Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara: First Impressions Review
Maruti Suzuki invited us to visit Rohtak’s huge testing and validation facility. We thought it would be a normal facility visit, but it was our first time driving the brand-new Grand Vitara! We got to drive every Grand Vitara drivetrain, the mild hybrid with all-wheel drive, the mild hybrid with two wheels and automatic transmission, and the strong hybrid.
But right off the bat, I have to say that this was a short experience. There was only one lap of the high-speed track, and the highway and city simulation tracks were even shorter. Controlled conditions, roads as smooth as butter, and no cars. This was enough to start giving me a first impression of what it’s like to drive the SUV, but it’s not even close to a full first-drive review in real life.
I’m not going to talk about how it looks, what’s inside, or what kind of equipment it has because we talked about all that in detail in our video from the global unveiling. Instead, I’ll talk about what I thought about it after driving it and being a passenger for a while.
Mild hybrid engine and performance on the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara
The first engine I used was the all-wheel drive (AWD) version. It has a K15C engine, a mild hybrid system, and a 5-speed manual gearbox. This is a familiar engine. The Brezza has the same engine, but it doesn’t have AWD.
It has the same creamy smooth refinement levels, the same nat-asp qualities where it needs to be revved out to achieve the best performance, and the same silence at low rpm. The performance is just about good enough for the job, but it won’t set any new standards in the segment.
It was almost perfect in the Brezza, but this Grand Vitara is about 100kg heavier. It goes fast at low speeds as long as you give it all you’ve got in every gear. After 80 km/h, things seem to move slower, which could make it harder to pass other cars quickly on the highway.
The AWD is only available with a manual transmission (MT), and the MT feels pretty familiar, with smooth shifting and a light clutch action that makes driving fun. This should create the car simpler to drive and use in the city. We didn’t get close enough to the AWD system to test it. This system is mostly FWD; torque is sent to the back when slip is sensed.
Strong hybrid engine and performance on the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara
The first time we used this engine, we found the strong hybrid to be a very interesting way to move things. It has a 1.5-liter engine with three cylinders that runs on the Atkinson cycle. This is paired with a small motor that acts as the starter and the generator and a larger motor that adds torque to the engine. How it drives is a bit of a mixed bag, in my opinion.
The EV mode is very cool if the battery has enough power because you can drive the car only on electric power. An EV mode button also locks you in for as long as possible. In this mode, it makes no noise at all and moves along smoothly. We saw it go up to 50kmph in EV mode when the battery was fully charged and the accelerator was used gently.
So, give the throttle a little bit of a quick push, and you will feel the engine start-up. With an overall system output of 114bhp and torque numbers of 122Nm for the engine and 141Nm for the e-motor, I didn’t expect performance to be fast, but it felt a bit slower than I thought would.
In terms of performance, this is no way comparable to turbo-petrol competitors in the segment, such as the Creta Turbo or the 1.5 TSI-equipped Kushaq and Taigun. We didn’t have any testing gear, but I used a stopwatch to figure out that it would take about 13 seconds to go from 0 to 100 km/h. Remember that there were three people on board.
Ride and handling of the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara
The Grand Vitara is constructed on the same Global C platform as the Brezza, but its wheelbase is longer. And I have to say that I was impressed with how the car handled itself at high speeds. At 120–130 km/h, the car is very stable. It confidently changes lanes, and there is very little rolling.
We drove on a completely flat road, so it’s hard to say how it would handle the long-wave bumps that our highways are known for. However, getting on and off the banking on the high-speed track was easy. The steering was the best I’ve seen on a Maruti Suzuki.
The mild hybrids felt light, but the strong hybrids felt slightly heavier and much nicer. The front of the car responds well to what you do, and the rest follow without trouble. But the steering doesn’t feel like it has any feel or feedback. It seems to center itself well, which is a problem with other Marutis. We went around some long curves at about 70 km/h.
This wasn’t nearly enough to test the limits of grip, but it was enough to tell that it rolled a little and didn’t feel like a problem. Only two-speed bumps allowed us to test the ride quality, which wasn’t enough for me to form an accurate opinion. So I’m not saying anything about how it rides over bumps and bad roads. After the first drives, we’ll know more.
Interior and comfort of the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara
Instead, I’ll talk about my thoughts. And people have very good things to say about the cabin. The quality of the materials feels good, everything fits together well, the seats are comfortable, and it feels like an SUV that matches or beats the competition in this area.
The screen, buttons, and controls on the dashboard feel high quality. The back seat has a lot of space for the knees, and the headroom looked good, too. Even in the back, the seats are comfortable, but the bench is almost flat, which makes it hard to get side support around the thighs.
You will slide all over the place if the driver pushes the car uphill. I also thought the angle of the seat back in the back was a little steep, even though the back could be moved in two ways.