed its own set-up, combining a new 1.5-litre petrol engine and a 33bhp electric motor fed by a compact 0.84kWh battery for a total output of 113bhp.
It’s mated to a six-speed automated manual gearbox, which seems an odd choice and old tech in 2022, but the electric motor’s torque is said to sustain forward momentum during gear changes, smoothing them out, too.
Delve into the numbers and the Vitara Full Hybrid’s outlook shows some promise. It’s priced from £23,499 in SZ-T trim (rising to £25,499 for our top-spec two-wheel drive SZ5 model) and returning a claimed 53mpg and emitting 121g/km CO2 its figures aren’t stunning, but realistic.
Suzuki claims that compared with the MHEV auto the extra 3.5mpg equates to a real-world £10 per month fuel saving, and as the price of petrol has rocketed recently, that’s not to be sniffed at.
The electrification is still milder than some full hybrids, with the set-up limited to 140v, whereas petrol-electric compact SUVs such as the Toyota Yaris Cross can muster 580v from its tech. Combined with the small battery, it means the boost you get to reduce the load on the petrol engine is small. It’s not fast as a result, with the 0-62mph sprint taking 12.7 seconds, not helped by the transmission’s slow changes.
Rev the engine harder and the naturally aspirated unit does sound a little coarse, but take a more relaxed approach and select Eco mode and the Vitara Full Hybrid does counter this with its electrification making it more refined; below 50mph on a little throttle and flat ground, it’s actually surprising how eager the Vitara’s engine is to cut out, the car running on electricity for a still-short but fair distance given the compact battery. The regenerative braking from the tech is a welcome benefit, too.
This latest Vitara is also available with the brand’s ALLGRIP four-wheel drive system, so there’s no loss of choice or off-road ability should you wish to explore the Full Hybrid route in the range.
In the Standard driving mode, the electric motor’s assistance is noticeable, especially going up hill, but the weak link in the powertrain is the gearbox. The electric motor only just about manages to smooth out shifts, summoning up a burst of torque to keep the Vitara moving forward – and this when cruising lightly. Under hard acceleration the phenomenon is worse.
However, the Vitara Full Hybrid is otherwise solid and secure when it comes to its dynamics. Weighing 1,275kg it’s relatively light, and although it feels like an authentic SUV from behind the wheel, with a raised-up driving position, there’s not too much roll.
The steering is light and positive enough, like any Vitara, and the car feels fairly agile, together and solid. The ride is acceptable too. You notice big bumps but aren’t shocked drastically by them, while body control is on the softer side for extra comfort.
Suzuki is an engineering company and its cars tend to feel robust. The Vitara Full Hybrid is no exception, and it gives off an air of dependability, but it’s far from premium inside.
The dash design is simple and functional but could do with a little more flair; it’s basically the same as when this fourth-generation Vitara was revealed in 2015, which means the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system’s graphics and responses could be sharper.
All Full Hybrid Vitaras feature LED headlights, keyless operation, a rear camera, the aforementioned touchscreen with built-in nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (which are better choices than the standard interface), 17-inch alloys, climate control and plenty of safety tech.
Stepping up to SZ5 trim adds a panoramic roof, different suede upholstery, plus front and rear parking sensors.
While there are hard plastics in prominent places in the cabin, the Vitara feels honest, plus it does represent good value for the level of kit you get. Suzuki is offering a representative PCP deal of £279 a month based on a £5,177 deposit (plus a £2,000 customer saving) on a 48-month contract limited to 10,000 miles a year.
It is practical though, with the boxy design offering a good level of legroom in the rear and plenty of headroom, even with a panoramic roof fitted. Plus it’s easy to get in and out of. However, the 289-litre boot is a little on the small size, even for a compact SUV.
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