Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara | An Enthusiast's Daily Off-Roader?
Suzuki launched the Vitara compact SUV in 1988 to play an SUV marketed above the Jimny/Samurai/Gypsy. For certain reasons, this car was sold with various names like Grand Vitara XL-7, Grand Escudo XL-7, Escudo, Sidekick, Grand Vitara, Grand Nomade, Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara, Geo Tracker, Chevrolet Tracker, Chevrolet Grand Vitara XL-7, GMC Tracker, Asüna Sunrunner, Pontiac Sunrunner, Santana 300, Santana 350 and Mazda Proceed Levante.
The first three generations of Vitara were off-road focussed mini/compact/compact crossover SUVs but sadly, after entering the fourth generation in 2015, it became a subcompact crossover SUV with no off-roading capabilities at all. However, what I am going to focus on in this post is the second and third generation Grand Vitara that was sold in India and is not very rare to find now. The first generation XL-7 will be posted about in detail in a separate post.
As of now, the prices of the petrol I4 models generally ranges from ₹1.9 lakhs to ₹6.5 lakhs depending upon the variant and condition. This car is perfectly suited for a person who does not need a full-fledged SUV-feel they will get driving a mid-size SUV of a similar price range like Toyota Fortuner [2009-2015], Ford Endeavour [2006-2015], Mitsubishi Pajero, Force One, Nissan X-Trail, Tata Safari, Hyundai Terracan or Mahindra Scorpio [2002-2014]. It is meant more for people who prefer lower SUVs with a bit of crossover-like feeling to them. Other SUVs of this category are Chevrolet Forester, Hyundai Tucson [2005-2010] and Hyundai Santa Fe [2011-2014]. However, it must be kept in mind that this car although has a crossover-feel to it, does not compromise the off-road end. It is just that the natural habitat of these crossovers is more diverse than typical SUVs, which allows them comfort & practicality on road and considerable performance while off-roading. If you need this car to act as a daily carrier to your office or a car to drive to another city with family and luggage, it can perform both of these tasks easily with the help of its rich features, quality interiors, considerable power outputs, safety, space and ease of driving. On the opposite side of spectrum, you will have no problem driving it on rough terrain or even full-on off-road, but only with some upgrades. The quote box describes it in one sentence:
Summary of Reasons to buy it:
Price: In 2019, you can find these SUVs at prices around ₹1.9-₹6.5 lakhs but remember that you might not be able to find one in your city since they are a bit rare in India. It is a point to be noted that being a Suzuki car; it is bound to have cheap OEM parts but being a CBU, it is quite difficult to find proper parts at reasonable prices.
Practicality: The length of this car is ~4.5 m. This length makes it a better alternative to the scarcely found Forester, Santa Fe and Tucson as they are shorter. This also places it in rivalry with the significantly costlier Volkswagen Tiguan (₹28-31 lakhs), Honda CR-V (₹36-38 lakhs) and Skoda Kodiaq (₹35-₹37 lakhs), which mind you, also have significantly better features. However, the point here is that Vitara gives you everything but the features at a very affordable price with a considerably better off-road performance. As I stated earlier, Vitara is good enough for your daily chores, long drives and off-roading. The quality interiors are not to be left unnoticed. In addition, there certainly is not a lack of important features and creature comforts. The safety part is also uncompromised as it used to be quite a costly car when bought new.
Performance: Now this part interests me the most. The lesser engine offered in India was the 2 litre I4 producing 120 bhp and 170 Nm while the greater one was the 2.4 litre I4 producing 164 bhp and 225 Nm. Moreover, both the engines could be opted with a manual and an automatic transmission. The AWD system also helps, especially in off-roading. If you yearn for even more horses under the hood, you can visit a chip tuner and get your car tuned.
Another reminder is that please do not think that this car can handle extreme off-road conditions like Jimny/Samurai/Gypsy or Mahindra Thar, or even bigger mid-size SUVs like Fortuner, Endeavour and Pajero. This car needs proper off-road modifications to handle those. In stock, it can do only general rough terrains.
Alternatives: If you need a perfect blend of the qualities stated earlier, this is arguably the best car you can opt for in India, at least in my knowledge. This is because Endeavour, Fortuner and Pajero are costlier, harder to maintain and often inappropriate for city driving and highway cruising while Vitara can handle both easily. At off-roading, the former three SUVs are undoubtedly better in stock but the latter can unleash itself if properly modified (Google Vitara Pikes Peaks and you will get it lol).
As of the previously mentioned three crossover SUVs that are its proper rivals, they are much harder to get and maintain (especially Tucson and Forester).
Highway Performance: 70
Off-Road Performance: 5 0
Ride Quality: 7 0
Parts Quality and Reliability: 6 0
Practicality: 10 0
Features: 4 0
Aesthetics: 4 0
Modification Potential: 4 0
Value For Money Factor: 7 0
Maintenance Expenses: 50
Best Score Yet 60/100 (Škoda Octavia RS)
i rate the maruti suzuki Grand vitara 3 out of 5 stars.