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

Honda HR-V review

Honda HR-V review

If you’re looking for a new compact SUV, you’re already spoilt for choice – so is there room for the latest Honda HR-V?

Well, Honda is on a roll. The futuristic all-electric Honda e city car is a revelation, and the new Jazz is a supermini transformed.

Now magic dust has been sprinkled on the HR-V. The third-generation model is a bold, hybrid-only “coupe-crossover” up against formidable rivals including the Renault Captur, Nissan Juke and Toyota Yaris Cross.

Honda HR-V review

Priced from £27,960, it combines a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with two electric motors, producing 129bhp. Uniquely, at low speeds the battery pack and main electric motor drive the front wheels directly. At higher speeds the petrol motor kicks in.

Unlike its dowdy predecessor, the new self-charging hybrid HR-V has real kerb appeal.

A pair of slim headlights and an impressive body-coloured grille form the new HR-Vs face. It also looks more purposeful thanks to big wheels, an extra 10mm of ground clearance than before, rugged plastic cladding and roof rails. It even comes equipped with hill descent control.

Honda HR-V review

There’s a high seating position inside the HR-V, which is generally spacious and comfortable. It also has a quality feel thanks to the soft-touch surfaces used, while the doors close with a satisfying clunk.

Unlike some of its rivals, there’s plenty of space in the back for passengers. However, the boot is a slightly disappointing 319 litres (expanding to 1,305 litres with the rear seats flipped), but there is a nice wide opening.

Of course, the HR-V also benefits from Honda “magic seats” which can fold flat or flip up like a cinema seat, enabling large items (like bikes) to be stored centrally in the car without compromising boot space.

Honda HR-V review

Up front there’s a 7.0-inch digital driver display behind the steering wheel and a 9.0-inch central touchscreen for the infotainment system, which has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring as standard.

The modern dashboard is less cluttered cabin than before, and mercifully hasn’t dispensed with too many buttons, switched and dials.

The ‘e:HEV’ (Honda-speak for the self-charging hybrid engine) starts off in electric mode and you get a choice of three driving modes: Econ, Normal and Sport.

Honda HR-V review

Econ is fine for cruising, but a little gutless on flowing country roads, so you’ll probably spend most of your time in Normal with the occasional “blast” in Sport.

The HR-V is generally refined and the transition between combustion and electric power is pretty seamless, but if you’re too heavy with your right foot, the downside of its CVT automatic transmission rears its ugly head and the revs sky-rocket.

To Honda’s credit, it doesn’t take long for the din to settle down again, but it’s a reminder that you should drive smoothly for an enjoyable HR-V driving experience.

Honda HR-V review

Even with that proviso, the HR-V does feel swifter than the official figures suggest. For the record, it can “sprint” to 62mph in 10.6 seconds before maxing out at 107mph.

On the road there’s a little body lean in more challenging corners, but overall it handles well. It feels substantial, safe and secure. Add excellent visibility and light steering and it’s a doddle to drive in town.

Grip is surprisingly good too, while the brakes are more progressive than many hybrids. Sadly, there’s no four-wheel drive version available.

Honda HR-V review

Honda claims CO2 emission levels are as low as 122g/km, while fuel economy of up to 52mpg is possible. In fact, we found 50-60mpg is very realistic when the HR-V is driven sensibly.

All three trim levels come with Honda’s impressive ‘Sensing’ suite of safety technology as standard, featuring road departure mitigation, traffic sign recognition, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic headlights and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

Regenerative braking (which returns much of the energy otherwise lost from braking and coasting back into the battery while you’re driving) is also on offer. Simply select ‘B’ mode on the transmission or use the paddles behind the steering wheel. The system is especially satisfying on downhill stretches of road.

Verdict: The all-new Honda HR-V e:HEV is a welcome addition to the busy compact SUV sector, offering a winning blend of style, safety, comfort, economy and practicality combined with generous equipment levels and the brand’s reputation for reliability.

Honda UK

Honda HR-V review

Toyota Yaris Cross review

Toyota Yaris Cross review

We test the chunky crossover version of Toyota’s fuel-efficient Yaris…

Since childhood, we have been told that practice makes perfect. We have learned that nothing is achieved or improved without hard work and repetition. As the great golfer, Gary Player, once said: “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.”

All manufacturing and technical companies focus on one aspect of their general operations so that they become expert and gain a certain reputation that attracts clients who have confidence in their products and services.

Toyota Yaris Cross review

Car companies are no different. For example, Porsche’s cars are dynamic to drive with supreme build quality, while Skodas are spacious and deliver great value for money.

Toyota is known for many things – and hybrid technology is right up there. The Japanese giant was the first to launch a mainstream model that combined petrol and electric drive with the Prius in 2000 (UK debut). What’s more, it’s been able to use that knowledge and expertise gained over the years to constantly improve the system and apply it to a broader range of models.

Toyota Yaris Cross review

The highly successful Yaris supermini has become a hybrid-only car since its last major update in 2020 and combines a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with a small battery and electric motor.

Now, to compete in the currently popular small SUV sector, Toyota has launched the Yaris Cross, which has the same chassis and powertrain, but rides higher and has an off-roader look.

The electric motor produces up to 79bhp and the maximum output for petrol and electric combined is 116bhp. The gearbox is an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) and drive is through the front wheels.

Toyota Yaris Cross review

There will be a four-wheel drive option in due course but you will pay an extra £2,360 for the benefit. The range offers five levels of trim and equipment – Icon, Design, Excel, Dynamic and Premiere edition.

However, even the base Icon has keyless entry, Apple CarPlay, 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear camera, climate control and adaptive cruise control.

My test car came in Design trim with a ticket price of £24,140 and added LED lighting, 20:40:20 folding seats and 17-inch alloys, though the slightly bigger 9.0-inch infotainment screen (usually 8.0-inch) was an extra £500.

Toyota Yaris Cross review

The Yaris Cross looks smart and the bodywork boasts the usual rugged black plastic wheel-arch extensions and raised ride height shared with other small SUVs. If anything it’s more baby RAV4 than big Yaris.

The interior is basically the same as the new Yaris hatchback, which means that it’s clear, functional, modern and features the latest technology.

Rear space is pretty good for two with average knee room, but would be a push for three adults. The boot is roomy at 397 litres (expanding to 1,097 litres with the rear seats flipped down). A raised and flat false floor is available on higher trim levels.

Toyota Yaris Cross review

So how does all this cutting-edge hybrid technology work on the road? Is it smooth in operation and does it provide decent fuel economy?

Well, the clever electronics ensure that the Yaris runs on pure electric power up to 30mph until the battery runs out or you need extra acceleration. It then transfers to hybrid drive and the change is seamless. Engine noise is suppressed and the CVT transmission works well, as long as you don’t floor the accelerator, at which point the revs shoot up.

A dashboard display tells you how much electric driving you are doing and the state of the battery. I found that this encourages a gentler driving style which can only benefit economy.

Toyota Yaris Cross review

In fact, despite an officially quoted fuel consumption of 55-60mpg, I managed to get an indicated 70mpg on a particular varied run without too much trouble. Impressive stuff. The handling is pretty good and the steering is sharp, though some may find the ride is on the firm side.

Overall, it would be wrong to call it a dynamic drive, but then it’s not designed for that. Buy the awesome GR Yaris if you want serious fun.

So, job done for the boldy styled, spacious new Yaris Cross, which works as a good value, fuel-efficient commuter or small family car.

Test Facts

  • Toyota Yaris Cross 1.5 VVT-i Design
  • Body: Five door SUV
  • Engine: 1.0 litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol / electric hybrid
  • Power: 115 bhp
  • Torque: 120 Nm
  • Top Speed: 105 mph
  • Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 11.2 secs
  • WLTP combined mpg: 54.3 to 64.1 mpg
  • CO2 emissions: 102 g/km
  • Range priced from £22,515

Toyota UK