Review after 6 months
This site is all about Reviews for the Suzuki Grand Vitara SQ series from 2003. This page represents the 6 month ownership experience. Just remember that there are many different Grand Vitara variants throughout the world.
The engine is still very smooth, at the traffic lights there are not any vibes through the seat or steering wheel.
As the engine is now run in it reveals a traditional twin-cam 16 valve nature, having a distinct power zone and torque zone.
All diffs have a supposed one-way hole in them so the oil can expand contract etc... If your car does not have extended diff breathers, in certain circumstances, the diff may suck water or dirt in hence damaging the diff over time breathers are missing on the RAV4, CRV and iO. Most normal cars don't have them because by the time their diffs are under water their electrics would be water logged anyway.
The Alternator is at about 3/4 height too so a 60cm water crossing should be possible without any problems. I haven't bother locating the air intake just yet.
For longer trips : Top speed is 165kph however it uses significantly more fuel. On one higher speed stage it was at least 15 ltrs. Average speed probably around 130-140kph for this run. Outside temperature was between 40-50 degrees centigrade. Between Alice Springs and Barrow Creek to be exact. However I suspect it wasn't entirely the usual quality of Unleaded...
Regardless of whether the air-conditioner was off or on did not influence fuel consumption. In the cooler temperatures fuel consumption despite speed did not make a noticeable difference. Kept at speeds under 110kph the fuel consumption is as expected, around 9 litres per 100kms.
The gear ratios are pretty wide in High-Range mode (normal). In Low Range I dare say, would do a sports car justice ! However you can only use Low-Range in 4WD mode. I don't think the High-range ratios are perfect for normal roads, being a tad too high. However I think 5th could be higher whilst 1 to 4 could be lower. But they seem perfect on dirt roads and even better in High-range 4WD.
Thankfully the new 2003 interiors exceed expectations. It has a Euro feel with a Lexus touches. Silver and black seats with chrome highlights and woodgrain on certain models. Sit in one and you'll be impressed.
Pre-03 models have a weird switch workings Ie. Push the Up-central locking button to Lock and Down to unlock. It also has Auto-power windows down but you have to hold the switch to with up ? I don't get it.
The rear seat is pretty comfy, it does have an adjustable back rest and enough cushioning. Foot room and space is ample for normal sized people.
Handling - Based on Bridgestone
Maybe its just me but after about 1000k's of dirt roads I have noticed that the dampers have softened. The car does not see saw that's for sure and it is still harder than a normal car. I do not know if the suspension setup is different for different countries.
In the dry overall the handling of the 4WD SGV is lower than a normal car in some ways. If a normal car had the balloon tyres like the SGV and 10cm higher centre of gravity I would expect things would be more equal. However don't notice it cruising around the city. Only pushing it will you discover this.
There is just enough feedback to adjust the steering of the car easily, much better than your normal car. That said when cornering hard or faster, on normal roads the front end does give the impression of floatyness, again due to the low recommended tyres pressures, but using the accelerator provides the extra feel and fun factor. Try it and see what I mean !
The Wet - Based on Bridgestone
Note that I hadn't the the opportunity to sample proper wet handling as I was in NSW during the summer months and Darwin in the start of the dry. Only on my return did I realise this.
Anyway, I looked into what the cause of it
was. First point is the tyres again ! Yes they look like road tyres and go
like road tyres in the dry, but testing the softness of the tyres with my hand revealed
that they are actually quite hard rubber, presumably for good tyre wear. Judging
from the tread wear they can easily last in excess of 30,000-40,000kms or more if properly
maintained. Softer rubber would help in the wet stakes. In all honestly the
standard tyres are at best only very average in most road circumstances. And not
that great in the dirt. Note too that the older the tyre the harder the rubber gets.
Solutions to handling in the wet besides to slow down is to reduce the rear tyre pressures, but not too low cause too low pressures is unsafe too ! (My preference is 28psi) or change tyres to a better model. Remember that under inflation is also dangerous so don't take it to the extreme cause it also reduces grip and water dispersion ability. Mind you pressures that are too high will also have the same impact !
Remember to check out the Update Pages for the tyres I chose to replace them ! Gives prospective to this older review.
The door trim is a one piece design I recall only 2 screws to undo and pull out. The trim itself is made of heavy duty plastic and the plastic lugs that hold the trim are strong. Requires a bit of effort to pull the lugs out. Start from the bottom of the trim and work your way up.
Standard speaker wiring is pretty good unless your planning on having a huge AMP. Beware the short electrical wiring plug for the power windows but it easy enough to unplug.
I expect to add a bull bar and spot lights over the next 6 months.
It may not be as good other bigger vehicles such as the LandCruiser et al. but certainly quieter than the comparable CRV or Mazda versions.
The compromises in design seem directly related to its 4WD nature, ie road handling etc... The compromises can be forgiven cause it can be a fun car to drive most of the time. I genuinely like the car, its perfect for what I chose it for.
Suzuki Grand Vitara
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This site went live during January 2003.