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Wheels of the Week: Grand Vitara gets you places

Going places in the Grand Vitara is comfortable, safe and economical, writes SHERYL GOLDSTUCK.

It has been a while since the Grand Vitara graced the South African market, leaving a void in the realm of capable and budget-friendly compact SUVs. However, Suzuki made a roaring comeback in 2023 with the Grand Vitara, and I recently had the opportunity to experience the 1.5 GL MT variant.

My first impression of the Grand Vitara is that it has an eye-catching design and a sturdy build with sharp lines, a bold front grille and muscular wheel arches. The LED headlights and taillights add a touch of sophistication, and the build quality feels impressively robust.

Inside, the layout is functional, and everything is within easy reach. While the fabric seats may not be the fanciest, they prove comfortable for long journeys. Front seats are not electronic but really comfortable. The neck rest is positioned at just the right angle. I had good back support on the long journey.  The passengers in the back were able to stretch their legs and did not feel cramped.

The cargo space is an absolute feature of this SUV. Fetching overseas guests from the airport with tons of luggage was no problem at all. The suitcases and extra bags fitted with ease.

Going on a road trip to my hometown in Mpumalanga was made enjoyable by the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with cabled Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Although many of the areas have changed names, I was still able to recognise some of the names displayed on Google Maps on the infotainment screen.  Listening to music from the 70’s and 80’s via Bluetooth really hit the nostalgia button.

The rear view reverse camera is a very useful safety feature, as is the 360 degree aerial view of the SUV. This system has cameras linked to the display audio, which allows me to check my surroundings from the infotainment screen.

Despite its modest 1.5L naturally aspirated engine, the Grand Vitara 1.5 GL MT delivers a surprising punch. It may not win any drag races, but it possesses enough power to navigate city traffic and cruise comfortably on the highway. The 5-speed manual gearbox enhances the driving experience with its slick and precise feel. Fuel economy is commendable, averaging around 7.0L/100km in mixed driving conditions.

One of the Grand Vitara’s standout features is its off-road capability. With 210mm of ground clearance and Suzuki’s AllGrip all-wheel-drive system, it handles light to moderate off-roading with ease. Whether traversing gravel paths or sandy tracks, the Grand Vitara feels surefooted and composed. This made for a safe drive, managing the massive potholes and washed away tar roads on our journey. On regular roads, its impressive grip levels inspire confidence, especially when tackling corners.

The Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.5 GL MT is a fabulous compact SUV. It boasts striking looks, a spirited engine, surprising off-road prowess, and a practical cabin. The manual gearbox adds a touch of driving fun, and fuel efficiency is excellent.

Pricing for the Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.5 GL MT starts at R 347,900.

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