Suzuki Grand Vitara review review (2013 onwards) – MSN Cars UK

10 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Suzuki Grand Vitara review review (2013 onwards) – MSN Cars UK

Suzuki Grand Vitara

review review (2013 onwards)

Summary

Not the most sophisticated on-road device, but the Suzuki Grand Vitara is a proper off-roader that comes at a reasonable price.

What: Suzuki Grand Vitara 2013 three- and five-door

First impressions of the Suzuki Grand Vitara

It’s only a very minor facelift for the 2013 model year Suzuki Grand Vitara, but it’s so long since we’ve written about this enthusiastically followed compact SUV that we thought we’d catch up with the old girl.

The Grand Vitara has been around in its present guise since 2005 – meaning next year will mark the eight anniversary of the current, third generation. With the original Vitara making its debut in 1988, 2013 also represents the 4×4’s quarter century.

The return of the bootlid-mounted full-size spare wheel

Available in three- and five-door bodystyles, it remains a decidedly old school off-roader proposition. Although it now features the more modern ‘monocoque’ style of construction, this still incorporates a “built-in” ladder frame chassis, and it’s only available with four-wheel drive.

Even Suzuki is referring to the changes here as “minor”. At the front the bumper, grille and foglights have been tweaked, there are new headlight accents for the five-door version, and new 17- and 18-inch alloy wheel designs.

Perhaps more significantly, the top spec SZ5 variant now includes satellite navigation as standard – the first time any such fully integrated unit has been available on a Suzuki in the UK, excepting some limited special editions.

Most buyers, however, are more likely to rejoice at the return of the bootlid-mounted full-size spare wheel. Suzuki has listened to customer feedback and elected to reintroduce this, in place of a puncture repair kit. A long-standing part of the Grand Vitara’s chunky appeal, this is an endearing physical feature.

Suzuki

Performance

To try this latest version of the Grand Vitara, Suzuki has flown us out to Croatia – giving us the opportunity to test it both on-road and up mountain, tackling rocky passes as well as the local equivalent of ‘smooth’ asphalt.

The three-door short wheelbase variants is available with a choice of 106hp 1.6-litre or 166hp 2.4-litre petrol, while the lover-wheelbase five-door variant comes as 2.4 petrol or 129hp 1.9-litre DDiS turbodiesel; we drove the latter, which tops the range.

It’s not especially quick – 0-62mph is quoted at 13.2 seconds – but it gets the job done with a fair amount of efficiency, given the fixed four-wheel drive. Unfortunately, it’s also noisy, and as a turbodiesel we were surprised by its limited mid-range response, which leaves it feeling rather gutless much of the time.

This means you’ll find yourself fussing with the five-speed manual gearbox rather more than you might expect. This is a little on the heavy side, and really could do with a sixth cog to aid refinement. A four-speed auto is optional, but only on the already thirsty 2.4.

Ride and handling

The Grand Vitara features independent suspension, which in comparison to the rigid axles on the Suzuki Jimny certainly sounds reasonably sophisticated. But in retaining true off-road capability, Suzuki has sacrificed some of the on-road comfort you get with less rough and ready competitors.

As a result, the Grand Vitara never really settles when you’re just driving around – with a constant jiggling and buzzing that quickly becomes tiresome. The steering is light but numb, and there’s plenty of rocking and rolling through the corners. You don’t so much rein in your enthusiasm as park it altogether.

Suzuki

Take to the hills instead of the highway, and it begins to make more sense. A rotary control knob on the dashboard gives you four-wheel drive lock and four-wheel drive low range modes, and although the Grand Vitara lacks any kind of electronic hill descent or terrain adaptive trickery it feels nimble and secure.

That said, Suzuki’s claims about the off-road challenge our route represented were someone undermined by the full-sized school coach that preceded us up the mountain for quite a distance. Needs must at times in Croatia, it seems.

Interior

The only real change inside the 2013 Suzuki Grand Vitara is the introduction of the fitted satellite navigation system. This only comes on range-topping SZ5 variants, and although it looked smart, all the launch examples were in German, and we couldn’t actually use it due to the lack of Croatian mapping.

The rest of the cabin is neatly laid out, and feels tough enough to withstand plenty of abuse. There’s not a great deal in the way of soft touch anything – including the seats if we’re honest – but considering the reasonable pricing it’s well equipped.

Economy and safety

The Grand Vitara was crash tested by Euro NCAP back in 2007, at which point it received four stars. Testing standards are now much more stringent, so we wouldn’t be confident it could repeat that today. Still, stability control and six airbags are fitted as standard on every model.

Economy and emissions are sadly unaltered for the petrol engines, but Suzuki has been tinkering with the diesel. A newly ratified 174g/m CO2 means this drops a tax band, so you’ll now pay £195 a year instead of £215. Fuel consumption also officially improves slightly to 42.8mpg combined; expect mid-30s in real life.

The MSN Cars verdict

As you were, really. While we’ve no doubt plenty of existing fans will be pleased by the return of the tailgate mounted spare wheel, there’s little here that should or would entice on-road focused new buyers to the Grand Vitara fold.

That said, if you are looking for a tough, relatively compact vehicle that’s genuinely capable off-road and doesn’t cost a fortune, this Suzuki is certainly a viable solution. Everyone else should come back this time next year – by which time the thoroughly modern Suzuki S-Cross crossover should be on sale .

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