Pioneering the compact SUV, Suzuki has continued to develop its offering and always present a sporty, value packed proposition.
Although many boat towing traditionalists would look sideways at the smaller size of the Vitara we have learnt from experience that its 2.4 litre Variable Valve Timing plant and dual ratio permanent 4WD makes for a surprisingly capable combination.
Last year we tested its towing ability by strapping with a 5-metre FC Centre Console to the back and launching it in and out of the boat ramp at Leigh.
Anyone that knows that spot will be aware of how tight and steep the location is, as well as just how deep the mud is at low tide. A larger package would both bottom out and get stuck in the mud on the retrieval. No such dramas for the Vitara.
When considering most new modern Japanese vehicles, there are certain expectations that might well be taken for granted. It will naturally drive and handle well, be fuel efficient, offer high safety ratings and be well appointed with extras befitting its comparable price level specification.
What sets certain models apart from the rest is X-factor, and that’s where the Grand Vitara takes a couple of steps forward. To my eye it thumbs its nose at Parnell tractor-like SUVS with its compact nature, but bull terrier like attitude. Comfortable as an everyday urban hatch, with its slick black leather and charcoal wood look interior, the Vitara offers snappy performance both under the heel and in the handling department.
Without wanting to sound too much like a typically politically correct motoring journo we really did sail over the steep, winding Coromandel ranges with the heavily loaded roof rack not even noticeable in the handling. The Grand Vitara felt tall but cornered like a firm riding hatchback with crisp turn in, smooth progressive braking and not a hint of body roll.
Equally happy on the beach, ski field or school run, the Grand Vitara can clearly wear a collection of hats that make it an incredibly capable adventure-bound allrounder. The 5 door JLX model that we tested, comes equipped with a collection of exterior and interior treats that we, and our kayaks, became quite attached to.
Suzuki brand this its Adventure package and it is available as added value across the entire Grand Vitara Range. Factory Pro-rack crossbars are concrete solid and ready to accept a range of aftermarket accessories, including Thule, without a sign of wind noise at any cruising speed.
A grunty nudge bar helps adds looks and longevity to the front end while a reversing camera ensures confidence in tight spots and the ultra important safety aspects of clear views at all levels behind.
Inside, the eye is drawn immediately to a Garmin touch screen satellite navigation screen, which doubles as the Bluetooth enabled entertainment system. Entertaining enough to have the kids arguing about who would sit up front, this system was intuitive and fool proof to operate without referring to a dreaded instruction manual.
Priced from $29.990 plus ORC (the 5 door JLX model we tested was $39,990 plus ORC) the Grand Vitara not only promises adventure, it delivers.