Car reviews - Suzuki - Grand Vitara - range
Suzuki's chunky new Grand Vitara delivers a stirring drive and keen pricing
31 Aug 2005
IT started with a trickle and now, excuse the pun, it’s a swiftly flowing stream. Suzuki’s Swift is leading a renaissance at the small Japanese car-maker. The company is selling more than 600 a month and the diminutive Mini Cooper-esque small hatch has met with rave reviews. Now it’s the Grand Vitara’s turn. Using a similar interior design theme to the Swift – easily legible instruments, nice chrome highlights and quality switchgear – the Grand Vitara’s interior is wrapped in a new, up-to-the-minute chunky body that’s bound to eat into Nissan X-Trail, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester sales. That just leaves the V6 engines of the Mazda Tribute, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage and some head-to-head price points. Like its predecessor, the range-topping GV boasts a peaky V6 engine, albeit with more power, along with a 2.0-litre five-door variant. Both offer a proper low-range for off-road work. Suzuki expects to find about 460 buyers a month. However, the Grand Vitara’s drive experience is a revelation and like the Swift, the sales expectations could be a tad conservative.
Model release date: 1 September 2005 to 1 July 2008
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Suzuki Grand VitaraReleased: April 1998
Ended: August 2005
Family Tree: Grand Vitara
The first Vitara burst on to the scene in mid-1988 and offered non-4WD buyers the first true civilised light-4WD alternative. It boasted spunky styling, a car-like cabin, peppy performance and appealing high-seating position. All of this struck a chord with buyers. The 55kW 1.6-litre single-cam four-cylinder engine was an honest performer and the separate chassis and part-time rear-to-4WD system with an integrated two-speed transfer box helped with off-road duties. The coil spring front and rear suspension proved reasonably car-like in the way it drove too. Developed with the cooperation of General Motors, the Vitara initially arrived in two body styles – a three-door five-seat hardtop and a two-door four-seat soft-top – in base JX and well-equipped JLX guises. A 2.0-litre V6 joined the fray in mid-1995 along with a new model that was bigger and offered dual airbags. The bigger Grand Vitara models rolled in from 1998, and Suzuki phased out the 1.6 wagons late that year.
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