REVIEW DATE: 26 Sep 2007
The 1.9-litre diesel version of Suzuki's latest Grand Vitara 5-door shows that the company is determined to be taken seriously in the compact 4x4 sector. Steve Ghosley reports
Mention Suzuki's Grand Vitara and many will conjure up visions of garishly decorated 4x4s of the kind that used to be favoured by those of questionable taste whose principal objective was to be noticed. Thankfully, those days are largely behind us now and the latest generation of Grand Vitara shows an unexpected maturity and refinement. For a model to have total credibility in this sector, however, it needs an impressive diesel in its line up. The Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.9-litre DDiS that we look at here could be just that model.
It's good to see the Vitara brand being rehabilitated after the indignities it suffered at the hands of fashion in the early nineties. The first signs of a Vitara revival came in 1998 when an all-new model was introduced. Suzuki ditched the rather frivolous short-wheelbase Vitara in 2000 and sales of the more sensible Grand started to pick up, helped by a handsome three-door Grand Vitara model introduced in 2001. Seven years is a long time for a model to survive in a sector as fast moving as the compact 4x4 market, and even the introduction of a seven-seat version couldn't punt the Grand Vitara into the premier league of big sellers. What was needed was an all-new model and when the covers came off the show car at the 2005 Frankfurt Show, it was apparent that Suzuki had been paying attention to the current trends.
The 1.9-litre diesel engine in the latest version is sourced from Renault and delivers a hefty 221 ft lbs of torque for reassuring operation both on and off road. This power makes the Grand Vitara a far more versatile proposition, with even enough power to pull a small caravan if required. The all-new permanent four-wheel drive system with differential lock and low range transfer 'box is at the heart of this Grand Vitara's accomplished performance. The intercooled and turbocharged diesel can hurry this 4x4 to 62 mph in a lively 13.2 seconds and then go on to hit a top speed of 106mph. Yet despite all this 'get up and go', the Grand Vitara 1.9-litre DDiS returns a very healthy 36.7 mpg on the combined cycle. Now available in both three and five-door guises with a manual gearbox, this diesel Vitara starts at around £18,000 as a five-door.
"This Grand Vitara has come of age and is now impossible to dismiss in the same way earlier models once were"
Despite the reasonably low asking price, this model is generously equipped and features as standard climate control air-conditioning, front and rear electric windows, an integrated radio/CD player with steering wheel mounted audio controls, tinted glass, a tilt adjustable steering, reclining rear seats, heated and folding door mirrors, an immobiliser, alloy wheels and front fog lights. There is also the security of front, side and curtain airbags for front seat occupants, plus ESP and rear curtain airbags for the rear passengers.
The neat, minimal front end styling is very appealing, while the sculpted wheel arches and clever use of curves and angles in the car's glasshouse gives it a very contemporary look. The Grand Vitara has a unique body construction featuring a lightweight monocoque design without a separate chassis. A built-in ladder frame provides a stiff platform which ensures that this SUV has the rigidity to match the most traditional of off roaders. Longer, taller and wider than its predecessor, it improves on its packaging still further, offering decent space for taller rear seat passengers. A side-hinged tailgate features a separately opening rear window section so you'll be able to sling a couple of bags in if space is tight in the multi-storey.
The interior has been given a radical rethink. Gone are the acres of black or grey plastics as seen in the old Grand Vitara and in its place comes a far more stylish duotone finish to the dashboard. The three-spoke steering wheel is an attractive design and can be configured with wheel-mounted controls for the stereo. The centre console features clean design and effective ergonomics while the instrument binnacle contains the speedometer in the middle ringed by a metallic finish. The rev counter sits on one side and the minor dials on the other, creating an interesting three-dimensional effect.
Soft touch plastics are used for the door tops and the grab handles and many of the oddments trays feature damped actions for their lids, helping to further reinforce the impression of quality. The Grand Vitara has been designed with utility in mind too. There are three 12v power outlets fitted as standard - one in the boot and two in the front of the cabin so that should put paid to arguments over whether the 'phone or the iPod gets priority. The side-opening tailgate also incorporates an interesting function whereby it will open to 65 degrees to an initial detent so that the luggage bay can still be accessed and traffic can still see the tail lights. Pull it again and it will swing open through the full 90-degree arc.
Suzuki's sticker price for the five-door Grand Vitara 1.9-litre DDiS is as much as £3,000 less than some of its nearest rivals. With this advantage and having upped its game in all departments, the Grand Vitara can now really begin to challenge the Japanese market leaders Nissan, Toyota and Honda. With clean, muscular styling, generous equipment levels and improved build quality, this compact 4x4 has come of age and is now impossible to dismiss in the same way earlier models once were.
The results below show the top GRAND VITARA deals on buyacar
|Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.9 DDiS 5dr diesel estate|
|Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.4 SZ4 3dr Auto estate|
|Price £15,861||Save £2,524|
|Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.6 SZ4 3dr estate|
|Price £14,448||Save £2,222|
|Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.4 SZ5 5dr Auto estate|
|Price £18,571||Save £4,054|
|Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.6 SZ3 3dr estate|
|Price £13,891||Save £2,089|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT GRAND VITARA DEALS|
|For GRAND VITARA DDiS DIESEL RANGE|
|OVERALL||6.9 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||6|
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