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Looking for grandness in Suzuki’s Grand Vitara

And to think I already thought Suzuki’s Jimny was (somewhat) rugged (in a nice kind of way). But then came along the Grand Vitara, a somewhat mean-looking/performing vehicle, and, well… I’ll have to do some reconsidering.

On the outside, the car actually looks… Spartan (if not – to be very blunt – common).

Yes, I’d say that just as expected from Suzuki, this one is also not boxy, and its curves give it a sporty appearance. This is “helped” by the car’s 188mm ground clearance (thank you 17-inch alloy wheels!) that give one that (driver’s) feeling of being an overlord (i.e. that “I’m taller than you all!” feeling). But there’s nothing… memorable on the outside of the Grand Vitara for me, even if it has an extra pair of fog lamps, third break light, silver accents to the car’s side and up top for the roof rails, signal repeaters installed on the side mirrors, and (at the rear) a coy pair of tail lights on the opposite sides of the 5th door (where the cover for the spare tire and door handle have the same shade as the body).

Some say it’s “minimalist”; and that it’s not “calling attention to itself” (unlike, say, Jeep’s Wrangler, or even Suzuki’s Swift). I’d still say… “usual”.

It is in the inside where, for me, the Grand Vitara starts to become somewhat more… ostentatious.

The seats are fabric upholstered; but unlike, say, Ertiga, this one (from the get go) seems to say it’s okay being messed with, with its dark-colored everything (dark seats, and black leather with pale trimmings on the doors). Akin to Ciaz, the stereo controls are embedded on the tilting/telescoping steering wheel. The (I have to say somewhat big, particularly when you first see it) dashboard is segmented into three “parts” to show the tachometer, speedometer and fuel/temperature gauges. There are also stats for real-time fuel mileage, average fuel consumption, and distance showing an estimate of how many kms the car can still cover before you run out of juice. There’s a touchscreen Android-run player (again, similar to Ciaz), connectivity ports stuffed inside the glove compartment (these don’t work, though, if that radio’s turned off), and dual 12V sockets.

The legroom was great for both front and back; but the headroom’s not that great at the back (surprising considering the car IS big inside).

The fifth door at the back reveals the luggage space. This isn’t big; but it suffices…

BTW, from the driver’s seat, I have one “issue”. The overall feel of the car is “sturdy”, with everything seemingly constructed firmly/thickly. This is – generally speaking – A-OK for me; but while driving, this “thickness” was also troublesome for me as it had that tendency to cover up my line of vision, particularly as far as approaching vehicles at my left are concerned…

Performance-wise, the Grand Vitara more than sufficed for me, thanks I should say to its 2.4-liter engine (the 16-valve DOHC engine also comes with variable valve timing or VVT).

For instance, I drove the car to:

  1. Cape Santiago in Batangas, where – while heading there – one wrong turn means needing to brave rocky roads. Though the car felt “big”, it fit even tight spots (e.g. that “bridge” from the main road going to Cape Santiago’s lighthouse). It was also able to tackle unpaved roads there…
  2. Lake Pandin in San Pablo, Laguna, a somewhat new tourist attraction that doesn’t have the best roads (yet). Similar to the Cape Santiago experience, the Grand Vitara survived the trip.
  3. Lucena City from Tagaytay via Talisay-Tanauan Road. If you’re familiar with this route, you’d know that driving here means braving very STEEP and very NARROW roads. Grand Vitara didn’t choke (not even once) climbing or going downhill…
  4. Luisiana, Laguna (to buy the famed bibingka), where the car was able to survive numerous turns, twists and bumps.

There are two issues I encountered re Grand Vitara that are worth mentioning.

On the one hand, it’s a bit of greedy with fuel consumption (in my experience, just 325kms from full tank to nil), averaging around 8km/L fuel consumption (for combined city and out-of-town driving).

On the other hand, while the Grand Vitara had no issues accelerating (even when climbing steep slopes), it did have issues with turning corners. If you’re familiar with the way many roads are expanded in smaller towns/provinces, you’d know that some of these expansions are done STUPIDLY – i.e. the roads are widened, but the electric poles, giant trees, et cetera are retained right in the middle of the expanded parts. When in these roads, therefore, overtaking may mean hitting a pole in the middle of the road. And with the Grand Vitara’s issue re cornering, this (for me) proved challenging…

All in all, for those looking for a “sturdy” car sans any of the dramas (e.g. “sexy”, “butch”, and so on), then the Grand Vitara is definitely worth considering. This one can make one confident while being on the road…

The Suzuki Grand Vitara comes in: Superior White, Silky Silver Metallic, Quasar Grey Metallic, Bluish Black Pearl and Bison Brown Pearl Metallic. It is available in two variants: Grand Vitara 2.4L – A/T, which sells for P1,160,000; and Special Edition 2.4L – A/T, which sells for P1,210,000.

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