Car buyers' guide: Small 4x4s

By Jack Biddle

Suzuki Vitara. Photo / Supplied
Suzuki Vitara. Photo / Supplied

Suzuki Vitara ticks boxes but fuel consumption on the high side.

The dilema:

After living in the UK, and driving a Suzuki Jimny, Marie is home and after some new wheels.

Actually, she's quite keen on the Skoda Yeti.

"It hasn't been around for very long and I haven't heard much about it on the grapevine," says Marie.

As she lives in Northland, she's after a vehicle that can cope with rough roads and a bit of gravel.

While the Jimny is a reliable and tough vehicle it's hardly built for comfort so you are certainly going to enjoy the benefits of any vehicle with a longer wheel base and a chassis design more in tune with your everyday driving needs.

The Yeti is high on build quality, practicality, safety and occupant comfort levels are a given with this vehicle. There are two power unit options available, the 1.2 litre turbo petrol engine or the 1.9 litre diesel which also comes standard with 4WD.

Depending on the severity of the roads you are going to be travelling over, the later may be worth consideration.

The budget:
$40,000

The shortlist

Skoda Yeti

While your budget does not stretch to a new diesel (currently $48,000 for the auto or just over $45,000 for the manual), my recommendation would be to look for one that has the lowest odometer possible and still covered by the manufactures new-car warranty.

A high mileage petrol version with its small turbocharged engine combined with its smooth but complicated Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) transmission may become slightly high risk, especially living in the Far North where finding an approved service dealer may be difficult.

With a power output of just 77kW the petrol engine may also need to be pushed to get the required performance and therefore make the claimed combined fuel consumption of just 6.4 l/100km difficult to achieve on a regular basis.

The exterior looks of the Yeti can polarise some people as can the badge, but overall it's worthy of consideration.

Peugeot 4008

If you want to stay with the European brands then consider the all-new Peugeot 4008. It's based on the Mitsubishi ASX with subtle cosmetic and suspension changes to retain the Euro presence and flair.

Your budget will get you behind the wheel of a new 2.0 litre, 2WD petrol variant.

The Constant Variable Transmission (CVT) may take a little getting used to but mates well with the engine to achieve a respectable combined claimed fuel consumption of 7.7 l/100km. A petrol 4WD option is also available new for around $47,000.

Suzuki Vitara

The current retail price of $39,990 for the 2.4 SP Edition 5-Door Auto (with full-time 4X4) is inclusive of those hidden on-road costs most other new car distributors add onto their advertised prices so no surprises in that regard. The Vitara is the more robust and powerful option (122kW) if those Northland roads are severe and driven on a regular basis.

Overall ride quality will not be as good but the Vitara comes very well equipped in terms of safety and driver comforts. A claimed fuel consumption of 9.9 l/100km on the lower 91 octane fuel is however on the high side.

- NZ Herald

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