The Suzuki Vitara was updated with mild-hybrid technology to improve performance and cut emissions. Suzuki reckons fuel economy has improved by 15%. Two- and four-wheel-drive versions are available, as before. We towed with the range-topping four-wheel-drive model, the 1.4 Boosterjet Hybrid SZ5 Allgrip.

Towing ability

The Suzuki is small and lightweight, but makes a stable tow car
The Suzuki is small and lightweight, but makes a stable tow car

The Vitara 1.4 Boosterjet Allgrip must be one of the lightest 4x4s you can buy. The car has a kerbweight of 1350kg, once you include 75kg for the driver (which Suzuki does not include in its published weights). That gives an 85% match figure of 1148kg, within the 1200kg towing limit.

Such low weight, and the modest towing limit, restricts the range of tourers that the Vitara can tow, but pop-up campers such as the Opus Air and small vans such as the Swift Basecamp will make sensible matches.

We matched the Suzuki Vitara to a Swift Basecamp 4 with a MiRO of 1050kg, loaned by Broad Lane Leisure. Even with electrical assistance, the Suzuki’s power and torque outputs are quite modest, but the Vitara pulled the Basecamp up to speed with no sign of strain. Aside from some pitching over bumps, the car felt comfortable and confident towing on country roads.

A hill start on a 1-in-10 slope posed no problems. The Vitara has that rare thing in 2021 – a manual handbrake. It held car and caravan still without needing to be pulled with undue force.

Pulling away needed plenty of revs, more than you might expect when towing with a diesel. But in dry conditions, the Suzuki’s Allgrip 4×4 system put the car’s power to the road smoothly and there were no histrionics from the clutch.

Plenty of vehicles tow well enough on country roads, but are less comfortable on exposed sections of A-road and motorway at higher speeds. However, for such a light car, the Vitara is reassuringly secure at 60mph. Even overtaking lorries, there was barely more than a twitch from car and caravan. In fact, the Vitara towed every bit as well as some bigger, heavier cars.

Detachable towball and electrics sit clear of the bumper
Detachable towball and electrics sit clear of the bumper

Arrive at your destination and the Suzuki is really straightforward to manoeuvre. The towball and electrics sit clear of the bumper, so there should be no skinned knuckles when hitching up. The detachable towball and electrics will set you back £573.

However, it’s a shame that the rear-view camera isn’t in the centre of the tailgate. It’s off to one side, so not quite as useful when reversing towards the hitch as it could be.

If you’re unlucky enough to experience a puncture while towing, the Vitara has a tyre-repair kit, rather than a proper spare wheel. We thumbed through the handbook and could find no warning against using this while towing with the car.

Solo driving

There's 375 litres for bags with the rear seats upright, 710 litres with them folded
There’s 375 litres for bags with the rear seats upright, 710 litres with them folded

The Vitara is a doddle to drive around town. Its small dimensions and nippy engine are well suited to urban streets, and the light steering is easy on the arms when parking.

Head out of town and it has a fun and engaging personality. Perhaps the steering could be a little weightier when cornering, but for a small SUV, the car handles well.

Considering it’s quite sporty to drive, the Vitara is comfortable, too. Only really sharp bumps are felt with a thud.

Head out on the motorway, and there’s quite a bit of road noise. Otherwise the Vitara is at home on a long drive, thanks to the comfortable ride and driving position, and its excellent stability.

In most conditions, you’re unlikely to notice the Allgrip 4×4 system, but it’s good to know it’s there. Leave the system in auto and it will decide whether to send power to all four wheels, or just two for economy.

Practicality

There's 375 litres for bags with the rear seats upright, 710 litres with them folded
There’s 375 litres for bags with the rear seats upright, 710 litres with them folded

For a compact SUV, the Vitara is reasonably practical, with one or two reservations. The most significant black mark is the loss of headroom from the panoramic sunroof in the top-spec SZ5 model. It’s most noticeable in the back, where adults and tall teenagers might find their heads brushing against the ceiling. That’s a shame, because there’s ample legroom for grown-ups in the back.

The problem is less marked in the front, but the standard of finish looks and feels rather workaday and the infotainment system is dated.

There’s 375 litres for bats with the rear seats upright, not bad for a car of this size, but the Ford Puma and Škoda Karoq both have bigger boots.

Buying and owning

SZ5 models have digital radio, sat nav, sunroof, climate control, suede upholstery, rear-view camera and parking sensors
SZ5 models have digital radio, sat nav, sunroof, climate control, suede upholstery, rear-view camera and parking sensors

In high-spec SZ5 Allgrip guise, the Vitara has a list price of £27,049, but at the time of writing, Suzuki is offering a £3000 customer saving, bringing it down to £24,049.

That’s not a lot for a car with so much standard kit. SZ5 models have 17-inch alloys, digital radio, sat nav, a panoramic sliding sunroof, climate control, suede upholstery, a rear-view camera, and front and rear parking sensors.

For a petrol 4×4, the Vitara achieves an impressive official combined economy figure of 45.4 mpg with a manual gearbox (an automatic is also available). While towing, we saw 27.6mpg.

Verdict

Plenty of legroom for adults in the back
Plenty of legroom for adults in the back

As a vehicle to live with every day, the Vitara is outpointed by a number of newer rivals. However, as a lightweight tow car, it regains lost ground. It’s very stable for such a small car and the Allgrip 4×4 system is a big advantage if you like to stay at out-of-the-way sites in all weathers.


On the lookout for a new van to go with your tow car? Then you’ll want the best caravan for the job! Head over to our buying guides where our industry experts pick out the best caravans across a range of categories.

Or perhaps you’d like to look for some more towing vehicles? If so, our guide to the best used tow cars is a great place to start.

After a place to go on tour? Our top 100 sites guide is a free PDF that reveals the best caravan parks in the UK.


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