I’ve absolutely no desire to drive around Australia… but with this I’d make an exception! 106



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I’ve absolutely no desire to drive around Australia, an admission I concede borders on treason and is at the very least, un-Australian.

There are an abundance of places I’d love to drive or fly to and stay for a while but the thought of circumnavigating the nation by road sends me to sleep.

This is because I’ve seen a fair slice of the sunburnt country and know that in between the good bits, there are an awful lot of boring bits.

Good luck and safe travel to all those who have done it, are doing it or plan to do it. I just won’t be joining you around the campfire anytime soon.

Thus as we waved the neighbours goodbye as they left on their odyssey around Australia in their motorhome, it was not with any sense of envy, which brings me to the Suzuki Vitara they were towing.

Why tow a Suzuki? Because when they checked into a camping ground, they were able to set up their annexe, plug the motorhome into the facilities and then leave it parked, exploring the region in the Suzuki.


For years, the Suzuki SUV has been the vehicle of choice for travellers due to its versatility, durability and affordability.

The badge disappeared from showrooms in 1998, leaving only the Grand Vitara to carry the off-road colors for Suzuki but the Vitara remained popular on the second hand market.

Now it’s back, reborn as three models, the 2WD five speed manual at $22,990, the six speed automatic at $24,990 and the six speed all wheel drive auto GLX at $33,990.

Only one engine is offered, a 1.6-litre non-turbo petrol powerplant producing a modest 86kW of power at 6000rpm and 156Nm of torque at 4400rpm.

The Vitara is a relative lightweight at 1075kg in front-wheel drive form which helps Suzuki claim fuel consumption of between 5.8 litres and 6.3 litres per 100km, which is achievable in the real world.

Standard equipment includes a seven inch touchscreen with satnav and reversing camera, cruise control, 17-inch alloy rims and seven airbags.

There’s plenty of cabin storage up front with good size door pockets and cupholders, a space for phones and oddments, a proper glovebox and a holder for sunglasses.

The price premium for the GLX is justified by its on-demand four-wheel drive system, huge sunroof, leather and suede trim, front and rear parking sensors, auto wipers and headlights.

All models are five star safety rated by EuroNCAP.

Owners can also personalise their Vitaras by getting their dealer to fit either blue, orange, silver or black plastic inserts in the dash, console and air conditioning vents with a black-roofed two tone paint scheme also available.

Give its overall dimensions – it’s only 4175mm long which is 325mm shorter than a Grand Vitara with its width of 1775mm being 35mm less- there’s quite reasonable leg room and foot room and there’s 375 litres of luggage space with the rear splitfold seats upright. There’s also a false floor in the rear for keeping valuables out of sight.

Visibility is excellent and handling quite sharp and nimble while the ride tends towards firm without causing discomfort.

The all wheel drive system on the GLX has four modes. These are Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock, the last named being engaged when driving in mud or sand although there is no low range.

The engine spins enthusiastically with the six speed automatic being the pick of the transmissions.

No one will ever accuse it of being overpowered and a diesel option would be nice but the petrol unit is more than up to the task.

Warranty is three years or 100,000km and servicing is capped at $1540 over three years.

The Vitara has been launched into a fiercely competitive field but it brings with it some commendable traits and should be on the small SUV shopping list.


PRICE: from $22,990

COMPETITORS: Mazda CX-3, Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi ASX, Skoda Yeti, Subaru XV, Holden Trax.

Mike O'Connor

Mike O’Connor is a Brisbane-based motoring writer, travel writer and columnist. He’s driven hundreds of different cars, travelled widely and mingled with famous people, none of whom, he confesses, can remember meeting him.

  1. So now you are selling cars? Don’t want to see this stuff on my favourite page. So disappointed!!

  2. We have a four wheel drive grand vitara. Great to flat tow,which is what we’re doing as we travel around Oz…lol. Looks like they’ve gone backwards and makes mine a better product to sell.

  3. I have no desire to drive around Australia and nothing will change my mind

    4 REPLY
    • Me neither, too many dusty, dry places between the good ones, I would rather fly there and stay in a hotel of cabin. With the price of a caravan something to tow it and the petrol it would be cheaper to fly.

    • It’s the dusty places where the interest is – that’s the history – better to see it in person than in a museum or on some edited TV program.

  4. Actually, m have fond memories of Suzuki 4WD/ My first 4WD was a Suzuki LJ50. 3 cylinder 2 stroke. About as basic as you could get.

  5. At this stage of my life I would not want to live out of a van of any shape or size, too much trouble, too much money, too boring and nowhere to park it when I’m home.

  6. @ SAS Sorry, this is an advertisement and I think it inappropriate.

    5 REPLY
    • Fred Davies I understand, Fred. But is it the beginning of a slippery slope? What will be the next ad? Will SAS end up just ads? That would certainly not be what the original purpose was.

    • I saw it as an ad but I am not prone to taking notice of them but it could be a good point to not encourage advertisements.

  7. I have no desire to drive around all of Australia at all, have seen some wonderful areas and would go back to many. I’m happy to do the Great Ocean Road trip between S.A. and Vic. taking time and stopping where the mood takes you as it’s a pretty stress free trip.

  8. I’ve traveled a lot of Australia with the exhusband and it’s a beautiful country. Would love to do more as it was my dream but now on my own it will never happen….I love the van life…

    8 REPLY
    • Don’t let being on your own put you off, there are a lot of solo travellers out there doing it.. Good reliable car and a cheapest van and a sense of adventure is all you need, you will meet some great people so won’t be on your own..

    • Not in a modern Caravan Jan! You have everything….toilet, shower, aircon, washing machine, microwave you name it they’ve got it….no suitcases involved all clothes are hanging and in draws…..you would be surprised how good it can be…I loved it before I divorced….to hard now I’m on my own😪

    • Jan Knighton you live out of a suitcase when you travel quickly, by plane & staying in hotels. We had a 5 star caravan & parked in million star places!

    • Cheryl Bell Willard as long as you are not a single woman, be suprised how many friends i have that are single and get a hard time, from women, a single woman is ccompetition

  9. Id rather go everywhere in Australia,Tasmania and New Zealand than anywhere else in the world.Only interested in my own country and NZ.

    7 REPLY
    • Don’t know what your missing,I’ve done both give me OS anytime,opens your eyes & your mind gives you culture don’t get that travelling OZ…

    • No it is not nonsense to me,love travel started oz as a kid as parents were travellers went across the Nullarbor when unmade much better when made,have travelled oz extensively since now now just go to Q/ land to family done enough of oz,but love OS travel have been doing it for 35 years or so,but we are travellers get down & dirty with the locals we get out & see the place do not sit around a pool all day but that is also nice with a cocktail,have done all Asia ,Europe lots of countries,Middle East,Vanuatu pacific islands,America,most of Canada,Hawaii,Turkey,ect love the diversity of OS travel,but each to his own 76 still travelling.. Cheers!

  10. I’m quite happy to see Australia but I would fly to the destinations instead of driving in the hot climate.

    4 REPLY
    • Don’t do it the hot weather, rather in winter months. We usually travel for 3 months in winter each year and have seen most of this wonderful country, but definitely not “around Australia”.

    • We both got our pilots license with that in mind, to fly over the boring bits. We ran out of money before we could do it though.

    • When you fly you miss all the bits in between, there are no boring bits just an ever changing landscape – Australia, beautiful one day, perfect the next.m

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