The 2013 model has seen some changes to the Suzuki Grand Vitara range; some visible, others not so obvious.
There’s a changed grille and bumper, new seat fabrics, 17” alloy wheels for top spec models, and 16” treads for others. Also, the Grand Vitara’s petrol V6 engine is now out of the engine bay with the tried and proven 2.4L 122kW, 225Nm four-cylinder petrol engine plus the acclaimed 1.9L DDIs diesel with its 95kW, 300Nm torque being viable alternatives.
The Grand Vitara’s handy lever activated 4WD capability with low range when required is still a very strong selling point. Other SUV makers offering AWD usually have front wheel drive as standard and power only activates rear wheels either when wheel slip is detected by sensors or upon driver’s command. None, however, offer true low range capacity like the Grand Vitara. It is still unique as it’s a ‘proper’ 4WD.
That aside, the winds of change are blowing. Suzuki are now offering a totally new model, the 2WD Urban. It clearly reflects the enormous and ever-growing demand for compact SUVs with 2WD rather than 4WD capability. The 2WD Urban directly competes with other makers in the $30,000 and below market niche, such as Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, and ASX, the Holden Captiva 5, Kia Sportage, Renault Koleos and even the Jeep Cherokee.
The new 2WD Urban differs greatly from its competitors as it offers rear rather than front wheel drive. Totally absent is the all too frequent torque- steer- on- power- application, which often rears its ugly head on vehicles driving through wheels each side of the engine bay. Instead the rear wheel drive Suzuki remains a very easy and entirely predictable vehicle to drive with an ability to tow pretty serious loads, thanks to a tow capacity of 1850kg for a braked trailer.
Despite being the least expensive of the Suzuki five door Grand Vitara line up, at $26,990 drive away, the Urban 2WD still retains quite a lot of Suzuki fruit, in the form of ABS, cruise control, rear park assist, Bluetooth connectivity, six air bags, electric windows plus stability control.
The new Urban is available in five-speed manual and four-speed auto specification, the manual being less expensive with $2,000 remaining in the pocket. I had no issue with the 2.4L (petrol) five-speed manual unit offered for review, and found it ideal when involved in a somewhat unique test.
Rather than simply drive the vehicle throughout a variety of road conditions and report on its capability in the usual manner, I had the opportunity to give the Grand Vitara Urban some serious towing chores! I set it up with a 5m Jayco Discovery pop top caravan complete with four burner stove, air-conditioner, microwave oven, three way fridge and (of course) a kitchen sink.
The 5m Jayco Discovery caravan had a gross tow mass of 1381kg, tare of 1194kg, plus tow ball load of around the 113kg mark; all specs being well under the Suzuki’s stated 1850kg tow capacity for a braked trailer.
I found the Jayco/Suzuki 2WD a very realistic set up. The rig towed quite well at 100km/h on open roads with only the need to occasionally check the wing mirrors to remain aware of other traffic.
While the Jayco Discovery was certainly larger than the boats I usually see in the rear view mirror I noticed the manual gearbox made easy work of selection, from first to fifth, thanks to the gears being well separated via a very positive gate. I also found the clutch to have plenty of bite, but was still quite light to operate.
In all, I gave the Suzuki full marks so far as a strong and robust towing unit was concerned. The rig moved off the mark quite well despite what one might regard as a modest-sized towing unit and above all had a reassuring feeling of balance at all times.
With the van off the tow ball, the Suzuki really had a chance to strut its stuff and I must say that after having driven the four-cylinder model I don’t believe the V6’s departure will be missed given the savings in registration and fuel. In fact the peppy four-cylinder 2.4L petrol saw the Suzuki quite quick off the mark, offering plenty of get up and go and yet returned around 9.2L per 100km during test drives with two aboard. With struts up front, a multi link rear suspension set up the ride was always somewhat on the firm side of soft (Suzuki still employs a ladder frame chassis under their Grand Vitaras) but was always quite well controlled.
Overall, a most enjoyable car to drive with ample room for four adults, five at a pinch, plenty of comfort all round, a 1386L of cargo volume with the rear seat lowered, and in 2WD guise, a bargain at $26,900 drive away price.
While there’s mighty stiff competition out there, the Grand Vitara still has a lot to offer with the 2WD models now filling a need that’s existed for some time.Reads: 6775