Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid review

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

We road test the new hybrid version of the Suzuki Vitara…

Priced from £13,999 – £21,999 when it was launched in 2015, the Suzuki Vitara was an impressive new entrant in the compact crossover sector. Sharp looks, good value for money, fun to drive and surprisingly capable off-road, it was a great buy.

Fast forward seven years and a new version of the Vitara has been introduced. The big change is that it’s now offered as a full hybrid, as opposed to the mild hybrid that’s been available since 2019 – and the range now starts at £23,749 (Vitara Full Hybrid from £25,499).

The mild hybrid comes with a 1.4 Boosterjet (petrol turbo engine) and a tiny 48V lithium-ion battery stored under the passenger seat, developing a combined 129bhp.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

The full hybrid system pairs a 1.5-litre petrol engine with a 24kW electric motor, which is fed by a 140V lithium-ion battery pack, giving a combined output of 113hp. Both hybrids are available with front-wheel drive or as an ALLGRIP 4×4.

The Suzuki Vitara Mild Hybrid has a six-speed manual gearbox, fuel economy is up to 52.7mpg, CO2 emissions are as low as 121g/km, while 0-62 acceleration is 9.5 seconds.

The Vitara Full Hybrid comes with a six-speed automated manual gearbox, which is what used to call a semi-automatic. There’s no clutch pedal and the on-board computer picks the gears and activates the clutch automatically.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

CO2 emissions are identical at 121g/km and it’s a fraction more economical (53mpg), but it takes 12.7 seconds to sprint from standstill to 62mph.

So, in other words, the benefit of the full hybrid over the mild hybrid is minimal on paper. This is largely down to the fact that the electrified system is on the modest side, so it’s more a beefed-up mild hybrid than full-on hybrid.

The battery boost is targeted at lower revs, and although it can travel under purely electric power, it’s really just for manoeuvring or briefly in slow moving traffic, whereas many full hybrids are capable of a gentle mile or so in EV mode.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

Apart from the larger hybrid drivetrain and a couple of nods to the system in the driver’s display and infotainment system, the rest of the Vitara package is mostly unchanged. However, there is a loss of boot capacity (down from a healthy 362 litres to just 289 litres).

The fact that not much has changed since the 2019 refresh means that the Vitara generally is starting to show its age compared to newer rivals such as the Renault Captur E-Tech Hybrid, Nissan Juke Hybrid and Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid.

That’s not to say that the Vitara should be overlooked. It’s still a good-looking compact SUV with a four-wheel drive option (unlike its competitors) and it’s well equipped.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

There are just two trims levels (SZ-T and SZ5), and AEB (Automated Emergency Braking), blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, smartphone connectivity, rear parking camera, keyless entry/start, navigation and climate control are standard on both grades.

Inside, it’s put together well enough, but there’s a mass of hard, black plastic, and while it’s functional, it’s hardly cutting edge. The 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system comes with Smartphone Link, which lets you mirror your smartphone on the screen using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but it does have an aftermarket feel to it.

That said, the cabin is packaged well, so there’s plenty of space front and back, it’s comfortable and visibility is good. Just remember to try a version with the panoramic glass roof because it does lower the ceiling a little.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

On the road the mild hybrid was a joy to drive, largely down to its potent 1.4-litre petrol engine, slick manual gearbox and surprisingly good driving dynamics.

Sadly, the full hybrid experience is blighted by its automated manual gearbox. Put your foot down from standstill and it’s hesitant, while the upshifts generally are slow. What’s more, the engine is vocal at these times, though it soon settles down. In short, the Vitara Full Hybrid is at its best being driven gently.

It also did something we’ve never experienced before. On motorway runs using cruise control with the speed set at 70mph, it actually changes down one, sometimes two gears, when you encounter a slight upward incline.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

The hybrid system can be set in Eco or Standard mode via a button on the dash, prioritising either fuel efficiency or power. Additionally, in our test car there was a rotary selector next to the gear selector to engage Suzuki’s excellent ALLGRIP 4×4 system.

Thankfully, the Vitara’s handling is much the same as the mild hybrid, so no complaints there. However, it is worth heading off on a good test drive over different road surfaces, because the ride is on the firm side.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

Otherwise, driving the Vitara Full Hybrid is an easy-going experience with light steering, good grip and well controlled body lean in more challenging corners.

Verdict: The Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid doesn’t quite make the grade for us, but if good looks, value for money, tidy handling and an award-winning ownership experience are more important to you, then we’d recommended a test drive all the same.

Suzuki UK

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid

Nissan Juke Hybrid review

Nissan Juke Hybrid

We test drive the new hybrid version of the much-improved Nissan Juke – the compact crossover designed, developed and manufactured in the UK.

Cards on table time – I was never a fan of the original, pioneering Nissan Juke. Launched in 2010, its looks were at best challenging, and I didn’t like the way it handled.

All that changed in 2019 when the second-generation Juke was introduced. Not only did the design switch from weird to funky, but it drove much better, there was more interior space and quality was stepped up.

Fast forward three years and Nissan has launched a full hybrid (or self-charging) version of the Juke, which is claimed to deliver 25% more power and 20% less fuel consumption.

Nissan Juke Hybrid

Priced from £27,250 to £30,150, the newcomer uses much the same hybrid powertrain as the Renault Captur E-Tech hybrid, taking advantage of Nissan’s alliance with the French car maker.

The Japanese firm supplies the 1.6-litre engine (93bhp) and electric motor (48bhp), while Renault provides the gearbox, high-voltage 15kW starter-generator and 1.2kWh water-cooled battery.

The combined 141bhp of power is sent to the Juke’s front wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox and it can “sprint” from 0-62 mph in 10.1 seconds.

Nissan Juke Hybrid

More importantly, the car can return up to 56.5mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 114g/km.

Exterior changes include more aerodynamic bodywork to improve airflow and reduced drag, ‘Hybrid’ badges on the front doors and the tailgate, plus a black-gloss grille featuring the new Nissan logo, as seen on the larger Nissan Qashqai.

Other tweaks include keyless entry and two new colours (Ceramic Grey and stunning Magnetic Blue).

Nissan Juke Hybrid

The new Juke Hybrid also offers new two-tone 17-inch alloy wheels and a 19-inch design inspired by those fitted to the upcoming Nissan Ariya electric SUV.

Inside, it gains a new set of dials behind the steering wheel. A power gauge replaces the rev counter so you can monitor regenerative charge and battery charge level.

There are three selectable drive modes (Eco, Normal and Sport), plus an EV button. The Juke Hybrid can be run on pure electric for a maximum of 1.8 miles at speeds of up to 35mph and Nissan reckons it will travel on battery power for up to 80% of the time around town.

Nissan Juke Hybrid

There’s also an ‘e-Pedal’ button which allows the movement of the car to be controlled using just the accelerator pedal. When the driver’s foot is lifted from the accelerator, moderate braking is applied, and the car will decelerate to a crawl of around 3mph. This regenerative braking also helps to recharge the battery.

Boot space is reduced by 68 litres compared to the regular 1.0-litre petrol turbo Juke, because of the larger battery pack. However, there’s still a decent 354 litres, or 1,237 litres when the rear seats are folded down.

The cabin is a pleasant surprise thanks to the overall uplift in build quality and materials. Yes, there are some hard plastics used down below, but up top it’s mostly soft-touch, attractively designed (in a busy, old school sort of way) and has a solid feel.

Nissan Juke Hybrid

Unlike most crossovers, I was able to achieve a decent driving position because it’s possible to lower the seat more than usual. What’s more, I could sit behind myself, if you get my drift. The only slight negative is that the Juke’s waistline rises at the back, so smaller rear-seat passengers will struggle to see out of the windows.

The ride is on the firm side, but it’s perfectly comfortable and cruises nicely, while body roll is kept in check.

There’s plenty of poke from the electrically assisted engine and the switch from electric to petrol power, and vice versa, is seamless.

Nissan Juke Hybrid

The automatic gearbox works well enough, though the shifts are laboured when you put your foot down. It’s also worth noting that there are no paddles behind the steering wheel to hurry things along.

There’s plenty of grip up front, the steering is light and responsive, and it generally feels planted.

Our road test took in a mixture of city, motorway and country driving and we achieved around 45mpg, but I’m sure 50mpg is achievable on a longer, more relaxed run.

In other words, it’s not the most economical compact full hybrid out there, but every little helps.

Nissan Juke Hybrid

The Juke is already well equipped, so there’s full connectivity (Android Auto and Apple CarPlay) and the latest safety features including Traffic Sign Recognition, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and Hill Start Assist.

Our test car was also fitted with ProPilot – an advanced driving assistance technology that takes care of the steering, accelerating and braking on major roads.

Overall, the second-generation Juke is a huge improvement on the original, while the new full hybrid option is the icing on the cake.

Verdict: Thanks to the addition of hybrid technology, there’s never been a better time to switch to a Nissan Juke. Extra power and better economy complement the already practical, comfortable, well equipped and fun to drive compact crossover that it is. Well worth a test drive.

Nissan UK