|  First Published: October 2006

Suzuki’s new Grand Vitara Prestige takes comfort and convenience to a higher level. Drivers and passengers are spoiled with special features so this compact 4WD shouldn’t be dismissed as a ‘soft roader’.

Features of this great offroad vehicle include: ample ground clearance, a monocoque body incorporating ladder framework, fully independent suspension with MacPherson struts up front and multi link set-up at the rear. These are all mated to a 4-mode 4x4 set-up that can be changed via a dash mounted dial linked to a centre differential. The same car will happily whiz around the suburbs in all-wheel high range mode serving as a superb commuter with torque split 47% to front and 53% to rear wheels thanks to the willing 2.7L V6 engine.

The Grand Vitara I reviewed was a 5-speed auto. The additional Prestige trimmings spoiled me with leather seats and wheel, wood grain dash and door trim, 17” alloy wheels, front, side and curtain air bags; 6 stack CD player, cruise control, keyless start and entry and fog lamps. Naturally, power windows and mirrors were standard, as was plenty of onboard storage space.

Driving position was great, with plenty of head and leg room. Three main dials are centrally located for quick reference with a dash mounted trip/fuel meter indicating fuel consumption, which was 8.5L/100km on a highway run. Cruise control will require a little more, but it’s a very convenient set up with a switch mounted on the wheel to activate it.

Excellent lights, a high seating position and plenty of visibility make for safe highway driving at night on country roads. The same driving position combines two very large side mirrors that minimise the risk of a motorcycle or the like sneaking up into a blind spot in heavy traffic.

Whether punting along a windy back road, corrugated gravel tracks or eating up a stretch of bitumen, driving the Suzuki is fun. Suzuki has made no secret of the fact that they promote the Grand Vitara as a ‘sporty’ and ‘fun to drive’ vehicle, and it certainly lives up to expectations.

With the rigid body set-up and independent suspension the Suzuki has a low turret height. The steering and suspension set-up feedback is firm which makes for a confident vehicle. The Grand Vitara takes all sorts of travel conditions in its stride.

At 135kW the vehicle’s power is adequate.

I noticed that on some formed surfaces the road noise was a little intrusive. I think this was a result of the tread on the tyres that are intended to perform onroad or offroad. This was particularly noticeable when travelling on the M1 to the Gold Coast with its mix of bitumen and concrete surfaces.


Few can match the Grand Vitara Prestige when it comes to excellence in fit and finish.

And thoughtful use of space sees a reasonably large rear compartment for storage of gear, plus an out of sight private storage bin below the floor level. Topping it off is a blind that folds down to keep rear stored items from view.

This is one well-manufactured vehicle and should give a long life of useful service to an owner, along with a high degree of pride of ownership.

The Grand Vitara Prestige retails for around the $36,990 mark plus on roads.

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