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Turbo sales charge for Suzuki Vitara

Boosted: Suzuki's fresh Vitara range has been given a shot in the arm with the arrival of the turbocharged version.

Suzuki's local sales hopes rest with forced-induction Suzuki Vitara small SUV

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Suzuki logo22 Apr 2016

By STUART MARTIN

SUZUKI Australia has tweaked its Vitara line-up just seven months after the launch of the reborn compact SUV, with the arrival in showrooms of a new turbocharged flagship.

The Vitara S Turbo replaces the previous range-topping RT-X and is available in two- and four-wheel drive guises, starting from $28,990 plus on-road costs for the front-drive automatic, while the 4WD S Turbo is priced from $32,990 plus on-roads.

Suzuki Australia general manager automobiles Andrew Moore told GoAuto that the arrival of the turbocharged powerplant could bring more buyers to the top-spec model.

“The S Turbo 2WD at $29,990 (driveaway pricing available until June), it’s good value for a top-spec vehicle, with the features and the engine,” he said.

“Previously there might have been people looking for a bit more performance.”

The Hungarian-built Suzuki was supply-constrained at launch in September but Mr Moore said he was confident the company has sufficient supply to prevent major stock shortages.

“What we have coming in over the next few months would see us grow our volumes.

I’d like to think that it will be a lot more popular than we are expecting but we will still be able grow sales significantly. I don’t envisage major stock shortages.”

The Vitara S Turbo carries over much from the Vitara that launched in September last year and mimmicks the now-superseded RT-X for features, but adds a chrome front grille, satin-finished exterior mirrors, red headlamp surrounds and a red-themed interior.

Suzuki's in-house-developed engine is a 1.4-litre Boosterjet direct-injection turbocharged 16-valve four-cylinder unit, producing 103kW and 220Nm of torque between 1500 and 4000rpm.

That represents an increase of 15kW and 64Nm over the existing 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated engine from the RT-S variant that carries over, which weighs 85kg less than the 2WD turbo and 160kg less than the 4WD turbo.

The extra outputs come with little difference in the claimed fuel economy figure, with the naturally aspirated 1.6-litre engine consuming 5.8 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, while the new turbocharged drivetrain drinks 5.9L/100km, although the turbo model requires 95RON premium fuel in the 47-litre fuel tank.

Suzuki says the new forced-induction powerplant has minimal turbo lag, thanks to the use of a compact turbocharger attached directly to the cylinder head, which also has the exhaust manifold incorporated into the cylinder head casting for weight savings and shorter distances between components.

While the base RT-S is offered with a five-speed manual gearbox, the S Turbo is a six-speed automatic-only proposition, offering a manual mode controlled by paddle shifters and an expanded torque converter lock-up range for better acceleration, fuel economy, and quietness, according to the Japanese car-maker.

The S Turbo utilises the brand’s four-mode all-wheel drive system, with a front-drive economy-centric Auto mode, as well as a Sport, Snow and Lock modes taking information from accelerator and steering angles sensors to adjust for the different terrain.

The new Vitara has ground clearance of 185mm, an 18.2-degree approach and 28.2-degree departure angles by comparison, the Subaru XV has 220mm of claimed ground clearance, the Mitsubishi ASX claims between 180 and 205mm, while the Mazda CX-3 has just 155mm.

Suzuki says the new flagship can still “easily negotiate deeply rutted or snow-covered roads”.

Mr Moore said he believes the Vitara's 375-litre luggage capacity stacks up well against its competition that includes Honda’s HR-V, Mazda’s CX-3, the Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan’s Qashqai and the Subaru XV, but added that an increase in awareness was critical to its success.

“With Mazda having 10 per cent market share they have traffic in showrooms. We need to get Vitara on more shopping lists – if I can get to 65 or 70 per cent of the CX-3 volume and hopefully get close to HR-V on private sales.

“The CX-3 has a boot size of a light segment car (263 litres). SUVs are sold on functional benefits, the Vitara has the bootspace, SUV stance and ground clearance would appeal to a lot of CX-3 customers, particularly with the turbo engine.”

The features list of the new flagship includes a sat-nav-equipped infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, leather seats with suede inserts and red stitching, cruise control with speed limiter, keyless entry and ignition, climate control, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, steering wheel sound system controls, LED daytime running lights, power windows and mirrors, 17-inch black alloy wheels, power-folding door mirrors and the option of two-tone exterior paint schemes including a bright red body with black roof that is specific to the S Turbo.

Safety features includes seven airbags (front airbags for the driver and passenger, driver’s knee airbag, side airbags for the driver and front passenger, left and right curtain airbags) stability control, antilock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, auto-levelling and dusk-sensing LED headlights, LED daytime running lights and automatic wipers.

2016 Suzuki Vitara pricing*
RT-S$21,990
RT-S (a)$23,990
S Turbo 2WD (a)$28,990
S Turbo 4WD (a)$32,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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