Suzuki Motors certainly don't stand still. The new Grand Vitara diesel is one fun car to drive with terrific economy, great performance and some of the lowest emission figures around.
There is no question Suzuki has stole a march on its rivals with this unit. And it has done so without sacrificing one bit of what has made the Grand Vitara such a strong off-road performer in the petrol models.
The Grand Vitara, for those that become lost in the forest of SUV soft-roaders out there, is still a 4x4 in every sense of the word with low range gearing that can pull it through bogs, up steep slopes and through those nasty beach approach and entry areas.
The heart of the beast is a state-of-the-art (Renault sourced) 1.9L common rail variable vane turbo-charged four-cylinder engine, which develops some 300Nm of torque at 2,000rpm and 95kW at 3750rpm.
Put in perspective the diesel generates more torque than the quad cam Grand Vitara 2.7L V6 petrol that delivers 250Nm of torque. Impressive stuff.
The engine is powerful. I drove to Warwick in the test car and I have no doubt whatsoever that if it were not for the couple of trucks I encountered on the winding gradient I could easily have scaled the range in fifth gear, the engine was just that strong. On the trip to Warwick and back the Suzuki averaged 7.8L per 100km. Impressive again.
This model has a bit of a muscle car feel to it. Turning it on reveals a lively little chatter that settles down somewhat as the engine warms up and the car moves off. The 5-speed manual gearbox is so easy to navigate that even a die-hard automatic driver should have no trouble with the shift pattern.
There is still a little engine vibration but this is a tough little vehicle that can take a lot of off road travel due to the ample ground clearance, 17” wheels, modest front and rear overhangs and a relatively light weight.
The list of standard equipment with the diesel Grand Vitara is certainly impressive. There's climate control air conditioning, ABS, power assistance for various functions, an easy cruise control system, leather bound wheel, CD with MP3 audio linked to steering wheel controls and remote keyless entry.
In short the vehicle has virtually everything the Grand Vitara Prestige model has except for all-leather trim and the one touch door system. The diesel also has remote keyless entry.
Suzuki's safety package is quite impressive: ABS is standard with electronic brake force distribution, traction control and stability control.
As mentioned this is a 'proper' four wheel drive with a centre limited slip differential for times when push turns to shove. Constant four-wheel drive is the norm with ‘lock’ and ‘low’ available at the push of a dash mounted switch. In tests, response was instant with no hint of lag.
The new engine is certainly striving to keep its carbon footprint low. It surpasses Euro 4 exhaust emission requirements thanks to the Bosch common rail fuel system that has fuel bled off from a high-pressure reservoir (at up to 1600 bar or over 40,000 psi) and is then injected five times during a combustion cycle to ensure the cleanest possible burn.
Similarly the water cooled Garett turbo does it's bit to assist combustion via a boost monitor that controls the vanes for maximum air input efficiency. Low revs make the vanes of the turbo spin quickly to provide boost while higher revs will see the turbo vanes at a steep angle to provide less boost as required. The result of this smart bit of technology is that the turbo provides more boost at lower revs to avoid turbo lag.
Last but not least is an emission particle filter that actually burns off material it collects to keep emissions to that ultra low Euro 4 compliance level.
This vehicle is a head above its rivals. It has ample power, frugal fuel consumption and will carry up to five people in comfort. The split fold rear seating system will accommodate quite a bit of cargo and there's a security blind in the rear to keep sun or prying eyes off the rear cargo, plus there's a neat underfloor compartment for storage. Best of all is the price at $34,990.Reads: 8750