What is that?
As mechanical homogeneity looms as everything becomes based on electric skateboard-style rigs, engineers seem to be seizing the moment as one last opportunity to go a little crazy with some weird and wonderful technical solutions for their new hybrids.
We’ve seen motors on the rear axle or in the gearbox, Toyota’s planetary gear, Honda’s alleged CVT and, most bizarre of all, Renault’s four-speed gearbox. Now here’s another to add to the collection: Suzuki has revived the much-maligned automated manual for its new Vitara hybrid.
Suzuki has made the Vitara compact crossover its second full hybrid model, after the Suzuki Swace. Unlike that rebadged Toyota Corolla Touring Sports estate, the Vitara’s hybrid system is entirely Suzuki’s work – and that’s not necessarily a good thing. We’d normally applaud Suzuki for charting its own course, as it applied mild hybrid power to very good effect in most of its cars, but this full hybrid isn’t so compelling.
For one, it doesn’t use the high-performance 1.4-liter turbo engine from the normal Suzuki Vitara, but an older 114-hp naturally aspirated 1.5-liter unit. And that’s assisted by a 33hp belt-driven electric motor-generator, which is pretty puny for a hybrid. Combined with the fact that it doesn’t add to the peak horsepower (it just stiffens the low-end power curve), this car actually feels more like a potent mild hybrid than a full hybrid.
The drive battery capacity of 0.84 kWh is also quite small. As already mentioned, all power is fed through a six-speed automated manual gearbox.
Suzuki offers its Allgrip all-wheel-drive system as an option on the top-of-the-line SZ5 trim.
How does it look?
The gearbox is a manual with actuators to take care of the clutch and the gear change and minus the clutch pedal and the gear lever. These boxes disappeared in the 2010s because in most applications they were slow and clunky.
It’s a technology that should have stayed dead. Thanks to the electric motor providing some torque while the gearbox does its job, at least gear changes are smooth most of the time, but upshifts are still very sluggish, especially under the wide openings of butterfly. When you demand a lot of power at rest (as you might at a busy junction), it can also take a while to give you significant acceleration.
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This notice was published: 2022-03-04 16:01:23