The Vitara, one of Suzuki’s most iconic vehicles, was launched in 1988 as a compact SUV. Dubbed Escudo in Japan and Sidekick in the United States, the small crossover came to North America for the 1989 model year. The Vitara name, mostly used in Europe and some South American and Asian market, was introduced in the United States starting 1999. That’s when the second-gen Vitara was born as a slightly larger, pricier and more powerful version of the first-gen model. A replacement was developed for 2005, but the current Grand Vitara has very little in common with the original concept. For 2015, however, the Vitara nameplate is making a surprising return to its roots, as it’s pinned as a compact SUV destined to compete against the Nissan Juke.

Set to break cover at the 2014 Paris Motor Show in October, the brand-new Vitara promises to have "a striking road presence," a "distinctive design," and numerous personalization options, the latter a feat Suzuki rarely offers. So is the Vitara signaling the Japanese are reinventing themselves? It’s a bit too early to draw a conclusion, but the compact SUV is definitely a new approach for a company such as Suzuki.

Click past the jump to read more about the Suzuki Vitara

Exterior

2015 Suzuki Vitara High Resolution Exterior
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Suzuki has only released one photo of the redesigned Vitara as of August 2014, but it’s more than enough to notice the company’s new approach for the nameplate. The crossover’s design comes straight from the IV-4 concept, and, unlike many other concept-to-production transitions, the Vitara inherited several styling cues. The overall shape, the muscular character line below the waistline, the hood, most of the front fascia and the black roof. Although different by design, the headlamps, the grille and the wheels are also related to the IV-4 concept.

What’s more, Suzuki promises customers will have the option of personalizing the vehicle with various color and trim choices. Sounds like the Japanese are getting ready to launch their own Mini Cooper for the crossover segment.

Interior

Exterior Dimensions

Overall length 4,175 MM (164.37 Inches)
Overall width 1,775 MM (69.88 Inches)
Overall height 1,610 MM (63.38 Inches)
Wheelbase 2,500 MM (98.42 Inches)
Treads Front 1,535 MM (60.43 Inches)
Rear 1,505 MM (59.25 Inches)
Minimum ground clearance 185 MM (7.28 Inches)

Drivetrain

Suzuki has yet to release any info on engines, but we expect to see a Vitara powered by a range of fuel-efficient, eco-friendly gasoline and diesel engines. The front-wheel-drive crossover will also benefit from the company’s available Allgrip four-wheel-drive system.

Drivetrain/Specifications

Type M16A 1.6-litre petrol D16AA 1.6-litre diesel engine
Maximum output 118 HP @ 6,000 RPM 118 HP @ 3,750 RPM
Maximum torque 115 LB-FT @ 4,400 RPM 236 LB-FT @ 1,750 RPM

Pricing and Availability

Pricing and availability info is not yet available as of August 2014, but Suzuki says the new Vitara will go on sale in the United Kingdom in spring 2015. Unfortunately, the Vitara will not make it to the United States.

Competition

Nissan Juke

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The Nissan Juke is Vitara’s main competitor in Europe. An already established player on the crossover market, the Juke just got its mid-cycle refresh for the 2015 model year. The updated includes revised headlamps, boomerang-style taillights, and reshaped bumpers, among other features. Interior updates are less noticeable, but the Juke is now able to fold its rear seats completely flat, allowing for more cargo space. This adds to the Juke’s already enhanced cargo capacity due to its redesigned cargo area.

The turbocharged, 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine carries over unchanged in the U.S.-spec Juke. The mill generates the same 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, while emitting less CO2 compared to model it replaces. In Europe, the crossover can also be had with a 1.5-liter, four-banger diesel sourced from Renault, Nissan’s longtime partner.

Honda HR-V

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The HR-V is a brand-new vehicle for the U.S. market and it’s set to hit dealerships in 2015. The crossover rides on the same platform underpinning the Fit subcompact and it’s been on sale in Japan as the Honda Vezel since December 2013. Although it borrows some of its styling cues from the larger CR-V, the HR-V is an all-new proposition as far as design goes, boasting original body lines and a genuine rear end.

The HR-V promises to be quite spacious and practical, mostly thanks to its Magic Seat system which allows for multiple seating configurations and a second row that can be folded flat. Power should be provided by the same 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine motivating the Fit.

Suzuki Grand Vitara

2015 Suzuki Grand Vitara Exterior Spyshots
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Press Release

Ever since its market launch in 1988, the Suzuki Vitara series has earned acclaim for stylish, city oriented designs, compact, easy to manage dimensions, comfortable on-road performance, and genuine off-road capability. The series has evolved through changes in body size and powertrain. Now, more than 25 years after the original model’s debut, the Vitara heritage is embodied in a fresh sport utility vehicle incarnation. The all-new Vitara has smaller dimensions to meet contemporary needs. It incorporates Suzuki’s cutting-edge ALLGRIP four wheel drive system and advanced safety and connectivity equipment, it also enables owners to express themselves through various personalising options.

2015 Suzuki Vitara High Resolution Exterior
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The new Vitara will go into production at the Magyar Suzuki plant in Hungary in early 2015, and will then make its market debut across Europe. It will later be exported around the world as Suzuki’s global compact SUV.

Concept

1. Instantly recognisable Suzuki-SUV looks

The new Vitara inherits the styling of its series and Jimny series and brings it up to date in a brand new exterior design.

2. The performance benefits of ALLGRIP and a superior chassis

Large diameter wheels and the high ground clearance of an SUV yield plenty of off-road capability. In addition, an ALLGRIP system with four modes that the user can choose to suit the road surface and driving conditions assures great on and off road performance.

3. Personalisation that enables owners to express themselves

Owners can combine a range of exterior and interior items to express their individual personalities.

4. Advanced navigation and safety features

An audio system with smartphone connectivity gives access to advanced navigation features (available with higher grades). Furthermore, the Radar Brake Support system (available with certain grades) offers cutting-edge safety by using milliwave radar to prevent or mitigate collisions.

5. Superior fuel economy

2015 Suzuki Vitara High Resolution Exterior
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The new Vitara meets contemporary demand for great fuel economy. Weight-saving measures including extensive use of high-tensile steel make the body outstandingly light and rigid. Powertrain technologies including a newly developed six-speed automatic transmission also help save fuel. The new Vitara with two-wheel drive and a five-speed manual transmission has CO2 emissions of just 123g/km.

Design

An up to date expression of Suzuki’s SUV design heritage
A rugged SUV form and sophisticated colour coordination
Combinations of body colours and design details selectable for personal expression

Exterior design

The new Vitara expresses Suzuki’s SUV styling heritage in a strong looking design. A clamshell bonnet (a hallmark of the Vitara series) gives the front end a look of solidity, and a trapezoid motif front bumper indicates a powerful grip on the ground. Kicked-up body-side character lines and bonnet-side air outlets form motifs from the first generation Vitara. Shoulder lines running the entire length of the body contribute to a look of SUV toughness. Plus, Suzuki’s pursuit of great aerodynamics is reflected in optimally designed bumper openings, in a roof line that slopes smoothly downward toward the rear, in flat underbody surfaces, and in side mirrors and front bumper edges whose shapes are based on the results of airflow analysis. LED headlamps with blue projector covers attribute to energy saving while also creating a cool impression.

Interior design

A boldly shaped instrument panel garnish and a U-shape design around the shift lever communicate SUV toughness. A round clock and air outlets, which are both motifs of the Grand Vitara, give the interior a youthful, sporty look.

Personalisation

From the initial development stage, the model is designed with personalisation in mind. Diverse exterior colours and a range of design details enable owners to express their individual personalities. Each customer can choose from 15 body colour possibilities that include three new colours and several two tone combinations.

The new colours are as follows:

Atlantis Turquoise Pearl Metallic (ZQN) evokes the excitement and thrill of discovering natural beauty in highly urbanised cities.
Horizon Orange Metallic (ZQP) evokes the excitement of encountering nature when leaving the city and heading for the suburbs.
Savannah Ivory Metallic (ZQQ) evokes a boundless savannah field, which brings out an adventurous spirit.

Five other items enable owners to further express themselves by personalising the new Vitara’s interior and exterior details. Those items are as follows:

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Front grille (white or black)
Fender garnishes (white or black)
Instrument panel ornament (turquoise, orange, white, or piano black)
Louvre rings (turquoise, orange, white, or piano black)
Centrally located clock (CARBON or KANJI)

Further, the owner can emphasise the new Vitara’s on or off-road credentials by choosing from two accessory packages:

The urban package adds sophistication by means of chrome parts. It consists of fog lamp bezels (chrome-plated), body-side mouldings, and a roof spoiler.
The rugged package emphasises SUV toughness. It consists of a front skidplate, a rear skidplate, fog lamp bezels, body-side mouldings, and a loading edge protection.

Performance

A driving experience that reflects all of Suzuki’s performance knowhow
Great on-road performance combined with the off-road capability, a hallmark of the Vitara series
A powertrain that delivers superior levels of performance and fuel economy
Some of the lowest CO2 emissions of any compact SUV

Engines and transmissions

Engines

The new Vitara is powered by the M16 1.6-litre petrol engine or the D16AA 1.6-litre diesel engine. With the petrol option, friction reductions combine with weight savings in the engine and related components to realize superior fuel economy together with high output and torque. For the diesel engine, a new EGR system and an electronically controlled VGT help to achieve powerful, torquey performance together with low emissions and superior fuel economy.

Transmissions

Each of the new Vitara’s transmissions reflects measures to achieve excellence in terms of fuel economy, shift feel, and suppression of noise and vibration.

Manual transmissions

A five-speed manual transmission is available for the 1.6-litre petrol engine, and a six-speed manual transmission is available for the 1.6-litre diesel engine. Each manual transmission’s gear ratios are optimised to help realise a superior combination of performance and fuel economy. Measures such as a shift lever counterweight realise a smooth, positive shift action that makes for enjoyable driving.

Automatic transmission

A six-speed automatic transmission is available for the 1.6-litre petrol engine. A wide gear ratio range permits precise control over gear ratios, so it helps to realise superior response at low vehicle speeds (for instance, when pulling away from standstill or driving slowly uphill) and enables the engine to run at low revs. An expanded lockup range promotes acceleration, fuel economy, and quietness. Plus, a manual mode enables the driver to change gear using paddles on the steering wheel.

2015 Suzuki Vitara High Resolution Exterior
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CO2 emissions

The new Vitara’s CO2 emissions are low thanks to the use of high tensile steel and other weight saving measures in the body. An Engine Auto Stop Start system is also used which shuts down the engine when the car stops (for instance, at traffic lights). Suzuki targets CO2 emissions of 123g/km with the petrol engine, two-wheel drive, and five-speed manual transmission and 127g/km with the petrol engine, two-wheel drive, and the six-speed automatic transmission.

Four-wheel drive is typically seen as detrimental to fuel economy and emissions performance. By contrast, Suzuki’s ALLGRIP system enables CO2 emissions that are remarkably low for a four-wheel drive SUV. Suzuki’s targets for the ALLGRIP equipped Vitara are 134g/km with the five-speed manual transmission and 138g/km with the six-speed automatic transmission.

The new Vitara also has outstandingly low CO2 emissions with the diesel engine. Suzuki’s targets are 106g/km with two-wheel drive and the six-speed manual transmission and 111g/km with four-wheel drive and the six-speed manual transmission.

Note: Figures shown are not yet homologated and are target values only at the moment.

Four-mode ALLGRIP system

Suzuki evolved its renowned four wheel drive technologies into a new generation that delivers driving pleasure and peace of mind in diverse conditions while promoting economy and limiting the burden four wheel drive cars place on the environment. Suzuki calls this new generation ALLGRIP.

An ALLGRIP system with four driver-selectable modes that permit safe, enjoyable driving on diverse surfaces debuted in the Suzuki SX4 S-CROSS and has since earned a great reputation. This system is enhanced by the addition of a feed forward function.

The new Vitara’s ALLGRIP system uses a feedback function to send more torque to the rear wheels if it detects wheelspin at the front. The new feed forward function gives the system the additional ability to predict front wheelspin risks from the road surface condition, accelerator pedal position, and steering angle and then send more torque to the rear wheels before wheelspin occurs. The system’s four driver-selectable modes are as follows:

Auto

The auto mode prioritises fuel economy in typical driving conditions. The system uses two-wheel drive by default. It switches to four-wheel drive if it detects wheelspin.

Sport

The sport mode is optimal for twisty roads. The system makes maximal use of four-wheel drive in accordance with accelerator inputs. At low and mid-range engine speeds, the system alters the accelerator/torque characteristics to optimize engine response and cornering performance.

Snow

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The snow mode is optimal for snowy, unpaved, and other slippery surfaces. The system uses four-wheel drive by default. It optimises four-wheel drive control in accordance with steering and accelerator inputs to promote traction and stability on low friction surfaces.

Lock

The lock mode is for extricating the car from snow, mud, or sand. A limited slip differential is fitted which helps brake any slipping wheel and transfer torque to the gripping wheels.

Suspension and brakes

Suzuki has pursued a class leading driving experience in every model. As a result the Vitara ensures stable handling and robust drivability.

Suspension

The front suspension is of MacPherson strut design. A revised shape for the lower arms, a revised layout for the suspension frame, and improved struts yield higher rigidity and accordingly better driving stability. The rear wheels have torsion beam suspension incorporating a beam design (a closed section consisting of a pipe crushed to form a “U” shape) that Suzuki first adopted in the SX4 S-CROSS. The beam design yields superior rigidity and ride comfort.

Brakes

The new Vitara has ventilated disc brakes at the front and solid disc brakes at the rear. Weight savings and drag reductions in the callipers help to enable superior braking performance and fuel economy.

Safety

Great stability plus comprehensive active and passive safety equipment
Radar Brake Support system to help the user drive safely
Light, impact absorbing body; speed limiter; ESP® * (Electronic Stability Program), and tyre pressure monitoring system
Adaptive cruise control for more relaxed driving
NOTE: ESP* is designed to help keep the vehicle under control. However, the degree of engine torque reduction, the wheels that brake and their braking force vary according to the driving conditions. ESP® is essentially a system to assist stable driving. In the case of slippage or skidding that exceeds the limits of grip between tyres and road surface, ESP® will still function but may not be effective.

*ESP is a registered trademark of Daimler AG.

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Safety equipment

The new Vitara’s active safety equipment includes a Radar Brake Support (RBS) system. When driving at low speeds due to heavy traffic and such, this system detects the vehicle in front, and if it senses the possibility of a collision, it warns the driver with a buzzer sound and a notification on the multi information display.

If the probability of a collision has increased, the system activates brake assist which increases the braking force during emergency braking. If the system determines that a collision is unavoidable, it applies the brakes automatically. The system thus helps prevent collisions when the vehicle is driving at low speeds and helps reduce damage in the event of a collision.

Passive-safety equipment includes seven airbags, which protect occupants in the event of a frontal or side impact; seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters; and a mechanism that limits rearward movement of the brake pedal. Plus, the bonnet shape and new structures for the cowl top, wipers, and bumpers provide impact absorption to mitigate the extent of harm if the car comes into contact with a pedestrian.

RBS system

The RBS system monitors the road ahead by means of milliwave radar. The radar technology enables it to work even at high speeds, in darkness, and in rain and other bad weather. The system prevents or mitigates a collision by means of three functions:

(1) Warning

When travelling above approximately 5 km/h, the system detects the vehicle in front, and if there is a risk of collision, it warns the driver to use the brakes.

(2) Brake assist

If a vehicle ahead is detected and there is a high probability of a collision, the system increases the braking force during panic braking, thereby helping to avoid the collision or reduce damage.

(3) Automatic braking

If a vehicle in front is detected and the system determines that a collision is unavoidable, it applies the brake automatically in order to avoid the collision or reduce damage from it.

Adaptive cruise control (ACC) system

The new Vitara’s ACC system combines cruise-control technology with the RBS system’s milliwave radar to make driving easier and more relaxing. The system uses radar to measure the distance to the vehicle in front and automatically adjusts road speed to maintain any of three driver selected headway distances.

Light, impact-absorbing TECT body

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The body embodies Suzuki’s Total Effective Control Technology (TECT) concept for occupant protecting impact absorption and low weight. Extensive use of ultrahigh tensile steel helps to make the new Vitara outstandingly crashworthy and fuel-efficient.

Convenience

Optimal body dimensions for SUV capability in challenging conditions
A panoramic sunroof with one of the largest openings in the class
Newly developed display audio system with smartphone connectivity
Big approach and departure angles that make deeply rutted or snow-covered roads easy to negotiate

Body dimensions

The new Vitara’s SUV packaging combines generous minimum ground clearance of 185mm with big, 215/55R17 tyres. Plus, an 18.2° approach angle and a 28.2° departure angle enable the driver to easily negotiate deeply rutted or snow-covered roads.

The luggage area has a capacity of 375 litres (VDA) with the rear seat in its upright position. The rear seat and a luggage board can be repositioned for diverse purposes.

Panoramic sunroof

Suzuki achieved a world first* by equipping the SX4 S-Cross with a sunroof consisting of two individually sliding glass panels. Now, the new Vitara incorporates the same acclaimed feature. The sunroof extends over the front and rear seats, making the cabin more relaxing for all occupants. When the sunroof is closed, the glass panels have a combined length of 1,000mm. When the sunroof is open, the opening has a length of 560mm (one of the greatest in the class), giving occupants an invigorating open-roof experience.

*based on Suzuki research in September 2014

Display audio system with smartphone connectivity

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The audio system has a seven inch touch panel display that enables intuitive operation and can also be used by people wearing gloves. A three dimensional navigation map makes landmarks easy to distinguish. The system also allows the customers use smartphone applications while on the move.

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