2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara diesel first steer
- by Alborz Fallah
The Suzuki brand might be synonymous with the cute Swift, but long before 17 year old girls had began sticking frangipani stickers on the back of their Suzuki, the Japanese company was building compact 4x4s.
Starting back in 1974, the Suzuki LJ10 was the first of many Suzuki 4x4s that have made it here over the years. It was followed in the late 80s with the three-door 1.6-litre Suzuki Vitara and eventually joined by the Grand Vitara in 1998. Ten years on and Suzuki has finally brought diesel to the party.
My last experience with a diesel 4x4 ended in unfavourable terms on the Western Freeway in Brisbane's west, at 2am, so I was relieved when Suzuki brought more than 15 of the new Grand Vitara diesels for the official launch.
After a brief overview of the car, we headed to Mt Cotton's 4WD testing facility to try out the Grand Vitara off-road. However before we got there, we had to drive a good 30km to see how the car goes on-road.
The diesel is powered by a 1.9-litre Direct Diesel injection System (DDiS) intercooled and turbocharged engine, which only puts out 95kW but makes a respectable 300Nm of torque from just 2000rpm.
For a car that weighs a tad over 1600kg, 95kW isn’t quite what one would hope for, but with the 300Nm of torque to back it up, the Grand Vitara is comfortable and easy to drive and any disappointment felt by the kW rating is quickly overcome by the 7.6L/100km fuel rating - no, that's not a typo.
Despite the excellent fuel economy, 0-100km/h time is achieved in a respectable (for a car its size) 13.7 seconds and although there are faster diesel 4×4s out there, none of them start at $34,990.
My only concern with the car’s on-road ability was the five-speed manual gearbox - the only transmission available for the diesel. Although comfortable to use with an easy clutch, on a few occasions one of the test cars would struggle to get into gear.
We finally got to Mount Cotton's 4WD testing facility and began our adventure around the track. The 4WD instructor was quick to point out that this was not a beginners track, insisting that fingers and thumbs could be dislocated if we didn't follow his instructions.
Taking the Hummer H3 off-road was fun, but that required some actual work and placement. The Grand Vitara Diesel, on the other hand, is the sort of car that makes you look like a pro, because when you climb an impossible hill for the third time, you start to think "yeah, that was all me" - but that's far from the truth.
Many car manufacturers are happy to boast about their cars ‘true’ 4x4 ability, but Suzuki only has to show it. Using a centre limited slip differential, the Grand Vitara uses a four-wheel drive system that remains engaged at all times.
All you need to do is select lower ratios and you're set. The car makes use of electronic stability control (standard on diesel) which controls everything from power to braking force and steering stability. The ESC module consists of:
- ABS – Anti-lock Braking System
- EBD – Electronic Brake-force Distribution
- TCS – Traction Control System
- SCS - Stability Control System
I must have gone around the 4WD track more times than anyone else, simply because it was a great way to sit around in aircon while the car drove itself up the hill. And I say 'drove-it-self' because all I had to do was steer.
Back to basics though, in addition to all the safety gadgets mentioned, for $34,990, you also get 17 inch alloy wheels shod with 225/65R17 tyres; leather steering wheel; CD with MP3 audio with steering wheel mounted controls; Cruise control mounted on the steering wheel and six airbags including side and curtain.
The interior is unchanged from the petrol variant and like the rest of the Suzuki range, it is comfortable, practical and easy to live with.
The Suzuki Grand Vitara Diesel will spend a week in CarAdvice garage starting from tomorrow so expect a comprehensive road test soon.