Executive Motoring

Grand fun in Suzuki Vitara

by Mike Ochonma

November 20, 2013 | 12:00 am
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Anyone buying a luxury car will no doubt want to use it for some proper off-road fun. That is the story like Suzuki Grand Vitara. Not only does it offer a pleasurable 4×4 driving experience, it comes with a full on low range option and obviously if one is going to pay the extra for the ability, it makes sense to use it.

In fact, if you are not up for some off-roading, it is really a waste of time and resources buying a 4×4, not only because the vehicle costs more upfront, but even modern 4×4 systems add significant weight and drag across the transmission.

This can be mitigated a bit in vehicles which offer a 4×2 mode, but in any configuration, a 4×4 will burn more fuel even under normal road conditions than a conventional two-wheel-drive set-up. The Grand Vitara 2.4 models feature a four-cylinder, 2,393 cc powerplant with twin overhead camshafts and variable valve timing (VVT), they produce 122 kW of maximum power at 6,000 rpm. The torque peak of 225 Nm is achieved at 4,000 rpm in the five-speed manual transmission.

This meant that, in low range particularly, it was possible to rev a little high searching for torque and break traction on the tyres. But with a little practice a gentler foot meant that obstacles could be approached and negotiated fairly easily.

A 200 mm ground clearance is adequate as the Grand Vitara is a compact SUV riding on a modest wheelbase so the breakover angle is not bad. Although the front and rear overhangs are reasonably short, the vehicle is fitted with a towbar which eats into the departure angle significantly as it must clear the tailgate-mounted full size alloy spare wheel.

It can be removed quite easily and this would be advisable when doing any serious rock climbing. The Grand Vitara has a rugged integrated ladder frame monocoque chassis, and traverses uneven cross-axle inducing terrain without leaving the driver being afraid of the car. Standard are 17-inch alloy wheels that are capable of offering reasonably good grip on soft and slippery sand, especially when it is considered to be heavily road biased.

The system employs a torque-sensing centre differential that can vary power between the front and rear axles depending on road conditions and driving style. For more challenging terrain, the centre differential can be locked to further boost traction and stability.

The suspension has front MacPherson strut with coil springs and anti-roll bar, coupled to a multi-link rear system that is capable of providing all the articulation for the driver for an extremely comfortable ride. This is a major consideration when buying a family 4×4. This is because the wife and kids will not thank you for a bone-jarring afternoon of off- roading just because you bought a 4×4 that was far harder than was necessary.


by Mike Ochonma

November 20, 2013 | 12:00 am
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