Suzuki Grand Vitara review (2005 onwards model) – MSN Cars UK

22 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Suzuki Grand Vitara review (2005 onwards model) – MSN Cars UK

Suzuki Grand Vitara

review (2005 onwards model)

Back in 1989, if you wore white socks with jeans, you’d think a Suzuki Vitara the coolest thing in the world. But times change. Even Paul Weller has dumped the sports socks and is now being played on the CD player of a Freelander or RAV4.

1998’s Grand Vitara replacement hardly had the look to inspire the style council. But now Suzuki’s back and ready to jam.

The all-new model really is just that. And what a different beast it looks.

At first it’s a game of ‘spot the cue’; the three-door profile apes the RAV4, rear lights of the five-door are Jeep Grand Cherokee (they’re Toyota Corolla Verso on the three-door), front grille is VW Touareg, three-door’s B-pillar resembles the old Vauxhall Frontera and so on. But proportionally it’s appealing, with a broad, wheel-at-each-corner stance and, if you cast your mind back, cues from the original Vitara emerge too.

Check out the shape of the headlights and the cut-out in the side of the bonnet. Three-door models sit on a shorter wheelbase than five-doors but both share a 4×4-trademark tailgate-mounted spare wheel. Triangulated rhino cover optional.

Taut suspension settings and quick, eager steering mean it can be zapped through bends accurately and with confidence. There is some roll there but it’s dealt with quickly and cleanly, enough to switch your attentions to the response it offers to the steering. Because you turn, and it turns – the stodge and sloth of the old model is gone, and even among more modern 4x4s, it’s able.

The above applies to the five-door though; for the shorter wheelbase three-door, amplify that response to slight nervousness, so keen is it to dive into corners. Sporty, certainly, but maybe too much for some.

The three-door’s ride is also less composed. Both are characterised by taught suspension settings that filter harshness effectively, but don’t fully settle on undulating British roads. It’s not uncomfortable but can become choppy at times.

The Grand Vitara cruises well though, with correction-free steering, a planted feel and low wind noise. It’s the engines that create the kerfuffle. Initially just two petrol units are offered, a 106bhp 1.6-litre and 140bhp 2.0-litre.

The former is particularly buzzy at speed, with short gearing creating a monotonous drone. It’s even less appealing when accelerating as the engine takes on a shrieking nature. Not ideal.

It also has to be worked very hard indeed, despite your disinclination to rev it hard. It struggles to counter the Grand Vitara’s 1500kg weight.

The 2.0-litre is more relaxed and a little faster but is, if anything, less smooth. There’s some resonance at lower engine speeds, it pulses at tickover and is another one you won’t rev for fun. Fuel economy lurks in the low 30s for both, too. We’d rather wait for the forthcoming 36mpg, 130bhp Renault-sourced 1.9-litre diesel – though it will share the petrol cars’ awkward transmission.

Lethargically weighty, it’s sometimes notchy and transmits too much vibration from the running gear. At least the clutch is light – as are the brakes, unfortunately. Though they work well enough, pedal feel is sorely lacking.

Three-door models are expectedly cramped and claustrophobic in the hard-to-access rear. Five-door models are better, with comfortable levels of space; the only flaw is a too-soft, unsupportive rear seat back. High-set front seats combine with low sides to give a good view out – even though it’s not as tall as before, the stance is lofty. The dash is tidy and well-built, if plasticky, and the backlit dials are clear.

Equipment is excellent; all come with climate control, CD player, electric windows and alloys, though stability control is optional. A full range of accessories, including side steps and styling kits, will be available as dealer-fit options. Overall, it’s the solid feel that impresses most. The stiff structure is appreciated on the road as there’s barely a creak from the trim even when off-roading.

It feels built to last and, thus, a quality item.

Is it a hit? It’s a huge improvement over the old model, proving better to a surprising degree. There remain issues with the engines but these may be cured when the diesel arrives, even though the price premium is rumoured to be a stiff £2,000. Mind you, petrol cars have price on their side; £12,699 for the three-door is an absolute bargain, while the £15,499 five-door is also keen.

By bringing the Grand Vitara into the modern world for such old-world prices, Suzuki may well realise its aim of moving up the sales charts.

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