Diesel Vitara too expensive for NZ

Vitara’s impending NZ market turbo thrust only works for petrol, not diesel, the brand has explained.


POTENTIAL that it would likely carry a premium of up to $10,000 over the current most expensive Vitara model is keeping a turbodiesel edition of the popular compact Suzuki soft-roader out of the New Zealand market.

“We’d like to have it, but the money just isn’t right at the moment. If we can get some change on that issue, then chances are we would take another look at it,” was the comment today from Suzuki New Zealand’s general manager of motor vehicle marketing in respect to the diesel-fuelled edition that the Japanese brand is now delivering to some other export markets.

Gary Collins’ comment about the model comes as the Whanganui-based distributor is readying to launch a petrol turbo edition of the crossover.

The new model, expected to hit the market in a month’s time, is an addition to the Vitara family and will debut Suzuki new 1.4-litre Boosterjet engine that is also coming with the new Baleno, a compact car that is being launched later in the year.

Pricing has not been announced so it is not clear if this version will sit within or above the current lineup of six current cars, three in front-drive and three in four-wheel-drive, than span from $27,990 to $37,990.

Though it gives away 200cc in capacity, the BoosterJet has the upper hand on the current models’ fuel-injected naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre for power and torque – generating 103kW against 86kW and 220Nm versus 156Nm.

Yet the extra oomph makes little difference in the claimed fuel economy figure, with the new engine claimed to produce optimal overall economy of 5.9 litres per 100km, or just 0.1L/100km thirstier than the 1.6 on the combined cycle. The turbo engine does, however, require a higher octane petrol.

The diesel, of course, is better still. Suzuki claims this 1.6-litre unit will eke out a combined-cycle fuel consumption figure of 4.9L/100km.

The diesel also produces 88kW and 320Nm, so it promises good performance even though at 1325kg it weighs 100kg more than the other models – in part due to the engine weight but also because it runs a dual-clutch transmission rather than the six-speed torque-converter automatic that is taken by other Vitaras.

The only drawback is how it would cost: Initial discussions suggests it would start out at around $45,000, which he says make it too expensive for here.

“We’re just battling getting it in for a competitive price … it is available to us if we want it. We cannot resolve the price to where we want it. At the moment it would be considerably more expensive than the turbo petrol.

“We will continue some discussions and, if we can make some headway, we will review it. But at the moment we cannot make it work.”

Asked if he thought Vitara was at risk of limiting its appeal with diesel, he said: “I think it would make a good addition. But if we cannot make it work at the right price it won’t make any volume for us.”

Like the petrol editions, the diesel model comes out of Suzuki’s plant in Hungary.

The factory has high hopes, meanwhile, for the BoosterJet-equipped Vitara. It says the new forced-induction powerplant has minimal turbo lag, thanks to the use of a compact turbocharger attached directly to the cylinder head, which also has the exhaust manifold incorporated into the cylinder head casting for weight savings and shorter distances between components.

Overseas the engine equips both the front- and four-wheel-drive models. The latter utilize a four-mode Allgrip system, with driver-selectable settings for various scenarios comprising Sport, Snow, the tough-terrain Lock and the default economy-focussed Auto.

The engine drives through a six-speed automatic offering a manual mode controlled by paddle shifters and an expanded torque converter lock-up range for better acceleration, fuel economy, and quietness, according to the Japanese car-maker.

The turbo is likely to be identified by its signature trim enhancements of a chrome front grille, satin-finished exterior mirrors, red headlamp surrounds and a red-themed interior.

Ground clearance of 185mm, an 18.2-degree approach and 28.2-degree departure angles seem set to make the turbo handy off-seal. Suzuki says the new flagship can still “easily negotiate deeply rutted or snow-covered roads”.

In other markets the model’s features include a sat-nav-equipped infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, leather seats with suede inserts and red stitching, cruise control with speed limiter, keyless entry and ignition, climate control, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, steering wheel sound system controls, LED daytime running lights, power windows and mirrors, 17-inch black alloy wheels, power-folding door mirrors and the option of two-tone exterior paint schemes including a bright red body with black roof that is specific to the S Turbo.

Safety features includes seven airbags (front airbags for the driver and passenger, driver’s knee airbag, side airbags for the driver and front passenger, left and right curtain airbags) stability control, antilock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, auto-levelling and dusk-sensing LED headlights, LED daytime running lights and automatic wipers.