- We like...Price; generously equipped
- We don't...Restless ride
Pint-sized off-roader looks like a lot for little cash - and now comes with a new diesel engine. Should you buy one? We find out Short , smart and cheap. Not words you’ll often apply together to an off-roader. But they work for the Suzuki Grand Vitara three-door. It’s in a little space of its own because no other maker builds anything quite like it – rivals are bigger, heavier and way dearer.
For the same money you’d give for a modestly-specced small hatchback, Suzuki will give you a fully off-road-capable four-seater. From outside, it looks expensive and well finished for the money but once in the cabin you’ll see that the fit and finish of the cabin plastics is a quality step below that of top European manufacturers. That matters less than it might because our mid-trim SZ4 model is at least packed with standard kit. Keyless entry and digital air con are highlights, although the keyfob you must carry is a whopper – too big for dainty pockets.
To drive, the controls are as light as a supermini’s. That’s good if you’ve only driven small cars before but, if you’re stepping over from another 4x4 it’ll feel weird for the first couple of journeys. Otherwise it’s an easy drive and judging its front corners for parking is a cinch, but its wide rear pillars make reversing into tight spaces dicey. It’s strictly a four seater and legroom for those in the back will be tight if the front occupants need their seats pushed back. Those rear seats drop flat to add to the otherwise titchy boot space, which you reach through the side-hung door. This is heavy enough to make opening it tricky if you’ve parked facing down a steep hill.
The diesel motor is rattly when cold and a noise-maker even once warmed but it pulls strongly from low revs and is reasonably economical, though its CO2 emissions are high, which’ll push up the price of road tax. It’s linked to a five-speed manual gearbox and a transmission that gives power it along in four-wheel drive, giving a choice high and low ratio gears by using a switch on the dash. That and its ample ground clearance suggest that the Vitara would be a useful friend if crossing a boggy forest track.
But on road its ride is restless – jolting over poor surfaces but rarely settling even where the Tarmac is good. And at motorway speeds there’s a fair deal of tyre and wind noise. It handles well, though, turning into bends neatly and accurately and displaying reassuring levels of grip.
Should you buy one? Comparing prices across other off-roaders will have you rooting for the Suzuki. And now that Toyota makes its RAV4 only as a five-door, it has few like-for-like new-car rivals. It’s stylish and well finished, too. Against ranks its restless ride, high insurance grouping (which'll increase the cost of cover) and its cramped rear cabin. Still, if you can live with the drawbacks, it’s something of a bargain.
To read the motors.co.uk review of the five-door Suzuki Vitara 2.4, click here
To view and buy new and used Suzuki Grand Vitaras on motors.co.uk, click here
- Engines1.9 diesel
- 0-60 mph12.8secs
- Insurance groups14
Motors.co.uk value verdict: