Grand Vitara SZ5 5-dr 1.9 DDiS
just a compact SUV but also
a proper off-roader with permanent
four-wheel drive and high and low
gear ratios, the Suzuki Grand Vitara
can now be ordered with either four
wheels... or five!
THE VITARA IS AVAILABLE in three- and five-door bodystyles, with both lengths
now badged 'Grand Vitara'. As part of the latest specification
changes, Suzuki removed the rear-mounted spare wheel in order to reduce weight
(and lower CO2 emissions) as well as to improve visibility through the rear
However, some long-standing as well as new customers didn't approve after
all, the Grand Vitara is not just a compact SUV but also a proper off-roader.
And an off-roader without a spare wheel could see you 'up a creek without a
paddle'. Some 'soft' SUVs have run-flat tyres although these generally unsettle
the on-road ride quality. And, obviously, driving off-road can be pretty rough
on your rubber sharp stones or rocks are always waiting to split your
if that happens, the now quite ubiquitous 'tyre inflation kit' (a tube of sealant
and an electric inflation pump) found in most modern cars won't get you mobile
again and you just try getting the roadside rescue services to recover
your off-roader from a muddy farm track or field.
poor on-road driving
conditions as well as
off-road, the Grand Vitara
is a much more
SUV than the modern- generation crossovers
that dominate this
section of the market...
Suzuki GB have responded quickly to customer feedback on this issue and will
soon be adding a five-door with a spare wheel mounted back on the rear door
the SZT. This uses the most popular 127bhp 1.9-litre DDiS diesel engine.
Initially 500 will be available in the UK, priced at £22,315.
Depending on the choice of engine (127bhp 1.9 turbodiesel, 105bhp 1.6/166bhp
2.4 petrol) and bodystyle there are currently three trim levels: SZ3, SZ4 and
SZ5 (only available on the range-topping 1.9 DDiS diesel). The limited edition
diesel-powered SZT with the rear-mounted spare will be introduced early in 2012.
Prices start at £15,995 for the three-door versions and £19,270 for five-door
models; the top-spec diesel five-door costs £23,265.
All Vitaras feature permanent four-wheel drive but 2.4 petrol and 1.9 diesel
models add 4H high range (for a 47:53 front-to-rear torque split), 4H Lock (high
range with the centre diff locked for equal torque between the axles to give
optimum traction in deep snow and mud), and 4L low range for maximum
low-down power with equal torque split between the front and rear wheels (ideal
for serious off-road driving).
An additional 'N' position frees the centre differential allowing for less risk
of damage to the driveline if the vehicle needs to be towed. All of these settings
are selected in an instant via the easy to use rotary switch on the fascia.
A five-speed manual gearbox is standard fit.
most recent changes to the Grand Vitara models saw specification upgrades, some
minor visual changes, and the addition of an electronic stability programme;
the 2.4 petrol engine also gained balancer shafts (for smoother performance
and lower noise levels) and more power and torque.
is no powerhouse
but it gets the job done
well enough thanks to
221lb ft of torque
its responsive in
the low to mid ranges
without the need
poor on-road driving conditions, as well as off-road, the Grand Vitara is a
much more accomplished compact SUV than the modern-generation crossovers that
dominate this section of the market.
a genuine 4x4 (thanks to its all-wheel drive system with high and low ratio
gearing and strong ladder frame chassis) that can go more or less anywhere.
And it will not bust the bank to buy it. The 31.8mpg road test fuel consumption
(which fell 10mpg short of the official figure) and the high road tax, was not
The 1.9-litre DDiS turbodiesel is no powerhouse but it gets the job done well
enough thanks to 221lb ft of torque: it's responsive in the low to mid ranges
without the need for frequent downchanges, which is just as well because the
gearchange action is on the heavy side (and on my test vehicle a tad notchy
when the unit was cold). Top speed, for non-UK roads, is 106mph but on British
motorways that's fine because 70mph is more than easily maintained. Zero to
62mph takes 13.2 seconds.
The latest Grand Vitara retains its medium-sized 4x4 image and it looks
good. It drives well enough for most people, the steering is sharp and responsive,
the handling predictable and it's roomy: you get 398 to 1,386 litres of load
space. And you can tow a braked 2,000kg.
ride comfort is not as good as that of the modern car-derived crossovers and
neither is the out-and-out performance, fuel economy or running costs. So, as
with all 4x4s, owning one is always going to be a compromise. Do you buy a tough,
durable 4x4 capable of withstanding our poor road surfaces, coping better in
Winter weather plus dealing with off-road travel without stress? Or do you go
for a 'soft' SUV where style and comfort matters more?
a country-dweller I wouldn't hesitate to choose the tool most suitable for the
job the proper 4x4. Exactly what I did for the Christmas and New Year
holiday period. With places to go, people to see, work to do and with the threat
of wind, rain and snow, not to mention potholed roads, the Grand Vitara, even
without a spare wheel, fitted the requirements more or less perfectly.
With places to go,
people to see, work to do
and with the threat of
wind, rain and snow, not
to mention potholed
roads, the Grand Vitara,
even without a spare
wheel, fitted the
requirements more or
top of that, the diesel-powered SZ5's standard kit is pretty comprehensive,
including, as it does, leather upholstery, heated front seats, AirCon, on-board
computer, power front and rear windows, electrically-operated door mirrors and
Against? No spare wheel (but only until the SZT version arrives), expensive
to run in terms of road tax, the 1.9-litre diesel engine looses out on performance
against the more commonplace in this sector 2.0-2.2-litre engines, and no auto
However, there are lots of reasons to buy including its genuine go-anywhere
ability, high and low ratio 4WD system and rugged construction. You also get
sharp steering response and decent handling, plus a well-equipped cabin and
The absence of a spare wheel would probably stop me buying one (although that's
about to be rectified any time soon) but in all other respects the five-door
Grand Vitara 1.9 DDiS SZ5 was just 'grand'. David Miles
Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.9
5-dr | £23,265
Maximum speed: 106mph | 0-62mph: 13.2 seconds | Overall test MPG: 31.8mpg
Power: 127bhp | Torque: 221lb ft | CO2 179g/km