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Suzuki’s top Grand Vitara AllGrip punches above

Suzuki’s all-new Grand Vitara 1.5 Hybrid GLX AllGrip is its first ever petrol-electric mild hybrid. Completely redesigned from the ground up, the focus is on style, technology, and ride comfort. The latest model from the Suzuki and Toyota’s compact vehicle pact, this one is designed and developed by Suzuki.

Built by Toyota in Kirloskar, India, this AWD hybrid get-up is only available as a Suzuki in the in South Africa. Completely new from the ground up, it still salutes its pedigree through its design, style, and ethos. That albeit more sculpted, clamshell bonnet, those imposing wheel arches around stylish machine-polished 17” alloys, and roof rails should ring a bell.

Grand Vitara

AllGrip cuts a new Suzuki styling path

Grand Vitara’s imposing multi-level grille and triple-point DRLs above separate, hidden automatic LED headlamps in a deeply sculpted bumper, however cut a new Suzuki styling path. It’s all emphasised by a sharp chrome shoulder line rising all the way to thin 3D bar LED taillights. They stretch seamlessly across the tailgate atop the deep, sculpted rear bumper.

The GLX spec AllGrip opens up to an ambient lit full leatherette cabin with plush seats said to contribute to a comfy ride, whatever the road. Grand Vitara’s multi-layer dashboard brings a sense of space. Its packed with everything from keyless access and starting, and cruise control to power windows, a panoramic sunroof and automatic climate control.

A colour TFT info display splits the bright and legible analogue dials, but Grand Vitara’s best party trick is its Head Up Display. It displays an impressive selection of info from speed to engine revs and the gear selected, fuel consumption and even vehicle alerts and climate settings. You certainly feel pampered in there.


Fine cabin makes you feel pampered

The leather clad multifunction steering wheel runs the CarPlay and Auto rich high-resolution 9” panoramic centre touch screen infotainment complete with a 360-degree reverse and proximity camera. There’s also Bluetooth, wireless charging, USB-charging ports front and rear, and a powerful audio system with additional speakers and high-end tweeters.

The all-new 76 kW 137 Nm K15C engine has mild, or as Suzuki calls it, Smart Hybrid support. The 1.5-litre petrol lump has a higher 12 to 1 compression ratio. It is also backed by always-on mild-hybrid system to underpin output across a broad band.

Unlike a conventional hybrid, it will not drive the car on electric power only. It does however improve fuel consumption and emissions from 6 to 5.6 litres per hundred 100 km, in spite the of the all-wheel drive system’s additional drag and 125 kg heft. In other words, the integrated motor simply supports the petrol engine under acceleration or load.


Grand Vitara steals AllGrip AWD from Jimny

The hybrid gubbins then reverses to become a generator under braking and overrun. It charges up the standard battery, and an additional 12V lithium-ion hybrid battery. A Start-Stop system further contributes to fuel savings. Grand Vitara AllGrip has a paddle shifter six-speed automatic driving switchable AllGrip all-wheel drive nicked from the Jimny.

Unlike the Jimny, where it’s driver selectable, the Grand Vitara’s AllGrip automatically switches between front and all-wheel drive. Its status depending on the Auto, Sport or Snow driver mode selected. A Lock option will however keep it all-wheel driven. That way, output is evenly distributed between the axles as and when so required .

Grand Vitara rides on Suzuki’s rigid new TECT monocoque platform with MacPherson front and torsion beam rear suspension with electric power steering. 210 mm ground clearance matches the Jimny and it comes with electronic stability control and hill hold assist. Add ABS anti-skid four wheel disc brakes with vented rotors up front, and emergency assist.


Performance seems Adequate

Safety kit stretches to six airbags including side curtains stretching the length of the cabin. There are also standard ISOFIX child seat mounts and rear parking sensors included on the comprehensive Suzuki Grand Vitara’s 1.5 Hybrid GLX AllGrip specification sheet.

As noted, the top Grand Vitara makes you feel spoiled. It punches well above its weight in every aspect. From looks to a cabin that pampers you like a car of double the price. AllGrip Hybrid also lives up to its soft, subtle promise on the road. It rides well, has a positive feel and we’d be comfortable going well off the beaten track with it too.

Performance feels adequate. Even if it proved quite underwhelming in our road tests, which proved surprisingly slow everywhere except in overtaking acceleration. Slower off the mark than its GL sibling in its unloved automatic version, it’s not even much quicker than another cousin, the Eeco van. Which was the slowest vehicle we tested all year.

Grand Vitara

Grand Vitara AllGrip punches above pay grade

It must however be noted that while that was a bit of a surprise, its pace, or rather the lack of it, should not prove too much of a problem. In fact, most Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.5 Hybrid GLX AllGrip owners will never care for that. The car feels just fine on the road. But that pace is about the only aspect we can really criticise this fine little car on.

For the rest, this little SUV delivers well beyond its pay grade, in what we have come to expect as typical Suzuki style. Inexpensive frugal and wieldy, yet it delvers far more than you’d expect at the price.

So much so that you even feel spoiled in this one. So, whatever your budget, take a peek at this Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.5 Hybrid GLX AllGrip before you make your next sport ute choice. You may very well be most surprised! – Michele Lupini

Testing & images: Giordano Lupini

Suzuki Grand Vitara 1.5 Hybrid GLX AllGrip
76 kW 137 Nm 1.5 litre mild hybrid petrol
6-speed automatic AWD
0-60 km/h:        5.74sec
0-100 km/h:       13.33 sec
0-120 km/h:       18.60 sec
400m:             18.9 sec @ 121 km/h
80-120 km/h:      9.78 sec
VMax:             165 km/h
Fuel:             5.6 l/100 km
CO2:              131 g/km
Range:            805 km
Warranty/Service: 5y 200K/4y 60K km
LIST PRICE:       R542K
RATED:            8
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