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Suzuki Vitara 1.6 JX 4U2 Estate

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5 Reviews
  • good vision
  • high up
  • small tank
  • older models are loud
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    5 Reviews
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    • More +
      16.10.2015 17:44
      Not Helpful


      • "good audio"
      • "aesthetically pleasing"
      • "high up"
      • "good vision"
      • "4 wheel drive"


      • "winding windows"
      • "small tank"
      • "older models are loud"
      • "not much storage"

      Pottering-around car - reliable & attractive, but not spacious or fast

      I've been driving my 1995 Suzuki Vitara for almost a year now - it had some troubles when I first bought it since my aunt had been using it daily for around 16 years. There were some age related issues that I don't think had much to do with the car model itself, but its age. However, once we had fixed some seat adjusters, replaced the water pistons and handbrake, and bought new tires, it runs as smoothly as ever - it has not ever failed to start in cold weather, it doesn't retain too much heat in hot weather and has done both long and short journeys with no issues. Depending on your needs, you could find the car a problem - I am quite happy to not push it over 65mph, but I know that this would put off a lot of drivers. It also is only a three-door, and has very little storage in the boot, but for someone with few passengers or luggage, this is not really an issue. I would say it is more of a 'pottering around' car than a long-distancer or children-hauler, both because of the size, speed limitations and small tank. The visibility is really excellent - as I often say, it is more of a goldfish bowl than a car, as it is mostly windows. It is very petite, but you never feel like you are squashed, as it is thin but very high up, which also helps the visibility. I have installed a new USB/aux cable stereo in the car, and the inbuilt audio system within the car is really good - I usually play music at quite a high volume, but it never gets distorted or gets crackly with feedback.


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    • More +
      10.09.2009 17:36
      Very helpful



      I love my car

      I bought my Suzuki Vitara JX 4u2 in the year 2004, and it's an X reg (2000). It was a big step up (literally!) from my previous car, an old Austin Mini, and it took quite some getting used to. The first thing you notice when driving a Vitara is how high up you are... the driving position is excellent, you can see above and beyond the cars in front, and you feel very safe up there. I must point out that this makes it very easy to find in a car park too, as the tall roof sticks out like a sore thumb!

      The drive...
      I find this car great fun to drive. For nipping around town shopping it's perfect (although a little heavy on fuel but I'll come to that later). I've taken it on many long journeys too, and find it handles motorway speeds very well, although it does get rather noisy at top speeds. I do think it could do with a 6th gear, as 5th doesn't seem high enough. One thing definitely worth noting is, due to it's height, it doesn't fare too well in high winds. Or even moderate winds, to be fair. Many times I've found myself crawling along the M62 in the slow lane, praying I don't get blown into the hard shoulder, or worse! I really have no idea why this occurs, and it can be disheartening/embarrasing seeing both smaller cars and massive trucks overtaking me with no problem.

      The 1.6 engine handles all terrains well, I've travelled all over the Welsh mountains with no problem. However the second you add any significant weight it can struggle up some hills, as I discovered when towing a trailer full of camping gear and 3 male passengers last month. My Vitara really struggled. I had to drop to 2nd gear for much of the journey, and it seemed to take forever to get up those hills. The noise coming out of my poor engine was horrendous! Add to that some tight bends, and the high winds pushing us towards the edge of some huge drops, and it was a stressful journey.
      I must confess to never having used the 4-wheel-drive option, as it seems so impractical to have to jump out and turn the dials on the front wheels to do so. Perhaps if I had, my journey into the mountains might've been less of an ordeal....

      In a world where many 4x4s are sadly becoming more rounded and car-like, this is square and angular enough to still look like a 'jeep'. Mine is blue and silver, identical to the image on this page. When polished up it looks very smart! The alloy wheels which come fitted as standard look great, and to be honest I really can't fault the look of this car.

      The colour sceme throughout is a boring, dull grey. The seats are very comfortable, with plenty of room both in front and back (yes, I've been a passenger in my own car several times, my dad likes to drive it now & then). My best friend is 6 foot 6", and even he can fit his long legs in without a problem. The dashboard is simple and the dials well laid out, and I find the gear stick is in a perfect position. Overall this is a very comfy car to be in, even on long journeys. There is no 'boot' as such, just a tiny 6-inch space behing the rear seats. I guess this is why it's called an "estate". This means anything more than 3 shopping bags will have to go on the back seat. The rear seats do fold down though, giving a large space if needed, with plenty of height. I managed to squeeze an exercise bike in there quite easily.
      There is no air conditioning, but the blower is powerful enough to keep you comfortable. Likewise the heater. It also demists very qucikly (something of a luxury to me, having previously owned a Mini which would steam up in all temperatures). Another plus is the sound system, which is very impressive.

      Fuel consumption...
      Now this is the one major gripe I have with the Vitara. It seems to swallow petrol far too quicly for my liking. I'm not good at working out miles to the gallon etc., but to give you some idea, my car gives me approx. 60 miles to a £10. Compare this to my dad's big Citroen C4 people carrier, which gives him 120 miles to £10, and it's quite a difference! I seem to be forever filling it up.

      In the 5 years I've had it, I've had only one problem. Two years ago there was a loud bang from the engine, and it came to a halt. Turns out something had fallen off, but I got it fixed and it's been fine since. I cannot elaborate on this, as I know nothing about car engines! My dad just took it to a garage and got it fixed. Apart from this mishap, the car has been no trouble at all. I haven't had to buy any parts, and it's passed all MOTs without a hitch.

      A very enjoyable, loveable car to own, and to drive. Comfortable, practical, and good looking. Just don't push it to any extremes and it'll be fine!


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      • More +
        02.04.2008 01:24



        hi,i bought a 1.6 16valve 1995 vitara for my wife, now ive had to get her a new golf. the engine on the vitara has a bad slapping piston,what im after is a little help,can i put a 16v cylender head on a 8v short engine.please can anyone help me with this question,as i can only get the 8v engine with my bujet .thanks


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      • More +
        23.08.2006 15:44
        Not Helpful


        • Reliability


        Great Car, Great Fun. Treat anything well and it will always reward you.

        I Love this car, I have had mine for 4 years its a 2000 model with 5 speed gearbox.
        I have bought 4 lightbulbs for this car in 4 years, at MOT.
        I haven't had to replace any gearboxes or clutches or handbrake cables as i know how to drive.
        This MOT i actually expect to have to replace the tyres, i know it needs 2, but i will buy 4, i also need a new battery as it loses its charge if left unstarted for more then about 5 days.
        Not bad for a 6 year old car. 36,000 miles

        I always use 4wd in the rain or indeed any adverse weather.


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        • More +
          12.10.2004 21:27
          Very helpful



          • "It's a girl's car"

          1999 Suzuki Vitara
          Make: Suzuki
          Model: Vitara JX 4U2
          Body: Estate
          Engine: 1.6
          Gearbox: Manual 4 speed with 4-wheel drive box
          Number of Doors: 3
          Fuel: Unleaded
          Price: £5999 (From a dealer)

          I AM NOT A CAR EXPERT. I know nothing about them apart from how to drive them, how to fill the petrol tank, fill the windscreen bottle and check the dipstick, anything else and I am out of my depth. Please do not expect technical specs and Top Gear type insight. I am simply a driver who has owned this car and would like to pass on comments to maybe help one or two people out there.

          When looking to buy a car I decided to look for something different. I fancied something sporty but the insurance was crazy. Then one day I saw something I had never dreamed of owning before. It was a Suzuki Vitara 4x4 and I loved the look of it and once I took it for a test drive I loved it even more. The insurance was quite reasonable too.

          So I decided to buy the motor.

          ***Over-all Looks***
          The Vitara looks slightly boxy but with its chunky tyres and tidy bodywork it looks a bit tasty. Not until I bought it did I realise that I was probably one of the few men to own one of these. It seems that most of the people who drive these are hairdressers aged about 25 called Tracey with a baby seat in the back or a Sun bed shop manageress called Muriel who is something over 45 with tanned skin like a leather handbag and peroxide blonde hair. It’s funny because when you see another guy driving a Vitara you both try to look like it’s not really your car, you are just testing it for your girlfriend and you tend not to make eye contact.

          I think Suzuki must have had a job lot of paint left over from a funfair because when you see Vitaras they are all painted the same colours as dodgems. That plastic looking blue, red, green, white, yellow and that awful Play-Doh Purple. Mine was the Blue and wasn’t too bad. The Vitara even has a nice grey/silver plastic trim on the outside just like the dodgems – I was so tempted to tie a broom handle with a lit sparkler on top onto the tailgate and I was half expecting a dodgy looking bloke called Mauler to jump onto my bonnet with a ciggie in his mouth and ask for some money for the ride.

          The rear door holds the spare wheel a’la jeep style and doesn’t actually get in the way when looking in the rear view mirror.

          The car comes with some rather spiffing looking alloy wheels that look great but are a nightmare to clean.

          The interior is quite dated but the seats are nice and spacious with plenty of legroom in the front but none in the back at all. The riding position is quite high as you would expect from a 4x4 and you do get that “I am better than you” feeling even though certainly are not.

          At 6’3” this is one of the few cars that gave me plenty of headroom but that said my right arm was pressed against the door rather tightly and I get the impression the cockpit was designed for a woman.

          The interior trim is very plastic and cheap looking. One unusual feature is that fact you have two glove compartments – one underneath the dash and one above. It’s a good job because with no boot and no legroom in the back this is probably one of the few places you can store anything. By the way, there is only enough room for two in the back.

          There is a large sideways opening rear door that opens up to the rear seats; there is probably only about six inches or so space between the rear door and the seats. There is no real room for shopping. The rear seats fold right down to give a good sized space with plenty of height but there is still not as much space as you would think – or hope.

          The gear stick is quite long and the driving position is more like a transit van than a car but very comfortable with the gear stick at a very good angle.

          Just behind the normal four-speed gearbox there is a box with a small gear stick that allows you to change from two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive. This is fine but as well as slipping the neat little stick into 4wd and checking the 4wd light on the dash you have to get out of the car, get down to the front wheels and turn a rather dirty hub in the centre of both front wheels to the four wheel position. Then you are good to go in four-wheel position. This means that the transition between 2wd and 4wd isn’t as slick as you would expect. It’s the same procedure to switch from 4wd back to 2wd. Nightmare, especially with your good clothes on!

          I have already mentioned the problems with changing between 2wd and 4wd. So why not leave it in 4wd all the time?

          OH NO!!!! This is a definite no-no. One day I took the Vitara to my local Suzuki dealer and got chatting. He then went on to tell me that cars should either be 2wd OR 4wd and not with an ability to switch between the two. It appears that setting your car to 4wd in anything less than treacherous conditions (heavy mud or snow) will seriously damage your gearbox. You should switch back to 2wd immediately after getting out of these conditions. So it seems that the 4wd is next to useless most of the time and downright dangerous to the car the rest of the time.

          Apart from the above there are a few other glitches too.

          The gearbox is underpowered with only four gears and the engine gets really loud and sounds as if it is being flogged at around 60mph. The gears are set so that you sound find yourself running out of gears at about 35-40mph. After having the car a year the gearbox went, I had it replaced and three months later it went again rather spectacularly. The car began to behave badly and the gear stick almost came off in my hand. Both time it cost about £300 for the gearbox repair/replacement.

          The hubs on the front wheels that deal with the 2wd/4wd switching can become damaged or stiff and when they are replaced they cost about £400. I was gutted when I had to have them replaced.

          Parts are a complete nightmare to find and they are damn pricey too. So when they eventually arrive they will empty your wallet.

          I don’t have exact figures on petrol consumption but I do recall it was rather thirsty for a 1.6 engine.

          The power steering is excellent and makes the driving experience so much better. This is one thing I can’t fault on the Vitara.

          Apart from the parts and breakdowns, once you get to drive the car it is damn fun and when it snows you can be one of the few vehicles out and about in all weathers. My Vitara got me to Inverness and back from Newcastle twice and both times during the heavy snows of winter up there. While other road users where pulled up or sliding around like crazy the Vitara is quick and sure-footed. You feel perfectly safe and 100% in control. That was the best part of the Vitara – while Mercedes and BMWs floundered my little Suzuki flew past without a problem.

          ***In Conclusion***
          If you want a 4wd vehicle get one that is permanent 4wd. That should cut down on the chance of you inadvertently breaking your own car.

          The Vitara is a lot of fun to drive but I spent more time worrying about what the next break down would cost me instead of enjoying the car.

          In 1 year I had:
          2 new Gearboxes
          2 new Front wheel Hubs
          2 new handbrakes
          1 new clutch
          2 new headlight bulbs
          1 new rear break light

          (I may as well have stuck a new car onto the old wing mirror!)

          Would I recommend it to a friend? No, I’m afraid not. I love 4wd but don’t go for this one – maybe a Land Rover or even a Jeep might be better.

          Hope this helps


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