Car reviews - Suzuki - Grand Vitara - V6 Sports 5-dr wagon
Suzuki returns to its SUV roots with a convincing new Grand Vitara to join the sassy
7 Apr 2006
By CHRIS HARRIS
POST-Swift, the pressure is on Suzuki - hitherto one of the great slackers of the last decade as far as memorable cars are concerned - to conjure up another winner with the follow-up to the under-performing Grand Vitara. Happily, with great styling and better space and dynamics thanks to a complete rethink, the signs are good that the latest model can make just as big a splash among the compact SUV set as the Swift has in the light-car class. Ironically, the late '80s Vitara original pretty much set the template for small urban 4WDs, so it's not as if Suzuki doesn't know how to do it.
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Grand VitaraReleased: April 1998
Ended: August 2005
Family Tree: Grand Vitara
One of the great automotive disappointments of recent years, the follow-up to the genre-creating 1988 Vitara a decade later had none of its spark or youthfulness, and wasn't a particularly roomy or refined vehicle to compensate. Three wagon bodystyles - a five-door and a pair of three-doors (soft and hardtop) - were offered, along with a trio of engines - a 1.6 or 2.0 four-cylinder unit for the shorter wheelbase models and the 2.0 or a 2.7-litre V6 found in the longer-wheelbase wagon. Transmission choices were limited to a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual. Short overhangs, good ground clearance, dual-range gearing and a tough ladder-frame chassis made for impressive off-road abilities, but at the cost of on-road dynamics and comfort. The 1998 Grand Vitara proved robust and reliable, if not especially memorable, while models after 2001 gained more features and a trim update.
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