Motoring / Motoring News

Glen Hill
3 minute read
14 Aug 2013
10:40 am

A grand time with Vitara

Glen Hill

The Suzuki Grand Vitara occupies a fairly unique niche in the market in that it is a relatively compact 4x4 which offers low-range.

EXTRA: The Vitara tow bar is extra. Picture: Michel Bega.

This gives it an off road capability which should greatly exceed that of most of its competitors when compared by size or price. The Jeep Cherokee is perhaps the most serious competitor in that it, too, has low range but its pricing starts at almost R100 000 above that of the Dune spec Grand Vitara that we will be putting through its paces over the next couple of months.

Obviously this extra off-road capability is one aspect we will be exploring, but there is a lot more to the Grand Vitara than that.

To give you an idea of what our Grand Vitara offers for its Grand Vitara Dune R298 900 here is a quick rundown of its specification level. These items are all standard and the only extra fitted to our Grand Vitara Dune is its towbar at R3 109.26.

Standard on the Dune are the new 17-inch alloy wheels with a disc-type half wheel cover for the tailgate-mounted full size alloy spare wheel. This makes the spare easy to access and importantly it matches – meaning you dont have to change wheels twice in the event of a flat.

The rear door opens horizontally like a normal door. The only drawback is that the towbar had to be extended to protrude beyond the wheel, necessitating a longer cable from the trailer for the lighting harness – making a longer lever for adverse nose drop when towing.

We will examine whether this proves to be an issue when we tow in the future.

The Dune’s comprehensive standard equipment array features a FM Stereo/AM CD receiver with MP3 playback function and speed-sensing volume adjustment, electric windows front and rear, remote central locking, automatic air-conditioning and cloth seat upholstery.

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On the safety front the Dune comes equipped with all-disc ABS brakes, front, side and curtain airbags, front and rear head restraints and five inertia reel seatbelts with the front belts featuring pre-tensioners and load limiters. Isofix rear child seat anchors are standard. We will test how well the brakes work but, hopefully, nothing more.

The Grand Vitara 2.4 models feature a four-cylinder, 2 393 cc powerplant with twin overhead camshafts and VVT variable valve timing that produce 122 kW of power at 6 000 rpm. The torque peak of 225 Nm is achieved at 4 000 rpm.

Our Dune has a five-speed manual transmission, although a four-speed automatic transmission is available. Suzuki claim the following performance figures which should see the Dune accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 11,7 sec, and achieve a 180 km/h top speed.

The combined-cycle fuel consumption figure should be 8,9 litres/100 km. So far we are not getting quite that, even on the open road, but it must be borne in mind that the vehicle is brand new and the engine should still loosen up.

The all-wheel drive system that incorporates a low-range transfer case has convenient electronic switching between 4×4 modes. The system employs a torque-sensing centre differential that can vary power between the front and rear axles depending on road conditions and driving style.

For more challenging terrain, the centre differential can be locked to further boost traction and stability. In extreme off road conditions the transmission’s transfer case can be used to select low-range mode – and we are really looking forward to playing with this.

Also contributing to the Grand Vitara’s off road abilities is a 200 mm ground clearance and reasonably short front and rear overhangs although I suspect, with the towbar in position, this will be compromised and long-travel suspension. Interestingly the Grand Vitara has a integrated ladder frame monocoque chassis.

The chassis rides on an all-independent suspension with front MacPherson struts with coil springs and anti-roll bar, coupled to a multi-link rear system. So far we can tell that for a vehicle capable of serious off roading the ride quality is pretty decent.

The Grand Vitara is covered by a three-year/100 000 km warranty and a six-year/90 000 km service plan.