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Grand Vitara perked up, price lowered

The Suzuki Grand Vitara's traditional turf has been all but overrun by softroaders that don't offer the same off-road ability as this low-range-equipped 4x4.

Which means that the little Japanese off-roader has a nice little niche for itself. Counting against it, however, was its high price (starting at R349 900), long-in-the-tooth styling and the lack of a diesel engine option.

That last bugbear has yet to be solved, but the latest Grand Vitara upgrade does address the former two issues, with perked up styling and a re-jigged line-up that now starts just below the R300 000 mark.

There's nothing radical about the facelift, but keen observers will notice the new grille, more aggressive front air intake and redesigned alloy wheels. Inside you'll find a new black fabric design on the seats and door panel inserts.

RESHUFFLED RANGE

The new base model is called 'Dune' and it's not short of basic amenities thanks to the fitment of 17-inch alloy wheels (including full-sized spare), automatic climate control, CD/MP3 audio system, electric windows, remote central locking as well as front, side and curtain-level airbags.

The appropriately-name 'Summit' of the range sports 18-inch alloys, keyless entry and start, cruise control, leather upholstery, auto-sensing HID headlights and a sunroof.

There's only one engine option, this being the familiar 2.4-litre normally aspirated petrol engine that's credited with 122kW at 6000rpm and 225Nm at 5000rpm. You do get to choose between two old-fashioned gearboxes, however, with both trim levels offering either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic shifter.

As for fuel consumption, Suzuki claims a combined figure of 8.9 l/100km for the manual and 9.9 l/100km in the case of the auto.

It's when the roads get really punishing that the Grand Vitara comes into its own, its basic resume including a low-range transfer case (with electronic shifting between modes), 200mm ground clearance, short overhangs and long-travel, fully independent front and rear suspension.

As mentioned, the Grand Vitara now offers a wider range and lower staring price, and all models come with a six-year/90 000km service plan.

THE BILL

2.4 Dune manual - R298 900

2.4 Dune auto - R313 900

2.4 Summit manual - R358 900

2.4 Summit auto - R373 900

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