Suzuki Grand Vitara

The Grand Vitara was a more luxurious replacement for Suzuki's long-running Vitara at its launch in April 1998. It was usefully larger, more refined and came in three-door short-wheelbase or five-door LWB form. The even longer and better appointed XL-7 followed in 2001, seating up to seven at a squeeze.

The Grand Vitara was a more luxurious replacement for Suzuki's long-running Vitara at its launch in April 1998. It was usefully larger, more refined and came in three-door short-wheelbase or five-door LWB form. The even longer and better appointed XL-7 followed in 2001, seating up to seven at a squeeze. Prices have always been competitive; 2001's GV1600 soft-tops cost the same as a supermini, and the five-door V6 less than a basic Land Rover Freelander. But a low-rent interior and sub-Freelander size revealed how this was achieved. Still, the Suzuki is very reliable in a class plagued with troublesome models. Don't underestimate the car's off-road prowess, either. It may not be the trendiest mud-plugger, but it's one of the most affordable and dependable.Checklist * Interior: dashboards are very plasticky. This was cured on 2003 models with a new interior, but either assembly should be rattle-free, even in the earliest examples. * Bodywork: paint is thin in places and chips easily. Check the side panels in particular for scratches which could indicate off-road use. Also, examine the underbody closely. * Engine: avoid cars with oil leaks, as repairing them can be very costly. Check the history to ensure oil was changed every 6,000 miles on earlier 88bhp TD versions. * Suspension: front ball joints can wear prematurely. Although these are not expensive parts, labour means costs can mount up fast. Listen out for knocking and vibration through the steering wheel. * Security: lack of an alarm, even on soft-tops, pushes insurance ratings up, so get a quote before you start looking. Soft-top roof is fiddly, and very easy to break into.Driving Impressions Off-road, the Grand Vitara is superb, but this compromises it on tarmac. The ride is choppy and bouncy, and it leans through corners. The 1.6-litre engine is gutless - go for the 2.0 petrol or, better still, the diesel. While the V6 is punchy and sounds great, it's thirsty. Passengers may not like the cramped rear, but refinement is reasonable at speed, and the high-set seats aid town driving.Glass's View The Suzuki Grand Vitara was one of the main players in the SUV market, but is now being left behind as more modern cars arrive. A competent off-roader, it appeals to buyers who want chunky looks and genuine mud-plugging ability. Servicing schedules will have assumed the car has spent its life off-road, so maintenance can be relatively expensive. And as with most SUVs, diesel versions are popular and tend to hold their price, while V6 petrol models will struggle. Jeff Paterson, senior editor, Glass's GuideLife With A Grand Vitara The ride's a bit harsh and I find my Vitara thirsty, but it's great off-road and is an ideal farm vehicle. It's cheap and cheerful - but you get a lot for your money! Jeff Barfield, Holymoorside, Derbys Compared to my old Toyota RAV4, the Vitara is dreadful. I made a mistake buying it - I'm sure the Suzuki is perfect for rural use, but as a comfort-oriented SUV it leaves a great deal to be desired. Kevin Waller, Hook, Hants

Verdict

Now the Vitara is no more, the Grand Vitara takes over its role as Suzuki's medium-sized SUV. Facing new, improved competition from the Toyota RAV4, the Grand Vitara still has some of the most pleasing styling in its class. The driving position and front seats are supportive and the facia well designed. Boot space is so-so. While the three-door is tight in the rear, the five-door gains much-needed legroom. It's a compromised package, but no worse than some rivals.

Most Popular

New Suzuki S-Cross 2021 review
Suzuki S-Cross - front
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross SUV

New Suzuki S-Cross 2021 review

The all-new Suzuki S-Cross is excellent value for money and good to drive, but it’s slightly utilitarian interior won’t appeal to all buyers
25 Nov 2021
Lexus LC Coupe and Convertible gain chassis upgrades for 2022
Lexus LC 2021 - front
Lexus LC

Lexus LC Coupe and Convertible gain chassis upgrades for 2022

Lexus says mechanical tweaks have made the LC more comfortable and improve its handling
26 Nov 2021
Dacia Sandero Stepway: long-term test review
Dacia Sandero long termer - front
Dacia Sandero Stepway

Dacia Sandero Stepway: long-term test review

Final report: Jacked-up Dacia Sandero hatch wins hearts and minds of Dawn’s family
26 Nov 2021