Ten Point Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 72%

The Suzuki Grand Vitara has been finding its way onto UK drives for nearly 20 years.

And anyone looking for a low-priced SUV with great reliability should stick it on their shortlist.

Web Editor Adrian Higgins drove one for a week to give it the Full Ten Point Test.

1. Looks 7/10

Buyers can choose between three- and five-door versions. The three-door model we drove looked every inch the stylish, compact soft-roader for urban buyers. Longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, the new model looks good on the road. The spare tyre is attached to the back but fairly discreetly so.

2. Looks inside 7/10

Much is clean, functional and stylish within the Vitara. The information display is clearly laid out with easy to read binnacles/tubes housing the dials while the central console is similarly simple to read and unfussy. We found the “chrome” finish on the steering wheel and gear knob let it down a little but overall the car’s interior lives up to the exterior.

3. Practicality 7/10

The 1.6-litre petrol model is the soft-roader of the family. It features a new, permanently engaged, four-wheel drive system designed to enable buyers to tackle muddy fields and tracks as well as improving on-road safety, assisting the driver in slippery, greasy and icy conditions. Other models in the range boast greater off-road capability, available at the turn of a switch. Inside the car there is decent storage space with bins for bottles in the car door pockets and cupholders between driver and front seat passenger. Five-door buyers get 398 litres boot space but go for the three-door and that drops to just 184 litres. Flip the back seats, an easy manoeuvre, and this increases to a 516 litre space (758-litres for the five-door). We used the car for an overdue trip to the recycling centre and found it consumed more than its appearance suggests. It’s worth noting the 3-door version we drove is a four-seater car with just two across the back.

4. Ride and Handling 7/10

The 3-door, 1.6-litre version we drove is likely to appeal to buyers looking for the most car-like experience. The handling fulfils this promise. The Vitara feels nippy and responsive in town. However, poor road surfaces are also communicated to the driver through seat and gearstick. We would expect the longer five-door to soak up more of the lumps and bumps.

5. Performance 6/10

There are three engines to choose from. The 1.6-Litre petrol model – exclusive to the three-door – we drove covers 0-62mph in 13.4 seconds and has a top speed of 99mph. We found it to be a bit of a plodder.  A 2-litre petrol engine is available for both the three- and five-door Vitara, with automatic transmission an option on the bigger car. Go for that and you’ll get a top speed of 106mph and a 0-62mph time of 13.6 seconds. The manual offers a top speed of 109mph and a quicker 0-62mph time of 12.5 seconds. Suzuki also offers a 1.9-litre diesel engine, available for both the three- and five-door models which improves fuel consumption. We found the five speed manual ‘box on the model we drove a bit vague, which, combined with a lot of travel in the clutch led to a few crunched changes during our week-long loan.

6. Running Costs 7/10

The 3-door petrol model we drove returns 32.5 mpg, that drops to 30.1 – 31mpg for the 2-litre version while the diesel returns 36.7mpg for the five-door and 38.2mpg for the three-door. Band F tax will set you back £210 for the model we drove and rises to the full £300 for the two-litre model. Buyers are covered by Suzuki Shield, a three year/60,000 mile warranty, as well as benefiting from Suzuki Assistance’s roadside recovery for three years.

7. Reliability 9/10

Suzuki as a whole and the Grand Vitara in particular score extremely well in the Reliability Index. The model has been on UK streets for nearly 20 years and we found it to be well put together.

8. Safety 7/10

All models feature anti-lock braking, electronic brake force distribution and all models bar the one we drove feature a permanently engaged 4×4 system. The car scored a four-star rating following EuroNCAP crash testing.

9. Equipment 7/10

Go for the three-door version we drove for roof rails, CD/radio, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, tinted glass and alloy wheels. The five-door model adds childproof rear-door locks, sunglasses holder and central console cupholders.

10. X-Factor 8/10

Quality. You don’t really expect this calibre of car for the price tag. Your use will determine whether off-road ability is on your shopping list, but either way the Grand Vitara is a smart purchase.

Key facts

Model tested: Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.6
On the road price: £11,799
Price range: £10,999-£14,299
Date tested: August 2007
Road tester: Adrian Higgins