Grand Vitara 2.4 SZ5 5-dr
Sell me more, sell me
more. Summer Nights are a long
time ago; now we need to drive in
the snow... Dont
worry if you dont
know the tune (from Grease); all you
really need to know is that Suzukis
Grant Vitara is all you really need
to beat the Arctic weather...
THE ARCTIC WEATHER already experienced this month and, indeed, the last two
winters of chaotic snow-covered roads, has given the 4x4 market a real boost
in sales. Multi-purpose (4x4) new vehicles sales are one of only two sectors
showing growth in 2010 MPVs (people carriers) being the
Manufacturers are also saying enquiries and sales of 4x4s are strong and car
auction companies are reporting high demand for used 4x4s. Land Rover UK sales
are up 30 per cent, Audi has six-month waiting lists for Q5 and Q7 models and
BMW cannot get enough X models not surprisingly, 4x4 shortages
I've just being getting to grips literally with
the latest Suzuki Grand Vitara range, in particular their flagship five-door
SZ5 model powered by a petrol 2.4-litre engine with manual transmission and
priced at £20,920 (or, should you prefer, with an auto gearbox for £21,995).
Note that all Grand Vitara versions offer proper 4x4 traction as standard.
Grand Vitara three-door prices start at £15,725 for the 1.6-litre petrol SZ3
and the range tops out at £23,250 for the 1.9-litre DDiS diesel manual five-door
in SZ5 specification. These are new prices with the 20 per cent level of VAT
which starts in January 2011 (Happy New Year!). There are three levels of trim
and equipment SZ3, SZ4 and SZ5 depending on which
one of the three engine options is chosen. Three- and five-door models are now
both labelled Grand Vitara.
A genuine go-anywhere
4x4, the Vitara
can cope with most types
of driving requirements
from the on-road
commute through ice,
snow and mud and more
They are all genuine go-anywhere 4x4s with a monocoque body incorporating a
ladder-frame chassis so they are tough, rugged and built to last. Vitaras can
cope with most types of driving requirements from the on-road commute through
ice, snow and mud and more adventurous off-road mud-plugging. A genuine 4x4
for all seasons.
With a body length of 3,865mm for the three-door and 4,340mm for five-door versions,
the Grand Vitara takes up no more road space than a family hatchback so the
Chelsea Tractor image does not apply. Five-door versions have seating for four/five
and with all the seats in use there's 398 litres of boot space. Fold down the
rear seats and this increases to a useful 1,386 litres. Towing weights (braked)
range from 1,600kg up to 2,000kg with the 2.4-litre petrol five-door models
able to tow 1,850kg.
In July 2010 it received minor design changes to the rear and a more elegant
and city-friendly appearance with the removal of the rear-mounted spare wheel.
This has resulted in a lighter to operate rear door and a 200mm reduction in
overall vehicle length. A puncture repair system and tyre inflation device is
now used across the Grand Vitara model range not a great feature
for me because I like having a spare wheel even if it is a 'skinny'.
The Grand Vitara also gained other refinements to its exterior styling including
a new 'Suzuki face' front grille and a front bumper which gives a more sculpted
and muscular appearance. Smart new door mirrors with integrated turn indicators
all models now have ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) as standard. New wheel
designs are utilised with five-spoke 16-inch alloys for the SZ3, 17-inch alloys
on the SZ4 model and 18-inch rims for the five-door SZ5.
ambience is now more refined and sophisticated, with a cleaner but bland, easier
to monitor dashboard layout and new control buttons.
drive system is
and it provides sure-
footed progress at all
times and the driver does
not have to worry about
switching it in or out
the surface changes...
Other improvements include a new multi-information display in the main instrument
cluster that shows vehicle status data such as fuel consumption, mileage, driving
range and the selected gear for automatic transmission models. Steering wheel-mounted
switches are illuminated for greater ease of use, and there is a new control
panel for the climate control unit.
SZ5 five-door models feature wood trim inlays to the centre console and integrated
door armrests which help 'lift' the cabin quality, along with a centre speaker
on the dashboard this allows sound to be echoed off the roof to
create a surround-sound effect.
All models have electrically-operated windows (front on SZ3 and front and rear
on SZ4/5), electrically-operated and heated door mirrors, air conditioning,
stereo radio/CD system, front, side and curtain airbags, remote central locking
and leather upholstery with heated front seats for the SZ5 versions.
But it is the Grand Vitara's all-wheel drive system that impresses the most.
Just how many customers who have bought two-wheel drive SUVs or front-wheel
drive new-generation 'crossovers' following the early winter snow and ice now
wish they'd chosen 4x4 versions? Lots, I suspect.
The Vitara's four-wheel drive system is permanently engaged and it provides
sure-footed progress at all times, ensuring secure performance in low-grip conditions.
And the driver doesn't have to worry about switching it in or out every time
the surface changes.
Using a torque-sensing limited slip centre differential absorbs differences
between front and rear wheel speeds and gives the benefit of all-wheel traction.
It also helps reduce fuel consumption and provides the characteristic 'braking
effect' and understeer of four-wheel drive systems with rigid centre transfers.
Unlike systems that operate predominantly in two-wheel drive and automatically
engage four-wheel drive via a centre clutch when differences in front and rear
wheel speeds are detected, there is no delay in the Grand Vitara's system: four-wheel
drive is doing its work all the time, just like in the big heavyweight 4x4s.
three drive modes are 4H (high range), 4H Lock, 4L (low range). 4H is the 4x4
mode and its free centre differential is ideal for most conditions, offering
the smooth, quiet performance and neutral cornering of conventional 4x2s. Front
and rear torque is split 47:53, improving on-road response while delivering
excellent off-road traction.
164bhp and 167lb ft of
torque at 3,800rpm
and will return
31.3mpg exactly what
my test car did...
Next is 4H Lock. In this high-range 4x4 mode a clutch locks the centre differential
to eliminate any speed difference between the front and rear wheels, providing
traction to power through deep snow or mud. Finally, 4L provides four-wheel
drive (again with a locked centre differential) and enables Grand Vitara to
cope with more challenging conditions. 4L's transfer gear ratio is about twice
that of the 4H Lock, so offers excellent low-end traction. There's also a Neutral
mode which allows the vehicle to be towed with the centre differential
free, there is less risk of driveline wear and tear.
However, the 2.4-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine is not quite so impressive.
It might be the latest Suzuki unit with built-in refinements such as balancer
shafts and a durable timing chain but it lacks the power and torque. Okay, it's
a compliant engine but there are better ones now on the market.
For the record, the 2.4 produces 164bhp, 167lb ft of torque at 3,800rpm and
will return 31.3mpg exactly what my test car did. But with a high
208g/km of CO2 emissions, road tax is a massive £550 in the First Year reducing
to £245 from the Second Year onwards and company car drivers will be hit with
30 per cent Benefit-in-Kind tax.
Top speed is 115mph and zero to 62mph takes 11.7 seconds. In reality this engine
is not the best choice; the 1.9-litre turbodiesel will be more economical but
it's slower and costs more to buy so get out your calculator. In the longer
term, anyone covering 10,000 miles a year will be better off buying the diesel
version. As far as the 2.4 model goes, you also get a firm and unsettled ride,
a lack-lustre and relatively large petrol engine, heavy gearchange, no spare
wheel and high running costs.
The up-side is that the Grand Vitara is rugged, tough and durable, affordable
to buy, roomy, stylish and well equipped with good handling. It's also a genuine
4x4 with go-anywhere traction and when the roads are white, that counts for
a great deal! David Miles
Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.4 SZ5 5-dr | £20,920
Maximum speed: 115mph | 0-62mph: 11.7 seconds | Overall Test MPG:
Power: 164bhp | Torque: 167lb ft | CO2 208g/km