Vitara 2.4 SZ5 5-door Auto
looking than most of its
rivals and sporting a new 2.4-litre
Grand Vitara comes well-equipped
well-priced for mid-size SUV
buyers wanting space, practicality
and value for money...
SUZUKI'S LATEST GENERATION GRAND VITARA FLAGSHIP, powered by a
new 2.4-litre petrol engine is also available as an automatic as
tested here. Fitted with the auto 'box, the top-spec five-door SZ5 costs
£18,250 an extra £1,000 over the manual, but is still a pretty good
price for a mid-range family-friendly SUV, especially one tough enough to face
up to genuine mud-plugging usage should you venture off the beaten track.
Grand Vitara's four-wheel drive system provides permanent all-wheel drive on-
and off-road. A simple rotary switch on the dashboard lets the driver choose between
'everyday' 4H high range permanent 4WD, 4H Lock (for additional traction to power
through deep snow or mud) and 4L low range four-wheel drive (again with a locked
centre differential) for when the going gets really tough. Also reassuring wherever
you're driving is the standard-fit Electronic Stability Programme that includes
traction control. Naturally, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist are also standard.
The new 2.4-litre, petrol-fuelled engine produces 167bhp and 168lb ft
of torque at 3,800rpm. A new design 'silent' timing chain and balancer shaft help
to keep the new engine quiet. The new unit revs freely up to the rev limit and,
thanks to the extra power it produces over the 2.0 petrol engine, and the four-speed
automatic 'box, everyday driving is far less demanding and much smoother than
on any previous Grand Vitara.
Press the A/T PowerShift button alongside
the selector lever and you engage a sportier change mode to add a bit more 'zip'
to your progress. The benchmark 0-62mph takes 12 seconds although the step-off
with the auto transmission feels quicker; real-world 50-70mph acceleration is
fine. Maximum speed is 109mph.
CO2 emissions are 225g/km, so a year's
road tax at the current rate works out to £210. The automatic's combined fuel
economy is officially 29.1mpg (just 2.2mpg down on the five-speed manual) while
extra-urban and urban figures are 34.8 and 22.6mpg respectively. Our own test
average with four adults aboard plus a full complement of luggage
and taking in quite a lot of stop/start traffic and low gear driving around narrow
country lanes, worked out to 23.2mpg.
Changes to the Grand Vitara's exterior
are subtle and as facelifts go, qualify as nothing more extensive than a nip-and-tuck:
a revised, clean-cut front-end and new door mirrors with integrated turn indicators
inject a dash more visual sparkle. Interior upgrades include chrome and grey wood
inlays, better quality switchgear and controls and a new multi-information (external
temperature, fuel consumption, driving range and gear position for the automatic
transmission) digital display in the main instrument cluster.
a door the handles have a pleasant action and the door doors shut first
time with a solid 'thunk'. The cabin is spacious with loads of headroom, and
the fascia's smart, well-organised centre stack runs neatly down into the centre
console. The instruments are clear and easy to read and easy-to-operate buttons
and switchgear are the order of the day and make living with the Grand Vitara
a stress-free business. A nice touch is the speedometer needle: at 70mph it
is absolutely vertical so checking that you're sticking to the legal limit is
no problem. All four windows are power operated although only the driver's glass
has a one-shot down feature.
You never have to take
the key out of your
to lock or unlock
any of the doors
or start the engine...
An electrically-operated tilt 'n' slide glass sunroof is fitted and thanks to
the one-shot open/close and tilt offers hassle free, one-finger operation. Another
well considered touch is the concertina-style side panels on the sunroof that
foil draughts when the roof is in its tilt position. A sturdy sun blind ensures
you don't need sun-block on the hottest days.
The front seats are well-shaped, upholstered in leather and provide good side
support both at the base and the sides. They are also heated a single
setting; but it is both efficient and sufficient. The driver benefits from a
commanding driving position with seat height adjustment and height-adjustable
front seatbelts are also standard. Although the steering wheel only adjusts
for height, it's not a problem. And the leather rim is a comfortable thickness
and pleasant to hold. Visibility is excellent the Grand Vitara easy to
place and park because you're aware of all four corners.
Comfort is not restricted to the front row either, with those seated in the
back benefiting from adjustable rear seat backrests that have ten recline settings.
Recline them as far back as they go and you can really stretch out in the rear.
There's also plenty of leg- and headroom, and the low central tunnel also makes
it easier for a third rear passenger to sit comfortably in the middle position.
The 'stadium' rear seats are set about six inches higher than the fronts, so
rear passengers also enjoy interesting views out while travelling. A well-sited
centre rear armrest and outer armrests in the rear doors all help make long
trips as enjoyable as possible. As is becoming the norm, the three rear headrests
all slide down out of the driver's sight-line when not in use.
You'll also find a good measure of storage space dotted around the cabin, including
two handy lidded cubbies in the central tunnel, a fair-sized lockable glovebox,
deep front door pockets, sunglasses holder, cup-holders and, beneath the boot
floor, a hidden storage box for valuables. Also in the boot are four bag hooks,
usefully set at two different heights.
The range-topping SZ5 comes well equipped for the money: standard equipment
items include 7-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/60 SP Sport tyres, leather
upholstery, heated electric door mirrors, heated front seats, automatic climate
control air conditioning, electrically-operated tilt/slide glass sunroof, electrically-operated
windows and mirrors, power steering, central locking, fog lamps, tinted glass,
rear privacy glass, a 6-CD player with 7 speakers and an MP3-friendly radio
with steering wheel-mounted audio controls, leather-wrapped steering wheel,
cruise control (operated by buttons on the steering wheel), roof rails, split/fold
rear seats and High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights.
Also standard fit are driver and front passenger airbags, side airbags and front
and rear curtain airbags are standard along with Isofix child seat mountings
with top-tether anchor points on the rear seats.
Suzuki's Keyless Start system is also fitted to SZ5-spec models, so you never
have to take the key out of your pocket to lock or unlock any of the doors (including
the tailgate) or start/stop the engine. And a nice little labour saver it is
As a no-nonsense family hold-all the Grand Vitara makes the grade. We took four
adults (and four individual cases) on a weekend-away trip to Rye and although
filled to the brim with additional items such as walking boots, wet-weather
coats and even a large cat carrier box (without the cat!), the boot took every
last piece of baggage which left the neatly laid out cabin completely
clutter-free and more than able to make four adults feel totally at home.
For the record, the boot is 398 litres with the rear seats in use; fold them
down and tumble them forwards so they stack behind the front seats and this
increases to 758 litres.
Access to the wide load bay is through a side-hinged tailgate which adds to
the ease of use when packed tightly (as was the boot of our road test Grand
Vitara) as it can be opened gradually to prevent items falling out. A self-supporting
damper helps open the tailgate; then keeps it open while you load up. More good
news: the boot floor is above knee height so no back-breaking leaning down when
loading heavy items.
Another thoughtful feature is the folding segmented luggage blind that's much
easier to use than the more common roller blind types. Having a full-sized spare
wheel mounted externally on the back door also frees up more storage space plus,
should you ever have need of it, you don't have to empty the boot first.
On the road there's more than enough grip and, despite its genuine SUV DNA,
the Grand Vitara is well behaved through the bends. At first acquaintance the
steering is light-ish (appreciated when parking or driving around town) but
it's also accurate enough to let the driver hurry along if need be. Do so, and
there's less body roll than you'd expect. Ventilated front and rear disc brakes
ensure stopping is done without any drama.
This Suzuki handles competently and driving it either on short shopping
trips or long motorway journeys is never a hardship. Ride comfort is
pretty good despite some not-so-good country lanes, not one single complaint
from my three passengers (whose regular transport is a four-door BMW 1 Series).
While the firm-ish suspension limits body movement for more composed handling,
it does let you know when you're travelling over poor quality, pot-holed tarmac.
All in all the new Grand Vitara is a decent car and you certainly don't have
to live in the countryside to appreciate it. However, those who use it simply
for the school run and never get its wheels dirty off-road are definitely missing
something. Wherever you drive it, the Grand Vitara feels at home; you and your
passengers will also feel 'at home' and the auto 'box adds that extra
veneer of smoothness to the driving experience. MotorBar
Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.4 SZ5 5-door Auto | £18,250
Maximum speed: 109mph | 0-62mph: 12 seconds
Overall test MPG: 23.2mpg | Power:
167bhp | Torque: 168lb ft