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Suzuki drive to La Union

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Text and photos by Chris Van Hoven

Not long after Suzuki Philippines launched the all-new Vitara, they invited us to join their media drive in their latest vehicleto La Union. The drive would serve as a test of the new vehicle’s mettle after a long absence.

The all-new Vitara is a good looking subcompact SUV.Up front and prominent are the LED daytime running lamps vertically mounted on the bumper edges.There are LED headlamps with a blue projector cover too on the top-of-the-line GLX trim.  Also standard on the GLX are 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Continental 215/55’s.

With the cars ready, we loaded up our gear and got ready to hit the road. Inside, you can’t miss the analog clock smack dab in the middle of the logically laid out dashboard. The comfortable seats were a mix of leather and a suedetype fabric. We all liked the panoramic sunroof and the tilt–telescopic adjustable steering, which made finding the best driving position easy.

What would a road trip be without entertainment?The GLX gets a huge 10-inch Android infotainment system with navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port. You can connect to the internet via WiFi using your phone as a hotspot.There’s a Mirrorlink function once the phone is connected. To make the drive much easier, there were audio controls on the steering wheel.

The first leg of our trip was a roughly 70-km drive to our early lunch venue, Souq, in San Fernando, Pampanga. A driver change after lunch, allowed someone on board a chance to drive. The next leg was a longer 160-km drive to Rosario, La Union where we would have a short pitstop at a gas station.  Thefinal stint was about 60-kms to Thunderbird Resort, Poro Point. The drive was long enough for all of us to experience the Vitara’s performance on the road.SUZUKI_Main

That performance comes from under the hood, where a 1.6-liter gas engine resides. It puts out 115-Hp at 6000rpm, with torque of 156-Nm at 4400rpm mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the GLX.  The power on tap was enough for our needs.Taking into consideration three of us relatively large guys and our luggage were on board, the Vitara didn’t feel labored on the provincial roads.It made short work of overtaking slower vehicles and the new auto gearbox kept up the pace with the convoy, upshifting as soon as it could and downshifting right when you need it.  The addition of cruise control helped keep us at the right speed on the SCTEX and TPLEX highways.

The all-new Vitara has six airbags consisting of dual, curtain and side airbags for the driver and passengers.  Standard is the electronic stability program (ESP), the hill hold control and it has Suzuki’s Total Effective Control Technology (TECT).  There’s lots of luggage space, at 375-liters and it opens up to a further 710-liters when you fold the rear seats forward.

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Overall, it’s fun to drive, the ride is comfy and it has a lot of great features you can use.  It was at home on the expressways as it was on the provincial roads and even more so on city streets.

If you’re in the market for an SUV but don’t need a seven-seater or its size, you might want to take a look at the all-new Vitara. It comes in youthful colors like the “Atlantis Turquoise Pearl” we all drove.The top of the line GLX variant we drove is priced at P1,048,000.00.  Finally, it’s manufactured in Hungary, built to European car standards, yet easily living up to Asian expectations.

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