A reader wants help choosing a small SUV. And their shortlist includes: Suzuki Grand Vitara, Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport…

Hi Practical Motoring,

I need help choosing a small SUV and so I’m looking at the Suzuki Grand Vitara, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque. What would be your pick and why. I want to upgrade my current car, 2010 Suzuki Alto, and use the new one for my new business which involves running errands and transporting people.

What’s important is – all of the things that come as standard these days like Bluetooth, cruise control, reversing camera. Also, the ability to go out on basic 4WD trips. I read a thing saying the Suzuki is out-dated on the inside?


Thanks for your email. Those are three very good cars to shortlist as each one actually has some actual offroad ability, unlike many other SUVs. Specifically, they have 200mm+ of ground clearance, effective 4×4 systems that help the car put power to the ground, and the electronics don’t get in the way.

We wouldn’t like to pick which would be best without a specific situation and back-to-back test, but a while back I did compare the Freelander 2 (predecessor of the Discovery Sport) against the Grand Vitara and the Japanese car won quite easily, although both were manuals. I would advise you to buy an automatic only if you choose the British cars as neither have low range (crawler gears); the Grand Vitara has low range so it works fine offroad with its manual transmission. The title image is from my Evoque offroad test – you tend to see them more at coffee shops, but they do work in the rough.

Discovery Sport SD4 car review
Land Rover Discovery Sport

Other vehicles with some offroad capability in this category are the Jeep Renegade and Cherokee Trailhawks, Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Outlander. However, none of these vehicles are as capable as the larger 4x4s, such as the Land Rover Discovery, Pajero Sport, Fortuner and the like.

So your offroad needs are met with any of those three. Your “standard things” are also met; all have Bluetooth, cruise control, reversing camera, electric windows and aircon. However, all is not equal. The British cars not only have more features such as keyless entry, but typically their features are better implemented; reversing camera quality, sound systems, electric parking brakes and the like. The presence of a tick on a specification sheet does not imply it’s equal across cars – an instant coffee is not the same as a barista-crafted latte. And yes, by comparison the Grand Vitara is dated on the inside.

We may as well choose between Sport and Evoque, and that’s a simple case of logic against style. The Sport is cheaper, slightly bigger and offers seven seats in some guises. The only real reason to go for an Evoque is if you are smitten by the styling, and it remains one of the most distinctive vehicles on the market even some years after its release. So given you seem to be of a practical nature, the Sport is what we’ll recommend.

In every way the Sport is a more modern vehicle than the Grand Vitara, as you’d expect from a newer design at nearly twice the price. The Sport offers a nine-speed auto whereas the Grand Vitara makes do with just four, and that hurts its fuel economy. You also get a diesel engine in the Sport, whereas the Grand Vitara diesel is no longer offered – which is a shame, it was a great little engine.

A 2012 Grand Vitara, the latest available photo on Suzuki’s website. This is not a car that is frequently updated.

Safety: the Suzuki is only four-star, but so is the Evoque. The Discovery Sport carries a five star ANCAP rating. But as ever, the more expensive vehicles offer advanced safety features not fully accounted for in the ANCAP ratings; adaptive cruise control, surround camera, blind spot monitoring – although as usual not all these features are available all the way through the range.

Here’s a table of some key specifications:

 Length (mm)Width (mm)EngineWeight (kg)Fuel consGearsSafetyApprox driveaway in Vic
Discovery Sport SE TD445992069110kW / 380Nm17505.39 auto5 star / 2016$70,000
Evoque TD 4 SE43701985110kW / 380Nm16655.19 auto4 star / 2016$62,000
Grand Vitara Sport45001810122kw / 225Nm16059.95 man / 4 auto5 star / 2016$33,000

The Discovery Sport is, arguably, much better overall than the Suzuki; quicker, more fuel efficient, safer and more luxurious with more features. In comparison, the Suzuki will feel spartan, albeit better than your Alto with more features and better design.

Yet the Grand Vitara isn’t entirely outclassed; aside from rough-terrain capability, all Suzukis are decent handlers with a touch of zest about them, and they are reliable, popular cars with solid resale values too. The Grand Vitara is unusual for its class as it has permanent all-wheel-drive with a rear bias, something that improves its handling considerably when compared to the front-drive bias of most other vehicles, the Evoque and Discovery Sport included. That drivetrain is another factor the Sport’s fuel consumption is so low, but you’ll need to keep the car a long, long time to recover the $30k extra spent on the Sport relative to the Grand Vitara.

Both Discovery Sport and Grand Vitara would absolutely do the job you want. Ultimately, the question is whether you feel that the extra and better features of the Discovery Sport are worth the considerable extra outlay, and that depends on whether you can find some must-haves in the spec sheets, or you just like the finer things in life as opposed to a more basic tool of the trade.

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  1. Robert, if the Renegade is big enough for the reader in qn, would the Subaru XV, Suzuki Vitara and Mitsubishi ASX be worth a look as well?

    Have you tested the Outlander PHEV offroad? That’s something I’d love to have the opportunity to do to see how well the electric motors work, particularly on steep hills….

    1. Yes, the XV might work. Vitara – they are already considering the Grand, so I dropped the Vitara. ASX doesn’t have the offroad capability. I haven’t driven a PHEV at all and would love to take one offroad for that reason. The PHEV is electric-drive only to the rear.

      1. Hi Robert. This is actually incorrect. I have an Outlander PHEV and can assure you it can drive all four wheels with its front and rear electric motors. The engine can also drive the front wheels if it chooses.

  2. Discovery Sport more than twice the price of Grand Vitara…If creature comforts are THAT important then ok…. but the Grand Vitara is a saving of $34000 (plus) ….and just as capable, if not as plush or powerful…in fact at current prices you can buy 2 Grand Vitara’s for the price of 1 Discovery (not counting options …and with the price of Land Rover ‘options’ you might even manage 3 Grand Vitara’s)….of course, not that you would….but $34000 is a BIG difference in price, and the Suzuki has no less capability. ….I don’t understand why Suzuki went backwards in features from the previous Grand Vitara V6 Prestige, which was well featured, to the current model, which misses out on those same features….I don’t understand a deliberate backwards reduction in features like that.

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