Home / Reviews / First Drive / Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara First Drive Review – Urban SUV Extraordinaire

 

It was a pleasant surprise to sample the all-new Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara on the test track located within the company’s top-secret R&D facility in Rohtak.

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara Review

When we say top-secret, we mean it. Phone cameras were taped off and the phones themselves were locked away before we could proceed inside. Long story short, we drove not one but all three powertrain combinations of the new Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara and came away mighty impressed.

 

The Route:

The route was a mix of high-speed banked oval, high-way speed straight and bends and also city conditions at lower speeds, complete with speed-breakers. With the sun beating down at half to noon, we set off to experience their next big thing.

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara Review

The Car:

The Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara is an all-new mid-size SUV measuring 4,345 millimetres long and running a 2.6-metre wheelbase. It’s large, spacious and feels like an enhanced, much larger and more premium version of the Vitara Brezza; which in many ways it is. The styling is bold and eye-catching, with a huge grille split by a chrome slat. Two LED arrays sit on either side with three distinct units integrated with daytime lights and turn-indicators. The projector headlamps sit below. The sleek tail has a sweeping bar tail-light cluster which looks very modern and is just as eye-catching, with the “Grand VItara” badging in chrome looking sharp. The wheels are 17-inch dual-tone alloys with 215/60 rubber and they look purposeful given that there is an “AllGrip” intelligent all-wheel drive option to choose from as well.

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara Review

The interior is similar for the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara with a neat two-tone black and beige theme and seats upholstered in a neat maroon and black dual-tone scheme of their own. The side windows are large and light in the cabin is aplenty, aided in no small measure by the huge dual-pane sunroof. The steering wheel is new, with smart controls and the screens—part of the SmartPlay Studio Pro+ package—adding their own element of modernism within. The Hybrid model had one of the custom interior packs with quilted and cross-stitched upholstery in rich brown, among other details.

 

The Powertrains:

This bit is interesting because there are three—well, four—to choose from. The first three use the “K15C” 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, mild-hybrid petrol engine that makes 103 hp and 137 Nm plus has a 2.2-kW integrated starter-generator (ISG) for assist and recuperation, available with a five-speed manual and front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, or a six-speed automatic with front-wheel drive. The fourth is the full hybrid or “strong hybrid” with Toyota’s TNGA “M15A-FXE” 1.5-litre, three-cylinder, Atkinson-cycle petrol engine that is joined by a 177.6-volt battery pack and an electric motor to put out a peak combined 116 hp and an estimated 200 Nm of torque.

 

The Drive:

The Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara is a large car and, with a choice of three reasonably powerful yet incredibly frugal powertrains, there is little a seeker of a large, spacious, comfortable and feature-rich vehicle need over and above what it offers. Unlike what one may read around the web, not every car needs to do a 0-100 km/h dash in a certain number of seconds to be worthy of consideration; especially a family SUV. Besides, it’s not that the Grand Vitara won’t do 100 km/h—it can cruise at 120 km/h all day if needed.

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara smartHybrid AllGrip

We sampled the manual-AllGrip all-wheel drive variant first. This one has the “K15C” engine with a five-speed manual and marks the debut of Suzuki’s “AllGrip” technology, also seen on the Jimny and even the Ignis overseas. However, unlike those models, this isn’t a selectable system with lockable diffs and low range ratios, it’s an all-wheel drive system that‘s reactive and computer-controlled. The new Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara shifts surely with a light and smooth clutch action as the five-speed gearbox funnels the torque to the transaxle. The acceleration is sprightly but not particularly brisk; nothing to complain about. The ride quality is excellent and it handled changes of direction with ease and provided a planted feel during manoeuvring. Yet, it managed to feel light on its feet.

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara smartHybrid AT

The six-speed automatic version of the Grand Vitara has the same output but the new six-speed torque-converter automatic fluid coupling sends the power to the front wheels. This makes for a smoother feel and also makes for a more refined and progressive power delivery. Step on it and the transmission shifts down a couple of ratios and gets going in a hurry as revs rise steadily to 4,000 rpm towards the peak torque zone. It’s the most familiar transmission of the lot and definitely one to be considered for those looking for city convenience or those who face traffic often on their commute.

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara Hybrid

This one has two motors: a 92-hp petrol engine and an 80-hp electric motor. The latter does the driving and the former is primarily a generator for the battery pack. Depending on how much pressure one puts on the accelerator pedal, the engine revs rise or fall, or it rolls on in complete silence under gentle pedal input until about 50 km/h. The Grand Vitara Hybrid is a ground-up creation and is the first modern hybrid as the company seeks to electrify future offerings ahead of a new full-electric compact car in 2025. This engine is from Toyota, from the renowned TNGA family. The “M15A-FXE” engine is a hybrid-spec Atkinson-cycle higher compression unit (14.0:1) with a thermal efficiency of over 40 per cent! Yes, it may make 92.4 hp and 122 Nm of torque from its naturally-aspirated three-pot set-up but it’s the motor that does most of the driving and a combined 116 hp is more than sufficient for what is a 1.3-tonne car. I reckon I can extract over 30 km/l out of this thing on familiar highways.

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara Review

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara – Summary

 Maruti Suzuki may have seen their market share drop to 40 per cent or so but, now with presence in the most bustling segment of them all, it looks almost certain that they will reclaim their once established 50 per cent plus share in the Indian automotive scene. The Grand Vitara is an impressive car with focus on the right areas. It will be offered in a number of variants—four petrol-manual front-drive, one petrol-manual AWD, three petrol automatic, and two hybrid variants—and be priced rather competitively, too.

Also read: All-new Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara Unveiled in India

 

About the author: Jim Gorde

 

Deputy Editor at Car India and Bike India.
Believes that learning never stops, and that diesel plug-in hybrids are the only feasible future.
t: @CarIndia/@BikeIndia
IG: @carindia_mag/@bikeindia

 

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