The Grand Vitara DDiS comes well equipped as standard including 17-inch alloys wheels, ESP, leather-bound steering wheel, climate control, MP3-compatible audio system with single-stack CD and steering wheel remote controls, six airbags and three 12-volt auxiliary outlets.
Inside, the cabin is light and airy and you can’t complain about the all-round vision.
Upfront, driver and passenger get well-padded seats that prove supportive over a long stint. The 60/40-split fold rear seat is comfortable and offers room for three, if they are not all adults. Head and legroom front and rear are acceptable.
The dashboard is simple and well laid out, the controls fall logically to hand and the leather-bound steering wheel is just the right size.
Above-average sound quality and simplicity of use mark the single-stack CD audio system, while the climate control delivers a huge airflow and has no trouble cooling the cabin on a hot day.
The Grand Vitara DDiS gets its 1.9-litre turbocharged common-rail diesel engine from Renault. It punches out 95kW @ 3,750rpm and 300Nm @ 2,000rpm, sufficient for a passenger vehicle but not quite enough at times for a heavier 4WD. Although a bit noisy and coarse, the engine moves the DDiS along provided you give it plenty of revs.
Power gets to the wheels via a five-speed manual transmission and a full-time 4WD system with an electronic dual-range transfer case. The gearshift is a bit rugged but works in the car’s favour when it’s time to get off the beaten track.
It’s not very quick around town and turbo lag means you can be left struggling. Highway overtaking requires care and the engine needs to be spinning at 2,000rpm or more to give real torque.
However for all its faults around town, off-road, especially on sand the DDiS shows its true 4WD ability. The dual-range transfer case is easy to use and the car’s low-range lugging ability pulled us through some sticky situations. The Grand Vitara went easily where some larger 4WD struggled.
Driven sensibly around town we saw around 8.4L/100kms, while freeway and country driving saw it head down to 8.0. The official consumption of 7.0 L/100kms might be within view on the open road if Suzuki fitted a 6-speed gearbox as its absence results in higher revs, higher fuel usage and more noise than ideal.
The Grand Vitara DDiS now has ventilated disc brakes all-round and they do a good job in hand with ABS and Suzuki’s Electronic Stability Program and Traction Control System.
Compact externally but roomy internally, well-equipped, CRD engine, dual-range transmission, real 4WD ability – the Grand Vitara DDiS has it pretty well covered if you want a no-nonsense small 4WD with some creature comforts but don’t need a full-size 4WD to get off the beaten track. Its performance around town might raise a few niggles, in common with some other SUVs, but once off-road its 4WD ability really shines.
What is good:
• Full-time 4WD and dual-range transfer case
• Off-road ability
What is not so good:
• Noisy, coarse diesel engine
• Performance around town
• Needs 6-speed gearbox
Model Suzuki Grand Vitara DDiS
Model Price $36,465 RDAP
Drivetrain 4WD 1.9L Diesel 5 speed manual
Power 95 kW @ 3,750 rpm
Torque 300 Nm @ 2,000 rpm
Safety 4 Star ANCAP
CO2 Emissions 185 gm/km
Green Vehicle Rating 3.5 star
Economy (ADR comb) 7.0 L/100km
Tow Capacity – Max 2,000 kg
Tow Ball Rating 150 kg
Servicing $1,770 3yrs/60,000km
Warranty 3yr/ 100,000 kms
Overall OzRoamer Rating 80/100
Behind the Wheel 8
Ride & Handling 7
Fit for Purpose 9
Towing Ability 7
Off Road Ability 9
Value for Money 8