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New Suzuki Grand Vitara
Crossover for road comfort...
Built-in ladder frame for off-road

2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara (US specs) - front side view

2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara (US specs) - instrument panel view

2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara (US specs) - dials

2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara (US specs) - tail light

2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara (US specs).

9th September 2005.

Since everybody is following the crossover unibody trend with their new SUVs, why wouldn't Suzuki finally go for it with the all-new generation of its famous 5-seater Grand Vitara?

Why not, especially that the new Grand Vitara is derived, with significant changes, from General Motors' Theta platform (GM owns 20 percent of the Japanese brand), a platform initially developed with Suzuki, before being adopted in the Saturn Vue (since 2002), the Chevrolet Equinox (since last year), the Pontiac Torrent (from MY 2006), besides a few other models to follow, including the next generation Suzuki XL7 and even at Cadillac (under the SRX).

However, the Theta platform was not copy-pasted. The Grand Vitara represents a smaller version, with a significantly shorter wheelbase (2.64 meters for the 5-doors version, and 2.44 meters for the 3-doors one, up by 16 and 24 mm from the previous generation) than that of the Equinox, Torrent (2.857m) and the Vue (2.707).

In body length, the Grand Vitara (4.47 and 4.00 meters, up from 4.125 and 3.905m) is well shorter than the Equinox, Torrent (4.795 m) and Vue (4.605 m).

However, in width terms, the new Grand Vitara (1.810 m, up from 1.70 and 1.78 m) is practically the same as in its "cousins" (1.814 m in Equinox and Torrent, 1.817 m in the Vue).

On the other hand, the new Grand Vitara is significantly longer and wider than the previous generation, with increased interior space, extra headroom and more front and rear legroom. It offers 24.4 cubic feet (690 litres, or 0.69 cubic meter) of storage space (5-doors) with the seats up and 68.9 cubic feet (1.951 cubic meter) of storage space when the 60/40 split seatbacks are folded forward (50/50 split in the 3-doors version. see dimensions table).

Marketing-wise, the Grand Vitara will enter this fall the showrooms of both, the "Old Continent" and the "New World", after its launch in Japan last May under the Escudo name.

Interestingly, it is not in the US, the world biggest market for SUV sales that the Japanese brand expects to sell most of its Grand Vitaras, but rather in Europe, where a Renault-sourced Diesel engine will be offered (Suzuki used a PSA, Peugeot/Citroen Diesel engine with the previous generation) to help it achieve the targeted 60,000 units per year (three quarter of them expected to be Diesel powered), compared to some 40,000 units/ year in North America, and some 25,000/ year between Japan (15,000) and the rest of the world.

Click to open the US specs page

The Grand Vitara will be offered in Europe in both 3- and 5-doors versions, with other engines (petrol, 1.6 and 2.0 liters), while the US market gets the 5-doors version with a 2.7-liter V6 petrol engine.

Body - Compared to its previous generation, the Grand Vitara comes with a structural difference, adopting a new lightweight, rigid monocoque body (unibody, unitary construction, rather than the traditional body-on-frame structure), but with a built-in ladder frame to give additional off-road competence.

The crossover advantages of lighter weight, lower gravity center and reduced height don’t necessarily penalise headroom. The ‘built-in ladder frame’ construction when compared with the body on frame design of the previous model permits lower floor heights, in turn lowering the centre of gravity despite the high ground clearance of 200mm.

With shorter front overhang on both 3- and 5-doors versions, the wheels are effectively ‘pushed’ closer to the corners, enhancing interior packaging, with more of the vehicle’s overall length devoted to the cabin.

Despite the increased length, the Grand Vitara gets a full turning diameter of 10.2 meter for the 3-door body, and 11.0 m for the 5-door one.

Short overhangs also return good approach, departure and ramp angles at 29, 36 and 20° (3-doors version) and 29, 27 and 19° (5-door).

In the event of a collision with a pedestrian, the hood is designed to absorb some of the impact and help protect against serious head injuries.  The front end and the bumper use energy-absorbing materials to help reduce the possibility of serious leg injuries.

Click to open the European (Suzuki GB) specs

In the UK, all models are equipped with roof rails and a spoiler along the upper edge of the tailgate. The latter is side-hinged and opens to a full 90 degrees, but the gas strut stops at an intermediate point of about 65 degrees, preventing the tailgate – with its protruding spare wheel – from swinging into the path of passing traffic. When the tailgate is in the intermediate position, the right hand tail-light remains unobscured when lit at night.

Drive - The other main change comes in the drive system, which gets two choices of full-time four-wheel-drive (a 2WD version is available in the US in the basic version).

The new full-time four-wheel-drive system will be available with two options: a standard full-time single-mode four-wheel-drive system, and an optional full-time four-mode four-wheel-drive system.

The 3-door model (Europe) features the first permanent four-wheel drive system, without a centre differential lock as it is nearer to a ‘soft-roader’, while 5-door models offer the full-time four-mode four-wheel-drive system, with differential lock and low range that signal their SUV credentials.

The full-time four-mode four-wheel-drive system features the following modes, simply selected via the rotary switch on the fascia.

2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara (European specs) - 5-doors version

2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara (European specs) - 3-doors version

2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara (European specs) - 5-doors version, back view

2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara (European specs) - 3-doors version

2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara (European specs) - 3-doors version, back view

2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara (European specs) - seats, side view

New Suzuki Grand Vitara (GB / European specs).

4H: This high-range 4x4 mode with free centre diff is ideal for most conditions, offering the smooth, quiet performance and neutral cornering of conventional 4x2s. Front and
rear torque is split 47:53, improving on-road response while delivering excellent off-road traction. The torque-sensing diff ensures immediate throttle response.

4H Lock:  In this high-range 4x4 mode, a clutch locks the centre differential to eliminate any speed difference between the front and rear wheels, providing better traction through deep snow or mud.

4L: Low range four-wheel drive (again with a locked centre differential) enables the Grand Vitara to cope with very difficult situations; the transfer gear ratio is about twice that of the 4H Lock mode at 1.970, offering excellent low-end traction.

N: Finally, neutral mode allows the vehicle to be towed, if it should ever be necessary; with the centre differential free there is less potential driveline wear and tear.

Suspension - The unibody structure is teamed with all-round independent suspension – McPherson struts in front and a new multi-link design in the rear, front ventilated disc brakes with rear drum brakes and power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering.

Engines - In the US market, the Grand Vitara will get a standard 2.7-liter, six-cylinder, 24-valve DOHC engine delivering 185 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. (249 Nm) of torque, allowing a tow rating of 3,000 pounds (1360 kg).

The dual overhead camshafts are driven by a self-adjusting, self-lubricating timing chain (not a timing belt) that requires no maintenance in normal service.  Also, a specially tuned variable induction system (VIS) improves throttle response and increases overall engine efficiency.  As part of the overall refinement, the engine now sits on hydraulic engine mounts to further reduce vibration and noise.

The standard transmission is five-speed manual, with an optionally available electronically controlled five-speed automatic (4-speed automatic in Europe).

In Europe (UK specs), all three engines feature drive-by-wire throttle management and advanced induction control systems for better fuel economy. The new 106PS 1.6-litre engine also has variable valve timing and delivers 32.5 mpg (8.69 litres per 100 km) on the combined cycle.

The larger 140PS 2.0-litre petrol engine fuel consumption is 31.0 mpg (9.11 litres per 100 km) for the manual model, while the turbocharged, intercooled  Renault diesel engine returns 36.7 mpg (7.70 litres per 100 km) on the combined cycle, with a torque curve peaking at 221lb ft (299 Nm. See specs tables).

All models feature as standard (may vary depending on markets) climate control air conditioning, front electric windows (plus rear on 5-door models), an integrated radio/CD player, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, tinted glass, a tilt adjustable steering column, remote central locking, reclining rear seats, folding exterior door mirrors, driver and front passenger front and side airbags, front and rear curtain airbags and an immobiliser.

Standard safety features include ESP (uses a variety of electronic sensors to measure speed, steering wheel angle and yaw. It corrects unintended oversteer or understeer by applying individual brakes and reducing engine torque to help the driver maintain the proper cornering line.), ABS with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), six airbags (driver and front passenger seat-mounted side-impact airbags, dual-stage front airbag, weight-sensing front passenger airbag and front and rear side-curtain airbags), a three-point seat belt for each of the 3 rear passenger seats.

Other US standard equipment include air conditioning with automatic climate control and micron air-filtration system, cruise control, digital clock with outside temperature and fuel consumption indicators and adjustable center armrest with internal storage, a sound system with AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA unit (XM Satellite Radio-ready) and steering-wheel-mounted controls.  A six-disc, in-dash CD changer with seven speakers is available as an option, including two tweeters and a subwoofer.

Prices start in the US from $18,999 (with 2WD), and in the UK, from £12,699 for the 3-doors 1.6 litre version with 5-speed manual gearbox, and from £15,499 for the 5-doors 2.0 litre with the manual gearbox (£16,499 with the 4-speed automatic).

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