GRAND VI­TARA

Pi­o­neer­ing the compact SUV, Suzuki has con­tin­ued to de­velop its offering and al­ways present a sporty, value packed propo­si­tion.

New Zealand Fishing World - - Destinations -

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.

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