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Fresh Suzuki Grand Vitara in pipeline

Next-gen Suzuki Grand Vitara set to grow in size while retaining off-road prowess

22 Jan 2019

SUZUKI is believed to be planning an all-new replacement for its long-lived Grand Vitara medium SUV for launch inside the next two years, with larger dimensions and, most likely, seating for up to seven occupants.
While refusing to reveal any firm plans including possible timing for a Mk4 successor to the now-discontinued JT series launched almost 14 years ago, Suzuki Australia general manager for automobiles, Michael Pachota, told GoAuto this week that the Japanese company typically does not abandon segments or nameplates, even if there is a lengthy hiatus between generations.  
“I can’t confirm it, but based on what I’ve heard I don’t think Grand Vitara is dead,” Mr Pachota told us at the launch of the fourth-generation Suzuki Jimny in Melbourne, details for which remain under embargo. 
“I think there is an opportunity for that nameplate to come back. It’s just a matter of the right research and development on SMC’s (Suzuki Motor Corporation’s) part. 
“They haven’t confirmed at all whether or not it’s coming, they’re keeping it very close to their chest. But we had the same experience with Jimny … and that car was five years in development before they released the vehicle to the public, so it takes some time to get the product right.”
Though Mr Pachota is confident there is a market in Australia for a larger Suzuki SUV offering proper off-road capabilities as well as seven-seater accommodation to slip underneath the existing monocoque JY Vitara released in 2015, SMC must ascertain whether the rest of the world wants one as well. 
The last time the brand offered such a vehicle was with the 1998 Grand Vitara-based XL-7, complete with ladder-frame construction and a dual-range gearbox. It was sold locally from 2001 to 2005.
“Based on Suzuki’s history with the Grand Vitara model, I would say it would be living up to its heritage,” he said. “In saying that, and when we’re talking about the word ‘Grand’, it would say it would be a bigger and more capable vehicle.
“Suzuki customers definitely want an XL-7. Still to this day, people come in with their old XL-7s asking if we have a new one … but I guess it’s all about Suzuki from a global perspective identifying that, and understanding what needs to be done to build a new model.
“It all depends on what technologies are available too, in the marketplace based on competitors, and understanding what they need to develop to meet the market’s demand – so if that’s what the market is developing, Suzuki will look down that track, but I can’t confirm yea or nay because they haven’t even confirmed to us they’re bringing a new Grand Vitara out.”
While the original (JU) Vitara of 1988 and its JA Grand Vitara successor of a decade later employed body-on-frame technology and rigid axles, the 2005 Grand Vitara combined a monocoque with built-in ladder-frame construction for extra 4x4 toughness. 
Whether the all-new fourth-generation continues to do the same or switches to a lighter transverse front-drive-based architecture like the Vitara (but not the Jimny) remains to be seen. 
However, it is likely that shedding weight and adopting smaller four-cylinder and perhaps even three-cylinder turbo-petrol and, eventually, petrol-electric hybrid powertrains will be central to the evolution of the series moving forward. 
Mr Pachota also said he expects the last examples of the current Grand Vitara, which are all powered by a normally aspirated 122kW/225Nm 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, to disappear from Suzuki showrooms within the next three months.
“Production of the last model ended in August last year,” he revealed. “We bought enough cars into the country to last up until April, but I’d say there are less than 100 Grand Vitaras in dealers in Australia right now.”


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