Suzuki Grand Vitara
road test

The Grand Vitara is a stand-out winner!

With a bullet-proof reputation such as that which is attached to the Suzuki brand, the question arises ..... can Suzuki do it again with another new product?

The recently released Grand Vitara replaces a model which was a steady performer on the Australian sales charts.

But with Suzuki's overall sales increasing, it can be assumed that Suzuki is likely to expect more from its new products. With this background, a drive in the new Grand Vitara is going to be an interesting excursion.

Immediately, though, the impression is gained that Suzuki has, indeed, done it again. The Grand Vitara is well composed and very predictable. It has a comfortable manner and a confident stance which is very apparent as soon as you're underway in this attractive 4x4 wagon.

At 4.5 metres long (approximately) and weighing in at 1.6 tonnes (approx) this compact 5-door wagon is a good compromise in the size department. There is no excess weight to unduly carry with you on your travels. The sizing provides a roomy cabin, in both the front and rear. The seats are comfortable and so, too, is the ride.

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Suzuki Grand Vitara
Location: Martinsville NSW

The manual gearbox, whilst not in the sports car category (as you would imagine), is an effective component in the total package and it works well, as it is smooth and easy to use for drivers of all shapes and sizes.

The brakes are discs up the front and drums in the rear and it is a good combination that works well in a package of this size.

The rack and pinion steering is very good. Many readers will recognise that rack and pinion steering is not at all new, yet not all vehicles have this modern day system. This system, though, is one of numerous important elements which contribute to the driver's comfort levels and to the ease of driving, which is a strong point on the new Grand Vitara.

The controls are simple and they are easy to use, just as you would expect with a Suzuki.

The Grand Vitara line-up starts with a 3-door wagon (1.6 litre 4-cylinder manual) and progresses to numerous 5-door wagons (2-litre 4-cylinder manual and automatic plus the 2.7 litre V6 manual and automatic).

The test car, on this occasion, is the 5-door fitted with the 2.7 litre V6 engine and manual transmission.

Power with the 2.7 litre V6 isn't plentiful, but adequate. It couldn't be considered underpowered, but you certainly do recognise that it isn't overpowered. The advantage of having an engine which provides adequate power, rather than too much power, is the economy. The combined cycle (Australian standard ADR81/01) is rated at 11.1 litres per 100 kms, which for a petrol-engined 4x4 is very good. The urban cycle comes in at 14.9 litre per 100 kms, whilst the extra-urban is an amazing 8.9 litres/100 kms! Petrol powered crossover vehicles and 4x4s are not the most fuel efficient cars on the road, but at least Suzuki manages to minimise the pain.

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Suzuki Grand Vitara
Location: Martinsville NSW

And the purchase price causes no pain either. At $30,990 (RRP), the 2.7 litre V6 manual Grand Vitara represents excellent value. This is a real 4x4, which is easy on the driver and provides pleasant on-road qualities. Sure, at this price you don't get factory alloy wheels ($1,000 will get them though) and it misses out on cruise control and a CD stacker but it does come with standard ABS with EBD, power steering, air conditioning, electric windows, central locking, single disc CD player and the mandatory cup/bottle holders.

The 3-door 4-cylinder Grand Vitara models begin at $23,990 (RRP).

The 5-door comes in White or one of 7 optional metallic or 'pearl' finishes.

Although we conducted our 1,131 km drive programme on city, suburban and regional roads in the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Sydney areas without any off-roading on this occasion, the reputation of Suzuki is well known and we'll have another test of the new Grand Vitara in which we will be heading off-road in the not too distant future.

But reflecting back on our on-road drive programme, we must conclude, just as indicated a little earlier, that Suzuki, with this new Grand Vitara has definately done it again! Another well priced package that does its job efficiently, just as it was designed to do!

Having said that, though, we did find fault with the Grand Vitara. When you close the large rear door an unpleasant noise comes along .... a tinny noise, which doesn't reflect well on the overall quality of the car. The only other problem we discovered was a rattly luggage cover. Neither of these problems equate to much when you consider the price of the Grand Vitara.

The Suzuki brand is unmatched for value. Few, if any, have been able to consistantly offer real competition to each of the numerous products in the Suzuki line-up. Good design, reliability, good fuel economy, reasonable performance, durability and popularity are the admirable qualities which each of the Suzuki products possess.

It is no surprise to me that the new Grand Vitara performs in a manner which enhances the already abundant qualities of Suzuki. In its market segment, the Grand Vitara is a stand-out winner, offering excellent value and providing a good drive, with real 4-wheel drive!

Stephen Walker
9th May, 2006

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Suzuki Grand Vitara
Location: Homebush Bay NSW

Other Suzuki news: here.


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