Conflicting reports emanate on the 2022 Suzuki Vitara (Hybrid)

Spanish automotive media, including Motor.es, have been reporting that the next-gen Suzuki Vitara is confirmed for the local market in 2021. Juan López Frade, president of Suzuki Ibérica, is quoted in stories confirming three launches for the Spanish market this year and that one of them is the new Vitara. The launch of the 2021 Suzuki Vitara is scheduled in Autumn (September – December), as per the reports.

If the COVID-19 outbreak hadn’t caused a delay, the 2021 Suzuki Vitara would have debuted (global debut) in October 2020, said bestcarweb.jp. The Vitara is now among the oldest vehicles in the SUV segment, and the replacement couldn’t come at a better time.

However as per a new article by Austrian site Die Motorprofis that previews future Suzuki models in an exclusive story, the current Vitara is set to continue with changes including a hybrid powertrain. It adds that the next-gen Vitara is set to come out in 2024, 10 years after the current generation compact SUV was introduced at the Paris Motor Show.

In this story, we compile information reported so far on the new Vitara, which hasn’t yet made its spy photo debut. Note that Suzuki has offered no hints on the lifecycle of the Vitara.

Exterior

The Suzuki Vitara is expected to look more SUV-like than rivals in its fifth generation. The Japanese publication BestCarWeb has suggested a fresh design (viewable in rendering on the source link above) comprising a brawnier front-end with more aggressive headlamps and taller radiator grille, a noticeably rising waistline, a kick on the D-pillar and a rakish back glass. Visual changes on the sides and the rear lend a sportier character to the small SUV.

AspectCurrent Suzuki Vitara2021 Suzuki Vitara
Length4,175 mm4,200 mm
Width1,775 mm1,780 mm
Height1,610 mm1,620 mm
Wheelbase2,500 mm2,500 mm
Expected New Vitara specifications based on Japanese web reports.

The current Suzuki Vitara measures 4,175 mm in length, 1,775 mm in width and 1,610 mm in height. It has a wheelbase of 2,500 mm. The all-new Suzuki Vitara is expected to be 4,200 mm long, 1,780 mm wide, and 1,620 mm tall and have the same wheelbase. The competition will include models like Hyundai Kona, Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008, Citroen C3 Aircross, and VW T-Cross.

If it is just a comprehensive facelift, expect new plastic parts and perhaps a different bonnet to unlock freshness in the Vitara.

Interior

2020 Suzuki Vitara mild hybrid interior UK
The interior of the current Suzuki Vitara looks dated and lacks a lot of features offered in sub-compact SUVs. Image: Suzuki

More significant changes in the Vitara can be expected on the inside, as the current model does not stack up with the competition in equipment. Fully digital instrument cluster with customisable layouts, HD, capacitive touchscreen, electronic parking brake, wireless charging, configurable mood lighting, 4G LTE Wi-FI hotspot and minimalist design are common features on B-SUVs today. While Suzuki would probably skim on some of these for cost concerns, it would need to at least meet halfway with large screens for the instruments and AVN, and have connected vehicle features.

2021 Suzuki Vitara engine

The next-gen Suzuki Vitara will likely ride on an improved version of the current platform. The current K14D 1.4-litre Boosterjet petrol unit should serve the next-gen model.

The K14D engine is essentially an enhanced version of the K14C and is equipped with a fuel-saving mild-hybrid system called the Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki (SHVS). The SHVS’s battery pack is a 48-volt unit with 8 Ah of capacity. An electric motor generating 10 kW (13.6 PS) and 50 Nm of torque using the energy stored in this battery pack assists the engine with various functions like torque-fill control, torque boost and idle stop.

Suzuki Vitara Hybrid

Leveraging its partnership with Toyota, the global leader in partially electric vehicles, Suzuki plans to have a greater level of electrification in SUVs. Following the Suzuki ACross (the rebadged RAV4 PHEV), the Vitara could benefit from Toyota’s advanced hybrid system or the in-house developed system announced during the mid-term plan revealed in February.

A proper hybrid such as the Toyota Hybrid System (THS) would mean the Suzuki Vitara packing a significantly higher voltage secondary battery pack with more capacity. The mild hybrid’s battery pack is limited to 48 volts, but in the case of a full hybrid, it can be up to 600. So, unlike MHEVs, HEVs can be driven using only the battery. Some HEVs, like the Toyota C-HR, for instance, allows the driver to manually engage EV mode where for a few minutes the car can move without the engine cutting in.

Hybrid in 2022, PHEV in 2024?

According to a report from Die Motorprofis, the Suzuki Vitara with a full-hybrid system will be launched in January next year. However, it states that it will be the current-gen model that gets the hybrid powertrain and that a completely new (next-gen) Vitara is planned for launch in 2024.

The Die Motorprofis report details that the full-hybrid powertrain Suzuki plans to introduce in January will be based on a 1.5-litre gasoline engine and come with AWD. The next-gen model following three years later in 2024 will be available with a plug-in hybrid system, it concludes.

2020 Suzuki Vitara mild hybrid rear quarters UK
Will Suzuki stretch the tenure of the current-gen Vitara to mid-decade through comprehensive changes, including a full-hybrid powertrain? Images: Suzuki

Suzuki electrification strategy

From the announcements it has made so far, the company is not bullish on electric vehicles in the first half of the decade. The Japanese automaker is expanding its portfolio of 48-volt mild-hybrid vehicles while relying on Toyota for its European hybrid and plug-in hybrid models.

In the announcement on February 24 on the mid-term plan (Apr 2021 – Mar 2026), Suzuki provided an outline. It said with regard to CO2 emissions, it would develop electrification technologies by 2025, and implement these in vehicles from 2025, and make full-scale quantitative increase from 2030. Over the next five years it has committed to invest ¥1 trillion into R&D, such as electrification.

Suzuki’s current HEVs and PHEVs are cross-badged/reskinned Toyotas, but future HEVs include models designed and manufactured in-house. The collaborative business agreement between Suzuki and Toyota does include sourcing the latter’s hybrid system (Toyota Hybrid System) for Suzuki models. In the next five years, expect to see Toyota’s tech lurking underneath more mainstream Suzukis.

Featured image: Suzuki