The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Suzuki Grand Vitara is handy in town and capable in the country. It’s functional, practical and affordable.
Reasons to buy:
- Chunky styling
- Low running costs
- Four-star Euro NCAP rating
How good does it look?
The Suzuki Grand Vitara is chunky, with looks reminiscent of a Tonka truck, but is starting to look a little dated against the latest crop of compact 4×4s. If you need something small, the short wheelbase three-door is an excellent choice particularly for city-dwellers. It edges the longer five-door on looks too. Those seeking rugged off-road appeal will love the spare wheel mounted on the tailgate.
What's the interior like?
Functional and sensibly laid-out, the Vitara’s cabin will please those seeking practical purchases. But again, it lacks the flair of the class-leaders in terms of design and the quality of materials used. Some of the plastics – particularly the silver trim around the gear lever – look and feel very dated.
How practical is it?
The short wheelbase means the three-door Grand Vitara is handy around town, and its stubby design makes it easy to park. The spare wheel mounted on the tailgate is a hindrance here, but does mean there’s more boot space and ground clearance for off-road users. The tailgate opens horizontally which affords excellent access, but is an inconvenience in a tight car park. The boot isn’t particularly big, measuring 184 litres with the rear seats in place, although it grows to 516 with them folded. There’s a small storage space under the boot floor big enough for a few essentials.
What's it like to drive?
Despite being a tall 4×4, the Vitara’s on-road manners are surprisingly good. There’s less bodyroll than we expected, although it’s still evident, and plenty of grip with its full-time four-wheel drive system. The steering has a fair degree of play in it, but that’s common in this class of car. There’s a low-range gearbox too for additional traction off-road.
How powerful is it?
We tested the only diesel engine in the range; a 1.9-litre unit producing 129bhp and 221lb/ft of pulling power. That adds up to a 12.8 second 0-62mph time and a top speed of 106mph. It comes equipped with a five-speed manual gearbox which is far from the slickest we’ve tested, and there’s a degree of vibration through the gearstick and clutch pedal. Other engine options include a 106bhp 1.6-litre petrol and a 166bhp 2.4-litre petrol.
How much will it cost me?
Unsurprisingly the 1.9 diesel is the most cost-effective in the range. It’ll return an average of 40.3mpg and emit 189g/km of CO2. There are 4×4s that are cheaper to run, but few with real off-road credentials.
How reliable is it?
Proven technology and a good reliability record mean there are few causes for concern. There have been several manufacturer recalls to avoid a possible wiring issue and power steering fault, so check this work has been carried out if buying a nearly new Grand Vitara.
How safe is it?
The Grand Vitara achieved good results in Euro NCAP crash testing and was awarded four stars. Standard safety kit includes anti-lock brakes (ABS) and a full complement of airbags.
How much equipment do I get?
There are three grades available: SZ3, SZ4 and SZ5. All models get remote central door locking, six CD changer, steering wheel audio controls, tinted glass, trip computer and roof rails. The SZ4 gets front fog lamps, 17-inch alloy wheels and a stereo upgrade. Range-topping SZ5 spec cars get privacy glass, electric sunroof, stereo upgrade, map reading lights, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights and 18-inch wheels.
Reliability through rugged engineering will appeal to some, while its three-door configuration is unique in the market and will add to the appeal.