Suzuki Vitara RT-X 2015 : Review & Road Test
Review by Michael Tancredi - 2 February 2016
Suzuki have a well recognised and respected history of producing sturdy, no-nonsense, practical vehicles that can be driven over just about any terrain. The Vitara pedigree can be traced back as far as 1988 and has been known in different parts of the world and in different guises. It has come a long way from the early solid, rugged, pressed-metal, boxy look to a much more sleek, classy, aerodynamic modern SUV.
Smaller than its Grand Vitara cousin, with less muscle and at a lover price, the recent release of the new 4th generation Vitara is available in RT-S 2WD and the, top of the range, RT-X 4WD models.
The Vitara RT-X is a compact SUV that offers a range of features, produces nifty performance, is high in safety and good looks, but, with an approximate $10,000 differential in price between it and the Vitara RT-S, it maybe at the top end of the price range for a compact SUV.
We had the pleasure of driving RT-X recently and found it to be a real pleasure and fun to drive.
We drove the Vitara RT-X automatic and found it to be a very comfortable cars to drive. It delivered a smooth, quiet and fun driving experience. We had a good sense of the road surface up through the steering and it was responsive yet provided firm handling. The steering wheel was comfortable to hold, felt good and was well shaped. The RT-X was very manoeuvrable through turns and when negotiating tight parking spots.
We took the Vitara over all types of road surfaces: freeways, suburban streets and up and down winding country roads. We drove over sealed and unsealed roads under different conditions. The suspension system (MacPherson-strut front; torsion-beam rear) handles all the bounces and bumps extremely well and made it a smooth driving experience. The Suzuki RT-X incorporates their AllGrip system and under normal driving conditions the Auto mode is engaged which provides 2WD by default but switches to 4WD if it detects loss of traction.
Acceleration was reasonable when pulling away from a standing position and had enough in reserve to provide that additional acceleration response times when needed. While not excellent, we were able to extract sufficient acceleration when travelling 60 to 80kph to overtake easily but at increasing speeds we found we needed to allow some additional build up in momentum. The AllGrip system in Snow or Sport mode (both engage 4WD) provides additional grip under tricky situations like in snow or mud or when bogged. The Sport mode provides a more responsive feel and a more engaging experience when accelerating and cornering. So for the extra "kick" engage Sport.
The 6-speed automatic shifted smoothly through the gears (both up and down the range) although with a tiny lag. we found the shifter paddles a boon, particularly when needing to drop a gear of two when negotiating a hill or long gradual ascent or if wanting to extract a little more performance and responsiveness.
The vehicle performed extremely well under hard braking at various speeds. When braking hard, under all road conditions and regardless of road surface, the all around discs (ventilated front / solid rear) pulled the vehicle up beautifully. The tyres gripped the road well and the vehicle held a straight line.
Vision ahead through the large windscreen was clear and unobstructed by the bonnet.
Cabin noise was minimal at suburban speeds. One could easily conduct a conversation, listen to relaxing music or talk back radio without either raising your voice or needing to turn up the volume too high. The noise levels in the cabin were still low at highway/freeway speeds. The Australian Government's Green Vehicle Guide, quotes the noise levels as being 78.00 dBA @ 3750 rpm. Worksafe Australia in their National Code of Practice for Noise Management & Protection of Hearing at Work 2009 (Appendix 2) define between 50-60 dB(A) as Conversational Speech and between 70-80 dB(A) as Kerbside of a busy road.
The Suzuki Vitara RT-X comes with a 1.6L, 4-Cylinder, 16 Valve DOHC, petrol engine with variable valve timing (VVT). It has a power output of 86kW @ 6000rpm and generates torque of 156Nm @ 4400rpm. It is claimed to improve performance, fuel economy and lower emissions. The M16A engine has been around for sometime and is known for it's reliability and performance.
The RT-X comes standard with a 6-speed automatic transmission. To beef up performance and give the vehicles somewhat of a "sporty" feel the automatic comes with paddle shifters. In addition the RT-X incorporates their AllGrip system where the driver can select from four drive modes, Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock.
Both the engine and transmission have been of long standing and has weathered the test of time over numerous years.
The stated average fuel consumption for the Vitara RT-X under controlled conditions is 6.3 L/100km. According to the on-board computer we clocked it at 6.7L/100km. We drove is over suburban streets, highways and freeways although we didn't take it off-road. The consumption we obtained was excellent and very close to that obtained under controlled conditions.
CO2 claimed emission under a variety of driving conditions is 147g/km. As a guide, the Australian national average carbon emissions from new passenger and light commercial vehicles was 199g/km [Carbon Dioxide Emissions from New Australian Vehicles 2012 : Information Paper March 2013]. For those conscious of the CO2 footprint for the Vitara RT-X comes in well under the standard.
Recommended fuel is 91 RON.
The Suzuki Vitara is a smart looking compact SUV with a clean aerodynamic flow accentuated by the bold flowing swage line from front guard to rear tail light. The roof line is slight tapered to the rear and is capped off by a tiny rear spoiler. The Vitara sits relatively high with the bottom edge and wheel arches lined with a chip resistant stone guard.
The solid looking coloured grill layout on the RT-X with the bold Suzuki logo is something different. It set's off the large wrap around halogen headlights. All models come standard with front fog lights and daytime running lights. Rear lights are large, bold and wrap to the sides.
The Vitara is one solid colour (including handles and mirrors) except for the strip around the wheel arches, under carriage, rear bumper and lower front grill area. It is available in three solid colours and three colours in combination with a black roof (two-tone). Pearl Metallic and Metallic paint options are available but attracted an additional charge.
The Vitara sits on 17", 5 spoked polished alloy wheels surrounded in 215/55R17 tyres tyres. It measures 4,175mm long, stands 1,610mm high (with a ground clearance of 185mm) and is 1,775mm (excluding mirrors). It has a wheel base of 2,500mm and a turning circle of 10.4 metres.
Silver roof rails are standard across the range and the RT-X comes standard with a large panoramic sunroof.
The Suzuki Vitara is yet to be awarded an ANCAP rating.
Standard with the Vitara are: driver and front passenger airbags, side impact airbags for driver and front passenger, front and rear curtain airbags and drivers knee airbag.
Other standard safety features include:
- anti-lock braking system (ABS) with;
- electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD); which applies varying braking pressure to each wheel so that the maximum stopping power can be achieved while maintaining control of the vehicle;
- electronic stability control (ESC); which improves a vehicle's stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction (skidding) by detecting loss of steering control by automatically applying the brakes to wheels individually;
- hill hold control (HHC); which holds the vehicle in a stationary position on an incline for a number of seconds; and,
- hill descent control (HDC); which automatically applies the brakes on a steep incline when descending.
The Vitara RT-X includes front (4) and rear (4) acoustic parking sensors and rear view reversing camera.
The Vitara RT-X is a roomy enough vehicle with a fair degree of space to comfortably seat four people, and five in a squeeze. Having said that, the leg and head room for rear seat passengers is sufficient with the front seats set for a average sized adult. Of course, the further the front seats are set back the tighter the rear leg room becomes. Rear passengers have a good view forward and their is no sense of feeling enclosed and the panoramic sunroof opens up the visual space and increases the perception of roominess enormously.
The all black interior, with leather/suede seats is smart but the all hard plastic finish for most surfaces does look a tad Spartan and tacky.
The driver is in easy reach of all controls and had good line of sight to all instrumentation. The dash instrumentation was analogue comprising two circular dials; the speedometer and tachometer, incorporating the temperature and petrol gauges respectively. Separating the two dials is a square digital screen to display the on-board computer information.
Set into the centre console is a good sized multi-media touch screen from which you can manage the sound and satellite navigation systems. The colour navigation system comes standard across the range and well laid out, easy to read and relatively easy to program. The display was visually attractive and used an easy to read combination of colours to differentiate streets and the voice output was clear, concise and easy to understand and follow. The screen proved difficult to see at times depending of the position of the sun.
The entertainment system powered the AM/FM radio and could handle input from a single CD, USB and Bluetooth®. Output was via a four speaker plus two tweeter system located throughout the cabin. The sound output and the tonal range was good and sound was delivered clearly across all volumes settings. The entertainment system also incorporates the MirrorLink system which we found a tad confusing to use and requires a compatible phone (not all phones work) plugged in via a cable.
The steering wheel housed the volume / channel / device selection and cruise / limiter controls. All were easy to use and intuitive to use and button operated. The RT-X incorporates a convenient keyless push-start system.
A basic climate control system provided good volumes of air, ran relatively quietly (depending on fan speed setting) and had a good range between cold and hot. Heating or cooling kicked in relatively quickly.
There is more than ample storage nooks and crannies for anything from maps, papers, books, bottle and all other paraphernalia that collects in a vehicle over the years. Interestingly.
The analogue clock above the touch screen was a bit of a hark back to a by-gone era. If a clock is to be made available why not a digital one?
The rear cargo area can hold up to up to 375 litres but can be more than doubled with the rear seat down. The rear seat can be configured for different loads with its 60/40 split.
The Suzuki Vitara has come a long long way since first hitting the roads several decades ago. This fourth generation RT-X is sleeker, cleaner and much more sophisticated. It's a neat compact SUV, runs well, drives well, is safe, offers a range of "luxury" features and is economical and environmentally friendly.
It is priced at the high end of the compact SUV range but it does offer more features than the Vitara RT-S. However, whether that is enough to warrant the approximate $10,000 price differential, is a moot point.
* Prices are manufacturer list prices only, for the drive away price please contact your local authorised Suzuki dealer.
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