Suzuki’s iconic SUV returns

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By Kap Maceda Aguila

THE million-peso mark has traditionally been an important reference point for sellers — particularly in an auto industry still seen to be price sensitive. South of that mark, the perceived and practicable accessibility of a vehicle exponentially increases. Yet, posited within this context, it is also an accepted irony that the average Filipino seems to prefer SUVs — which are expected to breach that price point and psychic barrier.

Suzuki is letting buyers have their cake and eat it, too. The famous SUV nameplate first unveiled in 1988 is back with an all-new iteration. The fourth generation — which was actually debuted globally at the Paris Motor Show in 2014 — is said to be largest in its class, while offering the “best value in terms of design, performance, and fuel efficiency,” according to Suzuki Philippines automobile division GM Shuzo Hoshikura in a statement. The executive added that the Vitara is also customizable, and carries a “wide array of colors and accessory packages.”

The SUV is 1,775 millimeters wide, 1,610 millimeters tall and 4,175 millimeters long — with a minimum ground clearance of 185 millimeters — while boasting the lightest curb weight in its category. Under the hood is a 1.6-liter engine delivering 115 hp at 6,000 rpm and 156 Nm at 4,400 rpm. Mated to Suzuki’s newly developed six-speed A/T system, the power plant promises improved response and fuel economy.

Suzuki will initially sell three variants (all 4×2 models) which, as stated, will start at a price under P1 million. The GL+ gets a tag of P938,000, while the top variant GLX costs P1.048 million. The GL is yet to be priced as of press time.

Designers have exerted an effort to be true to the Vitara’s original styling, such as in the familiar clamshell bonnet which makes a welcome return. Additionally, “the side press lines and smooth roofline suggest a youthful, rugged look, and strong aerodynamic performance, respectively, complemented by the rear that gives off a stable look,” stressed the car maker.

Other features include daytime running lamps with vertically placed LEDs (standard in the GLX), and projector halogen head lamps giving ample light distribution even in low beam setting. The GLX is equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, the GL+ has 16-inch steel wheels with full caps.

Inside, the Vitara features a stylish, legible instrument panel with a black and matte silver theme. Circular air vents fringe an analog clock. The GLX gets a combination of leather and suede-type fabric for its seats, and a panoramic sunroof designed with two glass panels that can both slide open. All variants have a paddle shifter and audio control on the steering wheel. The GLX and GL+ feature a footwell lamp and keyless push-start system.

Meanwhile, a new infotainment system offers hands-free connectivity, navigation assistance, Bluetooth tethering, and a USB port. The GLX variant serves up Wi-Fi support, while a MirrorLink function can pair a smart phone with the SUV’s Android-based system. The GLX is bestowed a 10-inch screen, while GL+ and GL variants get a seven-inch display. Up to 710 liters of luggage space is available in the Vitara with the rear seats folded.

GLX variants are available in two-tone schemes: Atlantis Turquoise Pearl, Horizon Orange Metallic, and Bright Red Metallic. GL+ and GL variants are available in Cool White Pearl, Silky Silver Metallic, Galactic Gray Metallic, Cosmic Black Pearl Metallic and Atlantis Turquoise Pearl Metallic.

In a speech during the launch held at a Pasig City events venue, Suzuki Philippines President Hiroshi Suzuki spoke of the market “trust and confidence” the company has enjoyed through the years. No secret then that the Vitara’s return is certainly planning to capitalize on that cherished history — not to mention, among others, its attractive pricing.