Product Type: Suzuki cars
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Comes apart more times than Lego
Suzuki Vitara 1.6 JX 4U2 Estate
Member Name: colin.lawson
Suzuki Vitara 1.6 JX 4U2 Estate
Date: 12/10/04, updated on 27/10/04 (6615 review reads)
Advantages: Power Steering is good, Great fun to drive, Better than two wheels in mud and snow
Disadvantages: Kept breaking down, Expensive to repair, It's a girl's car
Model: Vitara JX 4U2
Gearbox: Manual 4 speed with 4-wheel drive box
Number of Doors: 3
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.
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. Itís funny because when you see another guy driving a Vitara you both try to look like itís 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 wasnít too bad. The Vitara even has a nice grey/silver plastic trim on the outside just like the dodgems Ė 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 aíla jeep style and doesnít 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 ďI am better than youĒ feeling even though certainly are not.
At 6í3Ē 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 Ė one underneath the dash and one above. Itís 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 Ė 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 isnít as slick as you would expect. Itís 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 donít 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 canít 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 Ė while Mercedes and BMWs floundered my little Suzuki flew past without a problem.
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, Iím afraid not. I love 4wd but donít go for this one Ė maybe a Land Rover or even a Jeep might be better.
Hope this helps