The new Suzuki Grand Vitara goes green…ish

The brand new Suzuki Grand Vitara has just arrived in South Africa and added to the local line up is a mild hybrid version. The headline might be a tad misleading because I am not sure if one can consider this totally green, not like an electric car or even a full hybrid, but at least Suzuki is now going a shade of green, if you will.

WHAT’S SO GRAND?

You will remember the collab between Suzuki and Toyota, right? The Toyota Urban Cruiser and its sibling, the Suzuki Vitara Brezza? The Toyota Starlet and its sibling the Suzuki Baleno? Well, this is another link in that collab chain, although this is more than a mere badge swap. The Toyota HyRyder is arriving next week and that will essentially be the sibling to this new Gand Vitara. And although this Suzuki model is built in a Toyota factory, it is has been designed, developed and tested by Suzuki.

You will see that it is a completely new car while still retaining the Grand Vitara look and feel. The clamshell bonnet is now more sculpted while the wheel arches are now larger to accommodate large alloy wheels. It still boasts the iconic roof rails as well. But what makes this new model really pop, is the new multi-level grille flanked by three LED daytime running lights on either side. Spin around to the rear, and a thin, rather imposing, LED lightbar stretches the width of the car. It is also fitted with three-dimensional LED lights.

THE GRAND INTERIOR

There is a choice between the GL and GLX models, the latter being the fancy pants one. The vibe is this:

  • Privacy glass on the rear doors
  • Leatherette interior
  • Silver roof rails
  • 9-inch digital display
  • Panoramic parking camera
  • Heads up display
  • Additional USB charging ports for rear passengers
  • Wireless charging tray
  • Ambient lighting
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Additional audio speakers
  • 17-inch machined-polished alloy wheels

DRIVING GREEN

Here’s where it starts to get a bit more interesting. Two engines will be available; firstly Suzuki’s familiar 1.5-litre, four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol pot with its 77 kW and 138 Nm.  Then, for the first time for Suzuki, a 1.5-litre dual-jet motor with mild-hybrid technology will also be available. This pushes out 76 kW and 137 Nm, delivered very low down in the engine range. It also has additional electric boost at pull away and crawl speeds for the most fuel efficient driving.

At the heart of the hybrid system is an integrated starter generator (ISG) that supports the petrol engine under load or hard acceleration. The same ISG-system will harvest kinetic energy when the vehicle is slowed down and push that back into the standard vehicle battery and the additional lithium-ion hybrid battery.

This Hybrid version is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The other models have a five-speed manual or four-speed auto – these are two-wheel drive whereas the Hybrid model also boasts all-wheel drive. It has Suzuki’s AllGrip Select System which, unlike it’s Jimny sibling, will automatically switch its power between the various wheels depending on the road conditions and driver input. You can also manually switch it over if you so choose.

You’ve got your well-known modes such as Auto – where the vehicle decides based on road conditions and driver behaviour, Sport – for the best power distribution and grip during spirited driving, Snow – for more muted power delivery in slippery conditions, such as snow, mud or soft sand; and Lock – to keep the power evenly distrusted between all four wheels if the conditions require it.

In the Grand Vitara Hybrid the average fuel consumption is 5.6 l/ 100km as opposed to 6l/100 km.

PRICING OF THE NEW GRAND VITARA

  • Grand Vitara 1.5 GL 5MT: R339 900
  • Grand Vitara 1.5 GL 4AT: R359 900
  • Grand Vitara 1.5 GLX 5MT: R397 900
  • Grand Vitara 1.5 GLX 4AT: R417 900
  • Grand Vitara 1.5 GLX 6AT Hybrid AllGrip: R529 900

So here are my thoughts on this mild hybrid option. If you look at the Grand Vitara line-up without it, you’ve got an incredible value-for money offering. None of the rivals can beat it on price or spec. But the hybrid might not be worth the extra spend, in my opinion. There isn’t really much to compare it to at this point, we will have to wait to see what Toyota has decided to bring in, but still, I am not sure that this car warrants that amount of money. It is, after all, only a mild hybrid and the difference in fuel consumption is not massive. With that said, I am over the moon that Suzuki has brought this car to South Africa because it is a step in the right direction and it is so nice to see new energy vehicles coming from the more budget-friendly brands and not just the premium ones.

I’m Julz, South African motoring journalist with a passion for cars and a questionable sense of humour. I am not your average motoring journalist, and this is not your average motoring website.

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