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Tougher than the rest

Off-road favourite Suzuki aims to offer a new, compact and affordable 4x4 in the Grand Vitara - Adrian Ion tested out the motor

June 2010 - From the Print Edition

Ask any off-road enthusiast which car brand is more suitable for having fun on extreme terrain and, among their top three choices, they are bound to say a Suzuki.
The Japanese manufacturer has positioned its 4x4 models as capable and reliable little cars with a high potential for extreme off-road tuning.
Also, if a driver is looking for an off-roader that will not burst the credit line, then a Suzuki should be high up on the list.
I took the largest Suzuki 4x4 family member available on the market - the Grand Vitara - to check out how suitable this car is for rough ground and driving the kids to school.
Courtesy of Union Motors, the newest Suzuki dealer in Bucharest, I drove the five-door model, fitted with manual transmission and a 1.9 diesel engine.
First of all, there is nothing grand about the size of the Vitara, as this SUV competes with the small members of its class, such as the Toyota RAV 4 or the Mitsubishi Outlander. Its size is still decent enough to transport five people with a fair amount of luggage. Meanwhile the boxy shape of the car maximises the use of interior space. The other good news about the Grand Vitara is that this vehicle is cheaper than many rivals and, combined with genuine off-road capabilities, this makes an appealing package.
At first contact with the vehicle, the ride seemed excessively firm, especially at lower speeds. Also there is too much engine noise in the cabin, which seemed loud when under a hard acceleration, but quiet when idle or at cruising speed.
All versions steer and handle well and the cabin feels solid and spacious. The interior of the test drive car was a luxury trim with leather seats, decent stereo system and cruise control, xenon head lamps and other facilities which are considered standard in today′s motors. The materials seem solid, with some tight plastics that will most probably pass the test of time and even harsh usage.
The Suzuki Grand Vitara will score high points for off-road performance and a competitive package at a low price, decent engine options and reliability track record. However, there are areas to improve, such as in the ride quality and intruding engine noise.
Test drive car was provided by Union Motors at www.suzuki-umr.ro.

Vital statistics
Suzuki Grand Vitara

Performance for the diesel 1.9 tested car: 0 to 100 km/h in 13.2 seconds
Maximum speed: 170 km/h
Fuel consumption in combined cycle: 7l/100 km.
Drive system: 4WD - a switch built into the centre console change modes between 4H for most driving conditions, 4H Lock for serious off-roading, 4L Lock for extreme surface conditions.
Engine choice for the range: petrol- 2.0L and 140 bhp; 2.4L VVT and 169 bhp; 3.2L V6 VVT and 233 bhp and a diesel 1.9L DdiS and 129 bhp

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