Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.0 VVT Inverness

After a life in the shadows of Japanese rivals, Suzuki is finally looking for its share of the limelight. The impressive Swift supermini was the first indication of its intentions, and there are now great expectations of the Grand Vitara SUV.

Pro-Bike (Inverness)
01463 714515
42 Millburn Road
Inverness
 
Saltire Suzuki
0131 478 6661 / 07976 408 430
4 Dundee Terrace
Fountainbridge
 
R M Hockey & Sons Ltd
01873 840170
The Bryn Garage, Penpergwm
Abergavenny
 
ATV Services Scotland (Hollybush)
01292 560239
The Ayrshire Centre, Meadow Park
Hollybush
 
ATV Services Scotland (Huntly)
0845 456 3846
The Aberdeenshire Centre, Corse of Kinnoir
Huntly
 
Frank Nicol Farm & Garden Machinery
01349 863854
Strathpeffer Road
Dingwall
 
Shirlaws Motorcycles
01224 584855
92 CROWN STREET
Aberdeen
 
Frank Nicol Farm & Garden Machinery
01349 863854
Strathpeffer Road
Dingwall
 
Frank Johnston Tractors Ltd (Dumfries)
01387 255 355
Dargavel, Lockerbie Rd
Dumfries
 
Mickey Oates Motorcycles
0141 332 7374
19 North Canalbank Street
Glasgow
 

Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.0 VVT

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After a life in the shadows of Japanese rivals, Suzuki is finally looking for its share of the limelight. The impressive Swift supermini was the first indication of its intentions, and there are now great expectations of the Grand Vitara SUV.

To find out if this all-new model - on sale now - lives up to its billing, we got behind the wheel of one of the first UK models. We drove the long-wheelbase five-door, which is available with a 2.0-litre petrol engine. A Renault-derived 1.9 DDiS diesel will join the line-up later this year, although the short-wheelbase three-door variant is available only with a 104bhp 1.6-litre petrol unit.

First impressions are positive, thanks to the chunky good looks and tidy detailing. Smart 17-inch alloy wheels and stylish lights also confirm that this car was designed for European tastes.

Inside, it's equally appealing. There's plenty of room for passengers, and the side-hinged tailgate provides fine access to a huge boot. The instrumentation is smart, while the simple centre console is clean and functional.

Standard climate control is also welcome, but there's no reach adjustment on the steering wheel and our manual example's naff chrome-effect gearlever surround looked cheap. However, there is a four-speed automatic option. Once behind the wheel, the positive initial impressions begin to fade, even though the driving position is comfortable and visibility good. The engine seems strained and underpowered, while the 0-60mph sprint feels slower than the quoted 12.5 seconds. Motorways speeds aren't a pro-blem, but reaching them is hard work.

Refinement does not match that of road-focused rivals such as the Toyota RAV4. Too much engine and transmission noise plus vibration find their way into the cabin. On a positive note, everything is well screwed together, so there are no rattles and squeaks.

Part of the problem is the permanent all-wheel-drive set-up, which is controlled via a simple rotary knob on the dash. Unlike many competitors, the Suzuki has a locking centre differential and even a set of low-range gears, which makes it a capable off-roader. However, this compromises the on-road experience, and while handling and ride are both more than acceptable, you'll never mistake the Grand Vitara for a family hatch.

For many buyers, the generous kit - front, side and curtain airbags are standard - and off-road ability will appeal. But for those planning to spend more time on tarmac, the forthcoming 93bhp oil-burner could be the best option.

Author: Ross Pinnock

Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.0 VVT