ALL this technology is melting my brain and putting me at risk of crashing, metaphorically and literally, I’m sure.
Instead of looking through the windscreen I find myself increasingly ferreting about with touchy swipey screens trying to find the quickest way to demist the glass. The last EV I was in saw me not only take an age to locate the climate controls, but when I did the respective icons displayed on the screen were so small I could hardly read them – it’s enough to give you Tourettes.
So when I climbed in the latest Suzuki Vitara I was overjoyed to see good old fashion knobs and buttons for many of the major functions. Heating controls? Knob. Fan? Another knob. Rear demist? A button. Touchy swipey screens? Yes, but mainly for the satnav and radio and that’s ok because generally you plumb these in before you set off. There’s even a clock, a round one with pointers and everything.
That’s not to say the Vitara is old fashioned or dated. I prefer to call it retro because that makes it sound more chic. What it does do is work, beautifully, easily, and that makes it a cinch to drive, which is good enough for me.
This particular Vitara is the latest hybrid – how very avant garde. So a 1.5 litre motor has a bit of electrical help which aids performance, reduces emissions and stretches more miles out of each gallon of liquid gold you put in the tank.
There’s not much to tell the driver it is there at all, just a little battery symbol on the dash which lights up when you lift off the power and the car regenerates leccy, otherwise it simply drives like a petrol and a pleasant one at that.
It fairs romps along the motorways, climbs hills like a good un’ and nips, tucks and dives around town, while recording mpg figures in the mid-to-high 40s.
This Vitara comes with a manual six speed box which now feels novel after weeks of driving one-speed CVT autos. Yes, there is a clutch and you have to decide when and where to use the various gears. How involving.
Ride is refined, handling safe and secure and a perfect match for Vitara’s sprightly performance so the overall package is a great drive. In strong winds and on an M6 that did a good impression of a river Vitara felt confident and sure-footed. It only aquaplaned the once and the anti-skid gubbins sorted it out so quickly, with just a blink from a warning light, that there wasn’t even time for a jolt of adrenalin to be squirted into the system.
I also love the height of the Vitara. As a small chap I really benefit from sitting imperiously in the driver’s seat surveying the world around me and somehow this helps the world fly by with journey’s end coming up surprisingly quickly and driver and passengers remaining fresh and alert – probably because they haven’t had to fight with a bucket load of unwarranted tech along the way.
Inside is bathed in light thanks to a deep waistline, loads of glass, including a panoramic sunroof. At night the cabin is nicely lit to help fatigue and the new headlights are daylight-replicating LEDs, which cut the through the murk with aplomb. Seats are large, comfortable and accommodating.
Distinctively Vitara, aesthetics are probably best described as rugged and interior proportions are generous with a large boot.
Have you seen the price of cars lately? They have really shot up. But Vitara offers everything you could possibly need from a good old fashioned workhorse at under 24K making it an exceptional buy I would say.