In the world of crossovers, SUVs and good-old fashioned 4x4s, the Suzuki Grand Vitara is often ignored.
In the world of crossovers, SUVs and good-old fashioned 4x4s, the Suzuki Grand Vitara is often ignored. It has been around forever, the original soft-top Vitara (the Grand moniker coming later) a big hit internationally among ‘lifestyle’ buyers, Suzuki’s once fashionable machine coming over all sensible in its later incarnations - not least as Suzuki ditched the soft-top. More spacious, more practical and more useful for families then, but still offering good value and excellent reliability, if not quite the youthful image it might once have had.
Two body styles in the earliest cars, with either a three- or five-door model were offered to Suzuki buyers, the three-door coming on a significantly shortened wheelbase and bringing with it obvious compromises in practicality. Unsurprisingly the five-door then makes up the majority of used choices, but there are a number of three-door models out there if you prefer its sportier looks and aren’t so worried about carrying rear seat passengers or much luggage.
If you are then that five-door car makes a lot of sense, the Grand Vitara being a comfortable five-seater with a well-sized boot. It drives decently enough in either three- or five-door guises, if perhaps lacking the on-road sophistication of newer, soft-roaders and crossover rivals. The trade-off for that is impressive off-road ability, the Grand Vitara acquitting itself with aplomb when it gets down and dirty. The engine line-up is made up of a 130hp 1.9-litre turbodiesel and a choice of 1.6- and 2.0-litre petrol units. A 2.4-litre petrol engine was offered outside Ireland, so if you find one it has been imported.
Specification levels are adequate rather than generous, though it’s unusual to find cars without alloy wheels and air conditioning. The diesel engine offers the best all-round performance, allied to decent economy, though if you’re after a three-door model you’ll be limited to the 1.6-litre petrol engine. It’s smooth enough, though isn’t exactly over-endowed with power with just 105hp on offer.
Interiors are functional rather than fashionable, though it all feels solid even if the plastics aren’t the most tactile. The side-opening boot door is unusual, and awkward if you’re parked in a tight space, though the boot itself offers useful under-floor space for hiding valuables.
A five-door 1.9 turbodiesel Grand Vitara is by far the best all-round choice, mixing acceptable fuel consumption - 8.8 litres/100km - with respectable performance. It’s not going to excite, but if you want no-nonsense family transport that’s more than a little bit useful in the rough stuff then the Suzuki Grand Vitara is worth serious consideration.
Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.9 five-door
Engines: 1,870cc four-cylinder turbodiesel
Maximum speed: 171km/h
0-100km/h: 12.8 seconds
Fuel consumption: 7.6 litres/100km
Euro NCAP: * * * *
• Useful off-road
• 1.6-litre petrol slow
• Three-door version is small
It might not be the fashionista it once was but the more sensible Suzuki Grand Vitara makes a useful used buy for those wanting a rugged, capable and reliable family car. Rather unremarkable to drive, the Grand Vitara ticks a lot of boxes, and is available for affordable prices. The five-door version is infinitely more useful, but the three-door model isn’t without appeal if you’re unconcerned about practicality.