Suzuki's Grand Vitara has always been something of a quiet achiever. Renowned for its off road ability, it has often put some of its larger more fancied rivals to shame in the rough stuff.
Curious then that Suzuki should bow to contemporary tastes and deliver a two-wheel drive version of the five-seat wagon, albeit rear wheel drive. But then you've got to make a living somehow or other and this could be just what the doctor ordered? Suzuki's Tony Devers says the Grand Vitara has always been popular with drivers aged over 50 and research has shown the fast growing 35-49 year old market has a strong preference for 2WD.
At a driveaway price of $26,990 it makes for interesting reading. By removing the four wheel drive system Suzuki has effectively slashed the price of the wagon by $4500. And, if you don't care a jot about going off road or not that's going to make it super attractive. Standard features include cruise control, rear park assist, Bluetooth, electric windows, remote locking and three 12 volt outlets (two in the front and one in the cargo area).
The Urban, like all petrol models, is offered exclusively with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, paired with a five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic. The latter adds $2000 to the price. The 2.4-litre engine is good for 122kW of power and 225Nm of torque from 4000 revs. The big point of difference between this and other two-wheel drive SUVs is that drive goes to the rear wheels in this one.
The Grand Vitara has been around in its present form for a few years and it shows. There's a lot of old school stuff like a four speed auto, no reach adjust for the wheel and the trim and cabin plastics could not be described as lavish. A makeoever has seen the addition of a bold new face with a new grille and bumper and new wheels and seat fabrics plus two new colours - Gaia Bronze and Bison Brown.
Only gets four out of five stars from ANCAP. But gets a full complement of safety systems including six airbags, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution (EBD), brake assist system (BAS) as well as traction and electronic stability control.
Whoa! A small car and relatively large engine makes for spirited performance. Put your foot down and the Urban takes off like a cut snake. But the tradeoff appears to be in fuel consumption because it's a thristy little bugger. Although rated at 9.9 litres/100km we were more than a little surprised to see it returning 11.2 litres/100km according to the trip computer. That was in just under 500km of mainly freeway driving.
The funny thing is though it seemed to drop around town when you'd normally expect consumption to rise. Fitted with 16 inch steel wheels and 225/70 rubber, the ride from 16 in wheels and is firmish bordering on harsh at times but it sits flat in corners and there is very little body roll unlike most of the soft roaders. With only four cogs to play with it also hunts between third and fourth a bit, but not enough to be annoying.
Like it. Like it a lot. Nothing fancy, but it does what it does very well. Suzuki knows its stuff and at the price you can't go wrong.
Suzuki Grand Vitara Urban
Price: from $26,990
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Service interval: 15,000km
Crash rating: 4 star ANCAP
Safety: 6 airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, TC, ESC
Engine: 2.4-litre 4-cyl petrol, 122kW/225Nm
Transmission: 5-speed manual/4 speed auto, RWD
Dimensions: 4.5m (L), 1.81 (W), 1.7m (H)
Spare: Full size steel
Thirst: 91 RON ULP 9.9L/100km, 212/234g/km CO2