I first drove the bigger 4×4 Suzuki, the Grand Vitara, at the Bass Lake 4×4 off-road academy.
It was a case of: Love at first obstacle. The car is just so impressive off-road.
I loved the Grand Vitara so much I bought one for my wife. A bit like the guy who bought his wife a power drill.
Fortunately my wife loves the car as well, preferring to use the GV even in town.
Australia’s caradvice.com says: “ small-budget, mid-sized SUV practicality with big off-roading capabilities… best dual-purpose 4×4 SUV. ”
That about sums it up. I would add that it has a sort of old school charm.
Its three big selling points are:
car like size and handling in town and
It is a neat looking slightly boxy SUV. The Summit model comes with 225/60 R18 road orientated tyres which look good in town, but I would have preferred 65R17 ATs. The gearbox in the Suzuki Grand Vitara is a brilliant 4 mode full low range 4×4 unit which reminds one of the Pajero.
Ground clearance is 200mm, but you can add 40mm spacers and arrival and departure angles are good. So although the normally aspirated petrol engine only delivers 122kW and 225Nm, the kerb weight of 1670kg, shortish wheelbase, giving a good breakover angle, and gearing allows you to go anywhere effortlessly whether cruising on the highway or crawling up a rocky Richtersveld track.
Sand is a breeze. I have never felt the engine is a bit ‘pap’ or experienced a situation where the car has not had enough power. This includes a trip up to Kgalagadi drving on their 4×4 dune crossing trails.
Expect fuel consumption around the 11 litre per kilometre mark, dropping slightly on the open road.
In town it is as nippy as a small sedan, but with the added convenience of the height. It really is easy to drive and park. The boot is not very big when the rear bench seat is up but in the real world I found I always had enough space. When my wife and I go on long camping trips we take out either both rear seats or one of them (it has a 40/60 split) which gives you plenty of space.
Visibility forward and to the rear is clear and superb. The seats are comfortable and the driving position excellent. While the interior is not as good or modern as the Mazda CX-5 for example, it is functional and well put together. The rear parking camera is useful.
The Grand Vitara is big enough for 4 adults to tour in comfort.
It is a genuine 4×4 with a full low range transfer case. All the other vehicles of its size and price offer at best all wheel drive in normal high ratio only. The Grand Vitara has no direct competitor, but the two closest alternatives are the Toyota Prado and Mitsubishi Pajero SWB.
The GV model range starts atR369 900. Click here for prices and specs.
The model as tested, the top of the range Summit 2.4 A, is a very affordable R459 900.
The Grand Vitara is one of those models which should sell much better than it does. It is really far country capable but wieldy and small enough to be city friendly.
This Suzuki comes with a 6 year or 90 000km service plan and a 3 year or 100 000km warranty.