16.4 L/ 100km
What is it?
A turbocharged version of the regular Vitara compact SUV – powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine that produces 103kW of power at 5500rpm and 220Nm of torque between 1500-4000rpm. While they're not huge numbers, they make a world of difference compared with the regular Vitara models that have 17kW less power and 64Nm less torque.
What are its rivals?
With more equipment, the stronger engine and a $5000 higher price tag, the Turbo S compares with the mid-spec variants of the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and top spec turbocharged Holden Trax.
How much is it?
The Vitara S Turbo is priced from $28,990 (plus on-road costs) for the in front-wheel drive version or $32,990 (+ORCs) for the four-wheel drive version.
What gear does it get?
For the extra cash (over the regular Vitara models) you get some subtle exterior changes, such as black 17-inch alloy wheels, revised grille, satin silver door mirrors with built-in turning indicator lights, and LED headlights/daytime running lights. Inside, there are leather/suede seats, parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with red stitching, keyless entry and start, automatic headlights and rain sensing wipers, and the turbocharged engine.
Standard equipment also includes a touchscreen multimedia system with rear camera, integrated sat-nav, Apple CarPlay connectivity (no Android Auto), climate control, Bluetooth/USB, cruise control, folding door mirrors, an auto up and down window for the driver, cruise control, red highlights around the cabin air vents (you can colour code the plastic inserts around the dash).
You also get seven airbags and a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
What's it like to drive?
This and the regular Vitara are chalk and cheese. The gripes we had on the entry model were around the lacklustre performance of the engine, bouncy ride, cheap feeling cabin, technical gremlins in the multimedia system, seats you sat 'on', not 'in' and an overall feeling that the Vitara was off the pace when compared to rivals.
With the Turbo S, however, all those issues are gone. The engine is free of lag at low speed which means power delivery is strong and available from low revs and (with the boost of the turbo) is quite strong in the mid range. The engine is surprisingly quiet, even under hard acceleration, and actually has a 'sporty' note to it. It matches well to the six-speed automatic, which comes with paddle shifters on the steering wheel if you want to change gears 'manually' during some sporty driving.