Launch report: Suzuki Grand Vitara (GL and GLX)

The Grand Vitara badge is back

The Grand Vitara name is back! During the last few years, we’ve heard and seen the Vitara and Vitara Brezza name floating around. It has been one of the reasons for the Japanese manufacturer being so successful in Southern Africa. The Grand Vitara badge now returns, after almost 20 years, to the southern part of the continent, set to not only advance Suzuki’s luxury offerings, but also to bring new and exciting mechanical technologies.

Designed by Suzuki, and bult by Toyota at their Kirloskar factory in India, this new Grand Vitara has been in the headlines for quite some time, thanks to its practicality and new hybrid technologies.

Tell me more about the engine

Already proven to be highly reliable and efficient, the K15B and brand-new K15C petrol engines will be sold with the Grand Vitara. On its own, the 1.5-litre (K15B) four cylinder engine produces 77kW (at 6 000rpm) and 138Nm (at 4 400 rpm). Currently, this K15B engines sells in more than 4 400 Suzuki units every month, including the Ertiga, Baleno, Ciaz and popular Jimny. As always, the K15B engine models will be sold with either a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual gearbox.

The new K15C petrol engine will come in the form of a mild hybrid 12-Volt unit, aimed at improving fuel efficiency, rather than power delivery. With a power output of 76kW (at 6 000 rpm) and 137Nm (at 4 400 rpm), the electrical component of the engine will continuously work with the petrol engine to deliver greater power outputs. This also means that the torque curve will be spread more equally, resulting in much lower fuel consumption figures. This is also largely thanks to the 6-speed automatic gearbox which is paired with the hybrid model. It certainly allows for a less rev-happy drive.

Suzuki claims an average consumption of 5.6 litres per 100km, which is quite surprising, considering the added weight of the four-wheel drive system to the GLX Automatic Hybrid model. What further adds to this efficiency will be regenerative braking to charge the battery, an automatic stop / start functionality, and electric motor assist.

What is it like to drive?

The Grand Vitara came to life in 1998 as the perfect solution for families with an adventurous streak. On the launch day of the new Grand Vitara, Suzuki sent us off onto a mixture of highways, forested gravel roads (both rocky and fast-flowing), and even a 4×4 excursion up a mountain to test the true capabilities of this car.

Whilst the latter surface would generally not be taken on by most Grand Vitara owners, we are happy to say that a 4×4 trip up a mountain is possible, even with four fully grown adults in the car.

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This is largely due to the ALL-Grip all-wheel drive system in the Grand Vitara, which sends power to the wheels most requiring it during different road surface conditions. The driver can, however, also manually switch between four different requirements:

AutoIn this mode, the system will prioritise 2-wheel (front-wheel) drive to save fuel. However, when the system detects wheel slip during gravel, or rainy weathered driving, it will automatically switch over to 4-wheel drive.
SportIn this mode, the engine will respond livelier as well as prioritise rear-wheel driving.
Snow / mudIn this function, the system will be switched to 4WD to provide more traction and stability.
LockThis mode is for 4×4 “crawling”, and to spread the power more equally to allow for more traction. The system also makes use of ESP to brake or lock when the wheels might be slipping, or sends the power to the wheels most requiring it at any given point.

Upon our arrival at the 4×4 track, a deluge of rain broke out, potentially hindering us from traversing the course. Yet, with either the “Snow/mud” or “lock” function activated, and with a ground clearance similar to the 4th generation Jimny (210mm), the Grand Vitara crawled up the misty mountain.

Even in “Auto” mode, the Grand Vitara did well to detect wheel slip on the muddy gravel roads of Outeniqua.

Safety and comfort

Being the flagship model in the current Suzuki SA stable, the Grand Vitara brings along superior refinement and quality. With five models in the line-up, prices will range from a very competitive R339 900 to R529 900. Different to other Suzuki models, the Grand Vitara will, however, only be sold as GL or GLX iterations.

From the outside, the Grand Vitara looks very different than its predecessors, but incorporates the aggressive yet rounded design characteristics of the 2015 Vitara. The Grand Vitara houses 3-point signature LED head- and taillights, as well as daytime running lights, whilst also incorporating a trapezoidal front grille.

View some of our launch photos here

Inside, the Grand Vitara feels well-put together, with leather upholstery (and silver stitching) in the GLX models. The GLX models will also feature ambient and footwell lights, as well as a panoramic 1 000mm long sunroof, which is able to open as much as 560mm. Whilst sitting at the back during our 4×4 excursion, this greatly helped to create a feeling of space and bring light into the car.

In terms of technology, all models will feature automatic climate control as well as a rear aircon vent. For infotainment, the GL models will feauture a 7-inch touchscreen, with Android Audo and Apple CarPlay (wireless), as well as voice recognition, USB port, and Bluetooth, outside top view cameras, and six airbags. The GLX models will be equipped with a 9-inch HD infotainment screen, whilst also being fitted with a Qi wireless charger, a rear USB port (in the second row), 360-degree view cameras, and a heads-up display.

The car also proves to be highly practical. With four occupants and our luggage loaded, one could not help to notice the abundance of space available in the car. With ample head- and leg-room in the second row for even fully-grown adults, the rear luggage compartment can also hold 310L. With the rear seats able to fold flat, the Grand Vitara can even hold much more (We’ll ask our cycling enthusiasts on our Galimoto Media team to test this during our formal test).


Owners will be able to choose between seven different panel colours, or three two-tone colours. The single tone colours will include Carve Black Pearl, Midnight Black Pearl, Grandeur Grey Pearl Metallic, Opulent Red Pearl Metallic, Splendid Silver Pearl Metallic, Celestial Blue Pearl Metallic, or Arctic White Pearl. The two-tone colours will feature a Black Midnight Pearl roof, with either a Splendid Silver Pearl Metallic, Arctic White Pearl, or Oputent Red Pearl Metallic colour at the bottom.

The Grand Vitara 1.5 Manual or Automatic GL will be sold with 17-inch alloys, LED head- and daytime-running lights, keyless entry with stop/start functionality, a 7” touchscreen infotainment system with a reverse camera, wireless carplay, automatic climate control, hill hold control, ABS, EBD, BAS and ESP, as well as roof rails.

The Grand Vitara 1.5 Manual or Automatic GLX will be sold with all the features of the GL, plus diamond cut 17-inch alloy rims, a 9” infotainment system, 360-degree view camera, heads up display, wireless phone charging, a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, ambient interior lighting, and silver roof rails.

The Grand Vitara 1.5 Automatic GLX Hybrid Allgrip model will be sold with all the GL and GLX features, plus a SHVS mild hybrid system, an automated engine stop/start system, all-wheel drive, hill descent control, and a 6-speed automatic gearbox with flappy paddles.


It has been a long wait to see the Grand Vitara badge once again, and while the 2015 Vitara was a well-designed SUV, the Grand Vitara provides a bit more premium quality. The Grand Vitara features everything you need in a family-sized SUV, whilst also being comfortable and practical. The steering is light, while the manual gearbox is seamless. The 4-speed automatic gearbox in the normal GL and GLX can hunt for more gears at higher speeds, so the 5-speed manual and 6-speed Hybrid models seem to fare very well.

The Grand Vitara proves to be well-suited to all surfaces and while it might not tackle the rough stuff as often as, say, a Jimny, it is nice to know that it has the capabilities.

The Grand Vitara is also very well priced, entering the market as the most affordable 2-wheel-drive small SUV in this market segment. Most of the competitors are priced above R400 000, whereas the 2-wheel Grand Vitaras are well-priced below this figure, with only the GLX auto slightly above this.

The GL AWD Hybrid also enters the market as the most affordable all-wheel drive hybrid model on the market.

There is certainly a reason for the Grand Vitara having sold over 3.85 million units since its inception; with this being a very comfortable, practical, and cost effective SUV for growing families.


All Grand Vitara models will be sold with a 6-year / 90 000km service plan, and a 5-year / 200 000km promotional warranty.

Here is the pricelist:

  • Suzuki Grand Vitara GL Manual: R339 900
  • Suzuki Grand Vitara GL Automatic: R359 900
  • Suzuki Grand Vitara GLX Manual: R397 900
  • Suzuki Grand Vitara GLX Automatic: R417 900
  • Suzuki Grand Vitara GLX Automatic Hybrid AllGrip: R529 900

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