The UTV is a workhorse on many rural properties, but the asking prices — $15,000 to $30,000 — cause some farmers to baulk. So imported Japanese micro-trucks or conversions of more mainstream vehicles are gaining ground.
The vehicle is expected to build on the success of the normally aspirated five door SUV introduced in late 2015.
"The small SUV segment showed a 28% growth in 2015 and shows no signs of letting up," said Gary Collins, general manager of automobile marketing at Suzuki NZ. "And in 2016 to date the Vitara is the bestselling sub-$40,000 small SUV."
Two versions of the Turbo, both with six speed automatic transmission, go on sale with the choice of 2WD or the flagship AWD with a choice of auto, sport, snow and lock modes taking information from accelerator and steering angle sensors to adjust for different terrain.
Strong acceleration and a ticket-attracting top speed of 200km/h, a newly designed 1.4L direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder, double overhead camshaft engine provides rocket performance. It suffers minimal turbo lag due to the turbocharger being mounted directly on the cylinder head.
Compared to the standard versions, engine output is up 20% to 103 kW, and torque by 41% to 220 Nm compared to the normally aspirated 1.6L engined Vitara.
"Peak torque is available from 1500-4000 rpm, giving the Turbo great on-road performance," said Collins. "As one of the lightest SUVs, with a class-leading power to weight ratio, fuel economy is outstanding, test cycles returning 5.9L/100km".
The Turbo is characterized by a unique grille, 17-inch gloss black alloy wheels, satin-finished door mirrors, red headlamp surrounds and red detailing to the interior trim.
It has satellite navigation-equipped infotainment with Apply CarPlay, leather seats with suede inserts and red stitching, cruise control with speed limiter, keyless entry and ignition, climate control air conditioning, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, steering wheel sound system controls, LED daytime running lights, automatic wipers and power windows and mirrors.
For safety there are parking sensors front and rear, reversing camera, auto-levelling and dusk-sensing LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, seven airbags, stability control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and emergency brake assist.