On a cold and damp late November evening, a bunch load of writers and myself met up at the stately Crathorne Hall hotel in Yarm. Before we tucked into our lavish tea (northern for the food we eat at 5.00pm) in front of the roaring open fire, we listened to the powers-that -be from Suzuki as they went into detail about why they’d axed models such as the SX4, and went on to estimate their sales for the forthcoming year. Riveting.
My attention was caught again when they began talking about their new Vitara, the real reason for the gathering.
They told us that it had taken the world by storm in the last 7 months since its launch earlier in 2015, and now they have a new engine to give it extra oomph - their 140PS, 1.4ltr petrol BOOSTERJET. By inserting this into their Vitara and adding their ALL-GRIP 4x4 system it would create a new model, the Vitara S.
As they went on about other models and sales trajectories, I began salivating in anticipation for my roast duck.
After an informative and jovial evening, the plan for the following morning was simple enough, get up, eat breakfast and take one of the new Vitara S’ on a scenic drive to Croft Racing Circuit where we could see for ourselves how good the new model is.
As the photos depict, it was a cold and damp morning at Croft Racing Circuit, which was going to be a good test the Zook. Admittedly I was a bit nervous, more excited really I suppose, as apart from indoor Go-Kart circuits and my PS 1 Grand Turismo game, I was a racing circuit virgin.
Sensibly, Suzuki arranged for us all to have our very own instructor who knew the circuit like the back of their hand, which helped enormously. For the first couple of laps he drove explaining the racing line as well as the best place to brake and accelerate. On the last lap he pushed the little Zook really hard through the corners and it behaved impeccably. Now it was my turn.
The sun was still low as I joined the track, with patches of dampness where the sun hadn’t reached. I took the first couple of laps quite steady as my instructor (sorry, I forgot your name!) reminded me of the racing lines. The next couple I went for it, stamping on the brakes and flinging it around the corners. On a couple of occasions I veered off the line slightly around the damp corners just so I could test the traction, it didn't even register them.
I can’t remember how many flying laps I drove, but by the end two things stayed with my. First how sure-footed the Vitara S is around damp corners on a race track, and secondly, if I want to be a racing driver, I’d best join a gym!
Our second part of the day was the safety test, it entailed driving a Vitara S at 45mph into a wet, coned area and being told to suddenly brake and swerve within a matter of feet. Of course with the magic of ABS and other such abbreviations, the Vitara S did a splendid job of not killing any cones!
For the last part of the day, Suzuki had a treat for us, they’d brought along some Radical sport cars for us to ride shotgun in, and wow, these things were a blast! Getting in was a struggle, and being tall my head was higher than the tiny windscreen which meant that at speeds over 120mph, the air was getting under my chin and lifting the bloomin’ helmet, of course it wouldn’t have come off, but it spoilt my line of vision, but it was good fun none-the-less.
And that was it, we made our way back to Crathorne Hall hotel for a late lunch and chatted amongst each other about the mornings activities, it was a fabulous way to introduce a new model.
BOOSTERJET Engine - in detail taken from their bumf.
The S model is the first Suzuki to be launched that utilises the new BOOSTERJET technology petrol engine which in Vitara is a 140PS 1.4-litre Direct Injection turbocharged unit (DITC). This new engine has compact dimensions and offers 220Nm of torque available from just 1,500rpm through to 4,000rpm.
The BOOSTERJET engine is a newly developed Suzuki unit that is characterised by improved fuel efficiency and driving pleasure that has been made possible by using a small displacement, high torque turbocharger. By controlling the wastegate valve, which closes to create higher boost pressure during heavy load operation and remains open during normal driving, the BOOSTERJET reduces pumping loss, thus achieving high levels of both power and fuel-efficiency. An air bypass valve is also utilised to prevent turbo ‘stall’ after the throttle has been closed and then quickly reopened.
The 1.4-litre engine employs six-hole fuel injectors and high tumble port technologies to inject fuel with a high combustion efficiency to provide greater fuel economy and improved power output.
Fuel is injected at a pressure of 200 Bar into the combustion chamber during the air intake stroke which then forms a rich mixture around the spark plug and leaner mixture around the outer edge of the piston. The tumble flow of the fuel is created by utilising a straight intake port and a complex shape piston crown design.
The BOOSTERJET engine has been developed with Suzuki’s ethos of reducing weight and size, with added response and smooth power delivery to achieve the characteristics Suzuki engines are well renowned for.
During development, Suzuki’s engineers virtually eliminated the typical delay in turbo power delivery or ‘lag’ by installing the specially developed compact turbo charger attached directly to the cylinder head as well as incorporating the exhaust manifold into the cylinder head casting. This design ensures optimum gas flow with minimal heat loss through to the turbo unit. The turbocharger has a boost pressure of 1.1 Bar.
Historically, power and torque delivery from a turbocharged engine would not have been available until much higher engine speeds, offering less flexibility to the driver.
The 1.4-litre engine offers strong benefits in performance too with a 0-62mph acceleration time of 10.2 seconds (for ALLGRIP models) for both manual and automatic transmissions and a maximum speed, where permitted, of 124mph.