Not the best: handles well but the ride is firm, and the engines a bit sluggish and noisy
Everything you want: good clear dash, comfortable seats and good visibility.
Plenty of airbags and four-wheel drive, but no stability or traction control
Suzukis don't tend to do well in reliability surveys
Some rivals offer more space, and side-hinged tailgate is awkward
Plenty of goodies as standard or upgrade for the luxuries
The firm suspension stops the body from toppling over through the bends, and good grip and well-weighted steering also impresses. The downside is an unforgiving ride, which never settles. Things are even choppier in the three-door version.
The 1.6 petrol is disappointingly sluggish, and the 2.4 is seriously thirsty, so you're best off going for the 1.9 diesel. Sadly, there's no automatic option with this engine, so you have to suffer a heavy and clunky manual gearchange. All engines come with permanent four-wheel drive to help you out of sticky situations.
There's plenty of space front and back, and you'll find it easy to get comfortable behind the wheel thanks to plenty of seat adjustment and good visibility. The boot is a useful size, but the side-hinged door isn't great for access. Also, although the back seats fold up to give more boot space, they can't be removed, so the Grand Vitara isn't as flexible as it could be.
All models come with alloy wheels, front electric windows, climate control, remote central locking and a CD player with steering wheel-mounted controls. SZ4 trim adds rear privacy glass, a CD changer and upgraded stereo, larger alloy wheels and front foglights.
Japanese cars are usually trouble tree, but Suzukis are the exception. Although the Grand Vitara doesn't sell in large enough number to be included in the JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, other models – such as the Swift and Alto – do, and received only average marks for mechanical reliability.
All versions get front, side and curtain airbags as standard, and stability control is also fitted. The Grand Vitara hasn't been tested under the most recent Euro NCAP crash-testing programme, but under the old-style system it achieved four stars for adult safety. Child protection was disappointing, however, with only three stars awarded.
The Grand Vitara is cheaper than its main rivals, such as the Nissan X-Trail and the Honda CR-V. Unfortunately, it doesn't hold its value well and it pretty pricey to run. Factor in the firm ride and poor refinement, and we'd suggest looking elsewhere.