Suzuki Grand Vitara

Does nip and tuck make SUV a class contender?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

A minor facelift and uprated engine line-up have improved the Grand Vitara. Fuel economy and emissions are much more competitive. But it might have been a better use of Suzuki’s resources to address the flaws that have held the car back. While it retains its off-road ability, in town the SUV trails the class’s best.

It’s one of the original soft-roaders, but the Suzuki Grand Vitara isn’t growing old gracefully!

The popular model has had a mild facelift in a bid to help it stand out in the competitive SUV market. Ruling the roost in this fashion-conscious sector is never easy, but the fresh front bumper, grille and 18-inch alloys give a modern feel that should keep the car in contention.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Grand Vitara

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New to the engine line-up is an updated 1.9-litre diesel, which bosses claim is more refined than the previous unit. We tried it, and it feels much livelier than the 12.8-second 0-62mph sprint time suggests.

It also promises to be more efficient, returning 40.4mpg and emitting 183g/km of CO2. Yet a certain amount of engine noise still enters the cabin and it sounds far too agricultural.

Adding to the Suzuki’s woes is an over-sensitive throttle pedal that can make driving in slow-moving traffic a chore. A rigid ladder-frame chassis is good for off-roading, but means the Vitara tends to crash over everyday lumps and bumps.

Inside, despite feeling basic, the cabin looks smart and is generously equipped. Our £19,975 SZ5 model was fitted with a six-disc CD changer, heated leather seats and air-con, as well as front, side and curtain airbags.

The high driving position offers a great view of the road. Plus, the rear has plenty of room for two adults, while the boot gives 398 litres of space.

For everyday city driving, the new Vitara isn’t the most comfortable option then. But impressive off-road credentials, including a low-range setting on the gearbox, make it a sensible choice for buyers wanting a good-value, capable SUV.

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