1 Apr 1998
By CHRIS HARRIS
Suzuki’s Grand Vitara was the replacement for the original Vitara of 1988 – the car that really kicked off the "lifestyle" small 4WD market, despite what Toyota says about its car-based RAV4.
Looking like a scaled-down Nissan Patrol, the Grand Vitara is a softer, more lavish and comfortable version of its predecessor but still possessed the separate chassis and part-time low and hi-range 4WD drivetrain for effective off-road use.
New too was Suzuki’s ‘Drive Select’ 4x4 system which allowed changes between two and four-wheel-drive (high range) at speeds of up to 100 km/h.
Suzuki's designers maintained a toned-down SUV chunkiness inside and out, but improved on-road dynamics for a better steering, handling and riding result.
And safety items like ABS brakes and dual airbags were also incorporated, along with stronger bodies (in four and – from May ’99 – two-door wagon guises) and more rigid sub-structures.
Power came courtesy of a 94kW/174Nm 2.0-litre DOHC 16V four-cylinder engine or a 106kW/208Nm 2.5-litre DOHC 24V V6. Both come with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox.
A 69kW/138Nm 1.6-litre DOHC 16V four-cylinder engine powered the short-lived Grand Vitara Cabriolet from early ’00 to September ’02. Meanwhile from August ’01 the V6 gained 10kW and 5Nm.