Fresh from a jaunt in Mitsy’s new three-door Shogun, Lisa Curtiss went to sample Suzuki’s latest SWB baby, the three-door Grand Vitara. This is what she found…
You may remember I reviewed the fivedoor Grand Vitara last year. I had to admit, after hearing some not so positive things about it, that I was relieved to find, although it’s not exactly a Discovery 3, it was nevertheless an adequate, well-priced performer. In fact, as long as you kept your offroading to venturing down the odd rumbly track to a summer country show, and wore ear plugs to block out the rather excessive road and engine noise, you’d get along with it just fine. If the 4×4 status is important to you, this new three-door version can tackle some reasonably challenging off-road conditions, with its intercooled and turbocharged engine that produces a decent 221lb ft of torque at 2,000 rpm.
It has permanent, four-wheel drive, with a centre differential lock, and low range. Okay, it’s certainly not going to be presenting much of an off-road challenge to the likes of the ultimate off-road supremo and mud-plugger extraordinaire, the Land Rover Defender, or even Jeep’s new hot-and-handy Wrangler, but considering it’s reasonable capability in this arena, the great price, inoffensive looks, commendable fuel economy (38.1 mpg Combined), interior space, and decent enough on-road performance, the three-door Vitara is well worth a second look.
I’m not saying this because I’ve a whopping soft spot for Suzuki. In fact, given the cars that it shared road time and garage space with, which included pocket rockets Mazda 3 MPS, Renault’s R26 and R27, plus the Golf GTi Edition 30 – all quite rightly acclaimed as the hottest hatches around – I have rather surprised myself at how warm and fuzzy I’m feeling towards the Suzuki three-door.
I fully expected to be cursing worse than Gordon Ramsay at evidence of a woeful lack of oomph when leaping from these thoroughbred beauties to…well…something altogether more stocky, sturdy, and pack-horse-esque. But no. I found I was quite content pottering around again, perched high enough to have a nose into peoples’ back gardens and decking disasters. Okay, you’re hardly going to break the sound barrier in this ‘3-GV’, but if you are considering it, you’re probably going to be more interested in whether it’s a good kiddy carriage, has boot space to cope with a Tesco’s weekly shop, is economical, and well, just ‘nice’ to drive. The boxy, although quite attractive, exterior lacks the handsome, butch, gorgeous looks of the new Shogun three-door, and the interior is a tad on the cheap and cheerful side, but then for the money, you’re not going to expect to be encased in leather luxury. It is, however, roomy front and rear – although being a three-door, it has its drawbacks when loading and unloading kiddies and car seats. The dash is functional, with everything well-placed.
The one snag, and it’s a big one as far as I’m concerned, is the lack of boot space (a tiny 184 litres with back seats up, 516 litres with them down). It’s a shortcoming shared by this and by other three-doors, such as the new Shogun. There’s barely enough length for a couple of carrier bags full to the brim of cat food.
Drive wise, gear changes are relatively smooth, the ride’s good – comfortably firm without being wallowy. Overall, it feels quite willing, if not exactly ready to set your pants on fire, but it is, I hate to say, really noisy – and in an unbecoming, agricultural chuggy way. Road noise seems to be less intrusive, though. All in all, this is a versatile, capable, cute car which is well-priced and well-equipped.
On sale: Now// Price from: £14,299 OTR
- Price: £14,299
- Engine: 1870cc, four-cylinder, 8-valve,compression ignition, common-rail direct injection
- Max Power: 127bhp at 3,750 rpm
- Max Torque: 221lb ft at 2,000 rpm
- Towing Weight: 1,600kg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 195g/km (F)
- 0-62mph: 12.8 secs
- Max speed: 105 mph
For the money, you’re getting a decent enough, well-equipped versatile car here. Economical and adequately roomy
Small boot, engine noise, interior a tad on the dull side, which all makes it an ‘also ran’ against most SUVs