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A word about the Suzuki Vitara press release

The fourth-generation model has been launched in the Philippines

The smaller, fourth-generation Suzuki Vitara drops the 'Grand' from its name. PHOTO FROM SUZUKI

Suzuki Philippines officially launched the fourth-generation Vitara in our market on November 9th. It was an event I missed due to a prior commitment. This being the case, I had to rely on the press release distributed to the media, which made its way to my mailbox the following day.

I wasn’t able to publish the story right away because the press release came with two pictures of company executives flanking the car, or what I like to call “firing squad” photos. There were no other images of the Vitara which a potential buyer might want to see—because, you know, said buyer is probably interested in the vehicle, not the people selling it.

We hear Suzuki cars are selling really well these days. The new Vitara will only add to the numbers. Which possibly explains the knowing grin on these men's faces. PHOTO FROM SUZUKI

These dudes, according to the press release, are Suzuki Philippines (SPH) managing director and treasurer Norminio Mojica, Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) Asia Automobile Department general manager Shigeo Takezawa, SPH president Hiroshi Suzuki, SPH Automobile Division general manager Shuzo Hoshikura, SMC Global Automobile Planning Department general manager Nobutaka Suzuki, and SPH assistant general manager Cecil Capacete.


So I sent a request to the PR agency: “Do you have high-resolution photos of the Vitara? Just the Vitara. Press shots. Not necessarily from the event.”

I then got three front angled shots of the car in three different colors, one of which you see at the top of this article. I liked the blue paint job, which is officially called Atlantis Turquoise Pearl and offered on the top GLX variant. A so-called Atlantis Turquoise Pearl Metallic is said to be available on the two lower variants (GL+ and GL). No idea how these shades are different, other than the fact that the first one is “two-tone” (as indicated in the press release).

UPDATE: So, apparently, “Atlantis Turquoise Pearl” and “Atlantis Turquoise Pearl Metallic” are one and the same color. The “two-tone” in the press release refers to the different roof colors on the GLX variant.

Other exterior colors are Horizon Orange Metallic and Bright Red Metallic (both also two-tone) for the GLX, and Cool White Pearl, Silky Silver Metallic, Galactic Gray Metallic and Cosmic Black Pearl Metallic for the GL+ and the GL.

But I really fell for the blue one. (Incidentally, turquoise is technically greenish-blue, so the hue may somewhat vary in the metal.)

So I again wrote the PR person: “Do you have other angles of the blue one? Also, interior shots?”

I got a reply three days later. A quick glance at my phone told me that the mail had multiple photo attachments. Yay!

Here are the images I received…

These images would be all right if they were teasers, not visuals for a public launch story. PHOTOS FROM SUZUKI

I had to reflect deeply. Are Suzuki peeps mad at me? Or do they now have a corporate policy that bans photos of the entire vehicle? Why would they send me close-up pictures of the new Vitara’s crevices? Are they trying to be artsy? Are there important visual highlights I’m missing here?

To be fair, they included one photograph of the whole car, which they had taken themselves (I think). Here it is, the file name being “beauty shot.”

It's always refreshing to see a whole car. PHOTO FROM SUZUKI

At this point, I realized it would be in my best interest to just look for the photos myself. Some online probing led me to the amusing discovery that the press images sent to me had actually been part of the original press pack given to the global media when the new Vitara had its world premiere in 2015.

The reason—and this is just my theory—they couldn’t give me complete rear and interior shots is that there are elements in the photos that are not present on Philippine-market units. Like the badge for Suzuki’s highly regarded AllGrip four-wheel drive system. Either the local distributor is trying to downplay the Philippine units’ front-wheel-drive setup (not mentioned anywhere in the press release), or it wasn’t happy with the pre-launch photo shoot that yielded the above “beauty shot.”

This image is that of a foreign-market 4x4 Vitara. Don't look for that AllGrip badge at the back. PHOTO FROM SUZUKI

What the press release keeps mentioning instead is that the new Vitara is the ‘longest’ and the ‘widest’ in its class. First is a quote attributed to Suzuki Philippines Automobile Division general manager Shuzo Hoshikura:

“Equipped with the longest and widest dimensions in its class with the best [turning] radius performance, the features of the new Vitara are aimed at providing the best value in terms of design, performance and fuel efficiency. Setting it apart from the competition, the subcompact SUV allows drivers to freely express their individuality and personalize their vehicles with its wide array of colors and accessory packages.”

Second is a paragraph citing the vehicle’s measurements:

The new Vitara has an overall width of 1,775mm, a height of 1,610mm, a length of 4,175mm, and a minimum ground clearance of 185mm, making it the longest and the widest in its class with the best turning radius performance.

But is this true? Is the new Vitara really the longest and the widest among all subcompact crossover SUVs in our market right now? Let’s see.

The Chevrolet Trax is 4,254mm long and 1,775mm wide. Nope.

The Ford EcoSport is 4,245mm long and 1,765mm wide. Half-check.

The Honda HR-V is 4,294mm long and 1,772mm wide. Half-check.

The Hyundai Creta is 4,270mm long and 1,780mm wide. Nope.

The Kia Soul is 4,140mm long and 1,800mm wide. Half-check.

The Mazda CX-3 is 4,275mm long and 1,765mm wide. Half-check.

The Nissan Juke is 4,135mm long and 1,765mm wide. Check.

The SsangYong Tivoli is 4,195mm long and 1,795mm wide. Nope.

These figures are all from official product literature—unless Suzuki’s product planners referred to Wikipedia, which puts the EcoSport’s overall length at 4,017mm. Even so, these facts hardly confirm the new Vitara to be “the longest and the widest in its class.”

The new Suzuki Vitara has stepped down from the bigger compact class, shedding almost 500mm in length compared to its predecessor

One might argue that while all the above small SUVs belong in the same category size-wise, Suzuki Philippines likely doesn’t consider every single one a direct competitor to the new Vitara, mainly because of differences in engine specs and pricing. The new Vitara is equipped with a 1.6-liter gasoline engine rated at 115hp and 156Nm, and a six-speed automatic transmission. It is priced at P1,048,000 for the GLX and P938,000 for the GL+ (pricing for the base GL variant will be announced later on). The HR-V and the CX-3 have superior powerplants and naturally cost much more. But the Creta sits squarely in the new Vitara’s spec/price territory, and it’s both longer and wider. So no, this Vitara isn’t really the longest and the widest among its peers.

The story here, actually, is that the Vitara has stepped down from the bigger compact class, shedding almost 500mm in length compared to its predecessor and hence dropping the “Grand” from its name. That’s not to say this model is a lesser car—just providing a proper conclusion to all this measurement talk.

The new Vitaras for our market seem decently appointed, featuring LED headlamps (halogen for GL+ and GL), 17-inch alloy wheels (16 inches for GL+ and GL), two-panel glass panoramic sunroof (GLX), keyless engine-start system, 10-inch infotainment touchscreen (7 inches for GL+ and GL), six airbags (two up front, two on the side and two curtains), antilock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability program, hill hold control, cruise control, parking sensors, and rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers.

Suzuki Philippines has sent an invite to an out-of-town drive of the new Vitara this week. Which should give us a closer look at the funky subcompact crossover. That’s if they won’t withdraw our invitation after this article.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.