Please, don’t kill the last little offroader! – UPDATED
Suzuki’s Grand Vitara is sought after and there’s a good reason why.
THE WORLD IS FULL OF plastic-fantastic softroaders. Mazdas, Hondas, even many Jeeps and Land Rovers these days. These vehicles lack clearance, low range, and in place of lockable centre differentials have on-demand all-wheel-drive systems that don’t distribute torque effectively and overheat after a bit of use, or have CVTs that can’t handle low-speed offroading.
The exceptions to the rule are few and far between. There’s the Outlander, Discovery Sport and Evoque, Jeep Renegade Trailhawk and the Subarus aren’t too bad either. But there’s one vehicle that stands out in the pack and it’s Suzuki’s Grand Vitara, which has a small but very loyal following because it is a true little offroader. This is because it has:
- Low Range – we’re not quite at the stage where low range has been made redundant. That’s coming, but not yet.
- Good clearance – approach, departure and rampover, plus nothing under body to snag.
- A lockable centre differential – because that’s still more effective, and safe than any of the clever computer-controlled centre clutches.
- Effective traction control – helped by the lockable centre diff, the Grand Vitara really does have good traction control.
- Door-mounted spare – so it’s full-size, easy to access and doesn’t take up interior room.
- Suzuki toughness – many decades of real offroad engineering mean it’s reliable.
This makes it a massively more capable vehicle than its peers, and that is why you see them decked out with offroad gear, towed by motorhomes and generally sought after. A true all-wheel-drive system with a driver-friendly rear torque bias helps too, unlike the typical on-demand drivetrains that bias torque to the front wheels. And because of this good offroad engineering there are accessories such as suspension lifts, snorkels, bullbars and the like which further adds to the vehicle’s appeal.
Simply, there’s nothing else like the Grand Vitara in its size bracket. And that makes it an endangered species.
I am very worried that Suzuki will attempt to join the plastic-fantastic brigade with the next Grand. The world does not need another front-biased, low-clearance pseudo-offroader, particularly not one wearing a Suzuki badge which is meant to symbolise all that is good and great for small offroaders.
Instead, I hope Suzuki simply update the Grand, leaving intact all that makes it good offroad, and therefore preserve their near-lock on this small but important segment. And I hope that segment is sufficiently profitable for them to do so, because if not, we the offroad community will be the losers.
We asked Andrew Doyle, the Suzuki Australia managing director about future plans for the Grand Vitara and Jimny. This is what he said:
“At this point, I cannot confirm any future model plans for those vehicles. At present, both are still on sale in Australia.
What I can confirm though is Suzuki has a rich 4×4 heritage and this would always be retained in any Jimny.”
Read into that what you will….sounds to me like the Jimny will be the real-deal offroader and Suzuki don’t see a need for similar capability in the Grand Vitara. But I really, really hope that I’m wrong.
Who else wants a real-deal small offroader, or are you happy enough with the rest of the market?