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Suzuki Grand Vitara Urban at the motor show

Call it a sign of the times: the new Suzuki’s Grand Vitara has a two-wheel-drive version. Suzuki was the last Japanese SUV maker to retain a full chassis and a low-range gearbox.

The two-wheel-drive version, called Urban, comes only with a 2.4- litre four-cylinder petrol engine matched to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Unlike its competitors, the two-wheel-drive Grand Vitara Urban drives the rear wheels.

Two main benefits for buyers who don’t intend to take the vehicle off the bitumen are a cheaper price – saving $4500 over the 4WD version – and because many drivetrain components have been removed, a lighter weight and lower average fuel consumption of 8.9 litres/100km compared with 9.9 litres/100km.

The Urban is priced from $26,990 driveaway. Its rear-drive layout makes it ideal for buyers wanting a 2WD but still aiming to tow. The Urban maintains the 1850kg tow capacity of the 4WD model. Features include cruise control, rear park assist, Bluetooth and remote locking, six airbags and stability control.

Two-wheel-drive models now account for almost half all SUV sales.