AT LAST we have a diesel version of the tough and talented Grand Vitara.
Suzuki, which has a proud history of producing clever off-roaders, can now add “economical’’ to the compact four-wheel-drive wagon’s list of attributes.
Anglers, surfers, camping enthusiasts and rural buyers love the chunky Grand Vitara, which is one of the few SUVs capable of getting down and dirty.
The arrival of the new model, equipped with a gutsy 1.9-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, will further broaden the vehicle’s appeal.
The Renault-sourced Direct Diesel injection System (DDiS) power plant has the most torque of any four-wheel-drive in the Suzuki range, developing 300Nm at just 2000rpm along with 95kW at 3750rpm.
The towing-friendly diesel is also the most economical of the Grand Vitaras, with a fuel consumption of 7.6 litres per 100km. This is significantly better on the hip-pocket than the 11.7 litres of petrol per 100km averaged by the 2.7-litre V6 variant.
A 5-speed manual presently is the only transmission offered with the newcomer, which is competitively priced at $34,990.
Like its stablemates, the diesel roars across the softest sand, using its genuine low range, good clearance and excellent power-to-weight ratio to great advantage.
The Grand Vitaras all feature constant 4WD. This recently-developed system remains engaged at all times and uses a torque-sensing centre differential to give sure-footed traction for all surfaces.
Five-door models have a 4 mode 4x4 system, operated from the main switch on the instrument panel. The 4 High mode can be used for normal driving applications and provides superior traction while offering solid performance and steady cornering.
The 4H Lock mode locks the centre differential to eliminate any speed difference between the front and rear axles, giving added grip to power through testing conditions.
In the most extreme situations, there’s a 4L Lock or 4 Low Lock that engages the lower ratio in the transfer case and locks the centre differential for even more low-end traction.
Independent front and rear suspension helps tackle the rough stuff and also delivers a smooth ride for normal city driving.
Grand Vitara diesel’s impressive list of standard equipment is unrivalled in its class, with cruise control, six airbags, traction and stability control, 17 inch alloy wheels, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, climate control air-conditioning, power windows and mirrors, MP3 compatible CD player, leather wrapped steering wheel
Despite its compact exterior dimensions, the interior space is surprising and the new Vitara is longer and wider than the outgoing model.
There is plenty of storage space, with large door pockets, centre console, under seat bins and rear seat pockets as well as an array of cup and bottle holders.
The 5-door versions comfortably accommodate five adults and seats are easily adjustable and can be folded flat if you have more cargo than passengers.
The Suzuki Grand Vitara is a competent all-rounder that is sure to attract even more fans now there’s a more frugal diesel version available.