SUZUKI’S Grand Vitara has always been an exception to the general compact SUV rule in that it offers off-road ability that’s arguably the best in class, without compromising its role as a user-friendly urban getabout with a ‘command’ driving position – which is what many people buy small crossover wagons for.
In its first facelift since emerging here in third-generation guise in October 2005, the GV scores a subtle cosmetic upgrade, mainly to accommodate a new 2.4-litre four-cylinder that replaces both 1.6 and 2.0-litre units, and a new 3.2-litre V6 that replaces the 2.7-litre V6.
It’s not perfect inside, where refinement has also taken a forward step, but throw in stability/traction control plus front and rear side airbags as standard across the revised range, and the Grand Vitara makes an even more persuasive argument as Australia’s most versatile small SUV.
Model release date: September 2008
The third-generation Grand Vitara arrived on an all-new monocoque chassis with, for the first time, all-independent suspension.
The three-door had a 1.6-litre engine developing 78kW at 6000rpm and 139Nm of torque at 4100rpm, and was available as a five-speed manual, with a single-range transmission only.
The five-door model was sold as a 2.0-litre four-cylinder, with 103kW at 6000rpm and 183Nm at 4000rpm (in either four-speed auto or five-speed manual) or a 2.7-litre V6, with 135kW at 6000rpm and 250Nm at 4500rpm (with a five-speed manual or optional auto).
Both the 2.0-litre and 2.7-litre had a full-time, dual-range four-wheel drive system.
At launch in 2005, the Grand Vitara three-door 1.6 was priced at $23,990 and the GV five-door 2.7 V6 cost $30,990.