It's a Grand Show
I don’t know about you, but brand and model selection these days in the SUV segment ,almost becomes overwhelming when smacked in the face with all the choices. For the average Joe like myself - I am none the wiser looking at the gaggle of choices facing me. It has truly become a ‘horses for courses’ thing.
So let’s get straight into it. The Suzuki Grand Vitara has undergone a nice facelift, making it more modern and sophisticated, but still doesn’t stand out in the crowd for looks in this extremely competitive SUV market. It is by no means boring though. The Grand Vitara Summit 2.4l 4 Cylinder 122kW VVT (Variable Valve Timing) engine with its 5 Speed manual gearbox under the scope here, is mounted on 18” alloy wheels, boasts a leather interior, effortless keyless start and all the good stuff that one expects in your car. According to the spec sheet 0-100 Kph will take you an estimated 11.7 seconds, while
producing maximum power @ 6000 rpm. ABS, EBD, traction control and stability control all aid in the safety features department. By the way, Suzuki lifted the covers off some real interesting vehicles at the Tokyo International Motor show. So they have exciting stuff coming through in the looks department.
So before the journey begins, what was the experience like under normal driving conditions? I found it to be reasonable in all areas of day-to-day driving. You are not driving a monster truck, nor does it make you feel you have just purchased a toy car as a transport option. The fuel consumption was actually close to what Suzuki predicted; at around 9-10L per 100km, not the most economical, but not out of control. The seating is comfortable, all the gadgets such as cruise control, operating the media system and accessing the driver information is very user friendly, and you don’t need to spend a day reading the manual to operate it (major plus point here). Even the 4X4 selection options are literally a turn of a knob. Noise reducing and vibration absorbing materials allow for a peaceful ride and driving pleasure. Obviously it has a sunroof, and as none of us stargaze in the city, coz frankly you can’t see any stars anymore… the adventure begins when you get out of the rumbling city centres!
Here is where the Suzuki Grand Vitara comes into its own. As a greenhorn to the Vitara and off road driving, I was not sure what to expect. Often, and this was not the case with the Vitara, one finds that SUVs are launched with some outlandish claims made regarding their potential performance in the rough terrain department. Well, I was in for a very big ego boosting experience. We took the back routes looking for some rough terrain and found exactly what we were looking for. The terrain had enough rocks and steep hills to make any vehicle maker sweat over the ride comfort and capability. I must confess, on this day we were filming the Vitara and more than one attempt was made over obstacles. This is where it surprised me the most, the first major climb I tried, being a little reluctant, went as easily as I hoped it would go, not because I’m the quintessential 4x4 driving instructor, but rather owing to the cars great selection of 4X4, which it employs to do what it says it can do.
The 4x4 system with 225 Nm @ 4000 rpm max torque enables the Vitara to transmit power to all four wheels at all times. The 4H, 4H lock and 4L Lock options varies from normal driving conditions to extreme surface conditions. The ladder frame allows for a sturdy build and the ground clearance of 200mm with excellent approach and departure angles makes for good and sufficient clearance when taking on hills. Because there is no real overhang I easily had the confidence to say, ‘hey let’s try that hill’ and ‘lets drive down there’ (with all my expertise) during filming. Because the car is not as voluminous as a Marauder either, I could easily manoeuvre in between tight turns for take after take. You also don’t have to pack extra underwear thinking here goes the bumper when trying a quick ‘look what I can do’ stunt.
All and all, the Grand Vitara held up on its side of the deal, delivering good on road and excellent off road performance. Reputation boosting off road ability has definitely made me a Grand Vitara fan, from here on out. In hindsight, it’s no wonder why Vitara owners rarely buy other makes when exposed to the grand Vitara range, or otherwise never sell their Vitara’s, as these cars are built to please in every aspect.
Prices start at R307 900 – R 322 900 for the Dune manual and auto models whilst the Summit manual and auto will put you back R 369 900 and R 384 900 respectively. Vehicles have a manufactures warranty for 3years/100 000km and a 6 year/90 000km service plan.
Go on, be an outdoors (wo)man!
OUT OF OFFICE | CAR REVIEW
by Tom Viljoen
* Prices as at date of publishing