The Suzuki Grand Vitara is something of an enigma. Despite having been around more or less since 2005 – it was facelifted in 2008 just after Suzuki re-entered the South African market – it does not immediately spring mind when thinking soft-roaders (average sales over the last six months is 34 but it is picking up). And therein perhaps lays the problem. One can hardly call Suzuki dedicated followers of fashion because this latest facelift is minor – but then again, there is little, if anything, wrong with what already exists. They are not two-a-penny on our roads so no fear of being just one of a crowd of – let’s face it – a market place full of lookalike SUVs.
But it is the ‘soft’ moniker that perhaps confuses the issue. The Grand Vitara boasts an all-wheel drive system that incorporates a low-range transfer case and convenient, electronic switching between 4×4 modes. Combined with a 200 mm ground clearance, short front and rear overhangs and long-travel suspension endow it offers excellent off-road capability – better than most drivers will ever put to the test. The system employs a torque-sensing centre differential that varies drive between the front and rear axles depending on road conditions and driving style. For more challenging terrain, the diff can be locked to further boost traction and stability. In extreme off-road conditions, low-range can be selected further increase all-terrain capability.
The new model gets a freshened-up grille and a revised front bumper with a more aggressive lower air intake. Base model is the well-equipped Dune, which rides on new 17-inch alloys. Inside, seats and door panels are trimmed in a new black fabric. The up-spec Summit rides on 18-ich wheels and features a sunroof, auto-sensing HID headlamps, cruise control, keyless ignition and leather upholstery amongst other luxury comfort and convenience features.
All models are powered by a 2.4-litre VVT petrol four delivering 122kW at 6000rpm and 225Nm of torque at 4000rpm. There is a choice of five-speed manual of four-speed auto transmissions. Performance figures are 0-100kph in 11.7secs, top speed 180kph, 8.9ℓ/100km and CO2 212g/km for the manual, and 12.0/170/234/9.9 respectively for the auto. On the road, the engine feels lacking in grunt. Supple suspension provides a soft ride but the high seating position accentuates some body roll when pressing-on through corners. But this is not a performance machine – get off the beaten track and its attributes are far more appreciable.
A bit of a sleeper, the Grand Vitara…
Grand Vitara Dune MT R298 900
Grand Vitara Dune AT R313 900
Grand Vitara Summit MT R358 900
Grand Vitara Summit AT R373 900
Prices include a three-year/100000km warranty and a six-year/90000 km service plan.