Is this Vitara as grand as it claims to be?
- 2009 Suzuki Grand Vitara V6 Prestige; 3.2-litre, six-cylinder, petrol; five-speed automatic; wagon - $40,490*
The Suzuki Grand Vitara started life in 1999 as a larger version of its Vitara sibling, promising more power and the ability to tackle off-road terrain at the drop of a hat.
The second generation, which launched in 2005, received a facelift in 2008.
The exterior boasts a rugged front end and compact styling, making it appealing to the weekend adventurers who head off-road in the search of fun.
A rear mounted spare tyre helps increase luggage capacity, while functional vents attached to the side panels act as vents for hot air escaping the engine bay.
Spacious wheel arches and a generous 200mm ground clearance act as aids for off-roading.
Inside the cabin, the Grand Vitara certainly lives up to its name with comfortable leather seats and lashings of dark wood grain.
A proximity-sensing key makes getting in and getting started a breeze. You don’t need to do anything except have the key in your pocket or a bag. Simply grab the door handle and the door will automatically unlock. Rotate the starting switch on the steering column with the key located anywhere inside the car and the engine will fire up. Shutting down and locking up is just as easy.
Interior room for the driver and front seat passenger is generous with ample head and leg room. Rear seat leg and head room on the other hand is somewhat disappointing. While it’s suitable for children, adults will find it a bit of a struggle to fit comfortably.
Taller adults will be left with limited head room due to the low roof line.
Cargo capacity is good, catering for up to 398 litres with the rear seats up and 1386 litres with the rear seats down. Loading and unloading cargo is made easy due to a low entry point and flat floor.
Featuring seven speakers with subwoofer, the sound system offers plenty of punch and quality of sound which could be found in vehicles double the price.
Under the bonnet of our test vehicle was Suzuki’s 3.2-litre, 165kW V6. The official fuel consumption figure of 10.5L/100km was easily achieved during test. The free-revving V6 works in unison with the slick shifting five-speed automatic to provide a driving experience unlike that of many other SUVs.
The gearbox is always in the right gear and doesn’t hunt like some gearboxes in competing vehicles such as the Mitsubishi Outlander.
Steering feedback is spot on. Although it’s a little bit heavy, it provides plenty of feedback and is light during low-speed parking manoeuvres. The brakes are a little touchy, but again provide unvarying feedback.
While you wouldn’t pick it, the Grand Vitara’s V6 is very sonorous higher in the rev range and sounds fantastic, especially for a vehicle marketed toward the type of crowd who wouldn’t regularly care about engine note.
The ride quality over all tyres of roads is generally soft, providing a smooth ride.
Safety levels are great with Electronic Stability Control (ESP), ABS brakes with EBD and BA, front, side and curtain airbags and engine immobiliser.
Unlike most other vehicles in its class, the Grand Vitara features some impressive off-road kit. A low-range gearbox and centre differential lock make off-roading a realistic task.
The high-revving V6 isn’t the perfect companion for off-road driving due to its maximum torque production range. Attempting to traverse steep hills often amounts in masses of wheel spin, the diesel powered Grand Vitara would be a much better option for four-wheel-driving zealots.
Four wheel drive modes are switchable via a knob on the dashboard and can only be operated when the vehicle is stationary.
Starting at $25,990 for the three-door petrol variant, the five-door V6 Grand Vitara Prestige retails for $40,490.
Although the design is getting on now, it’s hard to beat the Grand Vitara for value for money. The level of features, in addition to excellent four wheel drive equipment make it a high priority test drive for families after a compact SUV.
While the V6 won’t be to everyone’s tastes, Suzuki now offers a turbo diesel mode, retailing for $35,990.
Whichever way you look at it, this superb vehicle can’t be passed for value and function. Make sure it’s on the shortlist if you’re in the market; you’re bound to be impressed. The Grand Vitara well and truly lives up to its name.
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