Maruti Suzuki India is getting ready to launch their flagship SUV – It will take on the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos
For the longest time, Maruti Suzuki has been associated with sensible, easy on the pocket products in India. However, Maruti has been wanting to change the stereotypical image. Hence, they did bring in the NEXA line-up, a few years ago. The first product from NEXA was the S-Cross, which was Maruti’s offering for the mid sized SUV segment. S-Cross, due to various reasons, couldn’t deliver the kind of numbers usual Maruti products are associated with.
Increasing competition from Korean and German competitors meant that Maruti was loosing battle regularly, in an extremely critical, ever-growing mid sized compact SUV segment. To reclaim lost ground and bring in the oomph factor to NEXA showrooms, Maruti has now brought in 2022 Grand Vitara.
Maruti Grand Vitara SUV Review
Maruti claims that Grand Vitara isn’t just one vehicle. It in fact is a breed of SUVs. It says so as it is offering plethora of options, in terms of powertrain and trim combinations. To ease the discussion, broadly, there are 4 different variants of Grand Vitara which are on offer.
At the premier end of pricing, customers will be getting the strong hybrid models, which come along with an e-CVT. In the middle, customers will have an option to choose a mild hybrid model with an automatic 6-speed gearbox or trade off the 6-speed AT with AWD capability.
AWD equipped models use Suzuki’s All Grip technology but do come with only with a Manual Transmission, possibly to limit costs. The most affordable models use mild hybrid technology and a traditional manual transmission. During the media drive organized by Maruti, we managed to experience all 4 powertrain combinations.
Looks are subjective however, we are confident that most perspective customers will find Grand Vitara’s look well balanced. The SUV looks modern, urban and carries a masculine character. It doesn’t carry any major polarizing element(s), something which we usually find on its Korean counterparts. 17-inch wheels look suitably sized, and dual tone precision cut alloys add to its glam factor. Sufficient use of chrome and LED elements (DRLs, Projector Headlamps and Tail-lamps) make the SUV look premium.
Maruti Grand Vitara SUV Review – Interiors
Grand Vitara features the most premium interiors we have ever seen in a Maruti in recent years. The OEM has loaded the product with soft touch materials or faux-soft-touch materials which make you feel as if you are in a posh space.
Smart Hybrid trims get a dual tone combination of Black and Bordeaux (Red Wine shade) while Strong Hybrid trims get all Black interiors. We found the Black and Bordeaux combination more appealing, as it added a feeling of sophistication in the cabin.
Controls for features are well split across the infotainment and physical buttons. While the floating touchscreen infotainment unit leads most of the in-cabin functionalities, Maruti has thankfully offered manual controls for air conditioning, drive mode selector (Strong Hybrid/All Grip Variants) and cooled front seats.
Mild Hybrid trims get a 4.2 inch TFT instrument cluster along with physical dials while Strong Hybrid trims get an all digital 7-inch TFT instrument cluster. Maruti has provided sufficient cubby holes across the cabin, which makes the SUV practical.
Interestingly, Maruti has offered a sizeable panoramic sunroof, but hasn’t provided a thick-enough interior covering for the same. We found the interior cover too thin as it led to considerable heat dissipation inside the cabin. This could be a cause of concern for users during hot sunny afternoons. While Maruti has added a long list of features for the Grand Vitara, some of them are reserved only on the Smart Hybrid variants.
That means, in case a customer wants to opt in for features like ventilated front seats, heads-up display unit (we found it to be of limited use though) or wireless charging, he/she will be compelled to choose the strong hybrid trims only. None of the above mentioned features are available on top-end trims of mild hybrid variants.
We found the sound system and its tuning to be a little sub-par, considering the segment and competition. Lack of electrically adjustable front seat(s) was also a bit of a shocker. Talking about the seating space, the SUV has a capacity to seat 5 regular sized Indian adults. Front seats are well contoured and provide good support from all directions.
Rear seats are also well designed, however score low on thigh support. Long distance rides could be a concern, however for short journeys, rear seats broadly do their job. Middle passenger on the rear seat will also come across a slight bump on the floor, which will limit available foot space. Ingress and Egress is easy, across all seats.
Maruti is offering 4 different powertrain combinations on the Grand Vitara. These are divided across a Smart Hybrid powertrain, which gets optional AT and AWD add-ons. Strong Hybrid powertrain comes solely with a 2WD eCVT configuration.
Smart Hybrid variants depend on a 1,462 cc petrol motor which is capable of dishing out 103 PS and 136.8 Nm of torque. Transmission options on this engine include a 5-speed MT and a 6-speed AT. Customers opting in for the All Grip All Wheel Drive functionality get a 5-speed MT as standard with this engine. Strong Hybrid setup constitutes of a 1,490 cc petrol motor and a 177.6 V lithium ion battery. Combined power output of the system is rated at 115.5 PS.
The Smart Hybrid powertrain is good for regular city commutes but lacks the punch which sometimes one expects from an SUV. Hill climbs and quick high-way overtakes would be a little difficult, however for regular drives, the engine does its job. 5-speed MT gearbox is well designed and has clear throws.
However, we found the 6-speed AT the better transmission option, majorly due to the convenience which an AT provides. AT trims also get paddle shifters, which help the driver to get better control over the vehicle. One component which partially downgraded the AT experience was the drive selector mechanism, which was unusually hard and difficult to get adjusted to.
The same Smart Hybrid powertrain is also offered with an AWD option. It is for the first time that Maruti is bringing in Suzuki’s All Grip technology to India. The AWD capability of the Grand Vitara was fairly astonishing, as we didn’t expect it to pass through articulations/steep climbs as comfortably as it did. However, lack of an AT option with the AWD could be a deal breaker for some perspective buyers.
The Strong Hybrid powertrain claims to offer a fuel efficiency of 27.97 km to a litre, which is undoubtedly the best in its segment. This is majorly supported by the battery, which at times leads the entire power delivery, thus limiting the engine operation requirement all together. While the system is easy to use, we really didn’t like the experience with the e-CVT.
Chances are, if you want a spirited drive, even you might not be able to appreciate the powertrain. It is probably best suited for sedate drives. It will be able to showcase its prowess especially in busy bumper to bumper traffic conditions, where its EV only mode will bring out the best of the powertrain.
Driving Dynamics, NVH & Safety
Grand Vitara does an above average job in Driving Dynamics department. It is a comfortable ride in regular Indian city roads which come with a fair bit of rough stretches. It absorbs regular sized pot-holes and bumps easily.
However, when it encounters larger speed bumps or rumble strips, it does partially get tossed around. What further degrades the experience is the steering feedback, which is poor. While the steering is light at lower speeds, it doesn’t weigh up considerably with increase in speed. Steering returnability isn’t good either. NVH is broadly well contained, however, engine’s grunt, especially in the Strong Hybrid variants creeps into the cabin regularly.
On the safety front, Maruti has equipped Grand Vitara with 6 airbags, 360 view camera (which is extremely useful), ESP, TPMS, Hill Hold Assist, ABS with EBD, Hill Descent Control (Available on All-Grip Variant only) and much more. NCAP test ratings aren’t available as of now as the vehicle hasn’t been tested yet.
Grand Vitara is a well calculated attempt from Maruti Suzuki to break into the INR 15L+ segment. It has had 2 not so successful launches in the past, namely Kizashi and original Grand Vitara (full sized SUV). However, despite all its shortcomings, Grand Vitara will be able to bring in considerable sales for Maruti and help it to establish in the ever-growing mid-sized SUV segment. With Grand Vitara’s success, Maruti would further want to cement its NEXA range as a mass-premium offering, which it could later leverage for bringing in products of higher segments.
If you were to ask our choice, out of the 4 options, it would be the Smart Hybrid AT model. However, personal preferences will vary from usage and requirements of the end-user. Maruti is expected to reveal prices soon, followed by start of deliveries.
Disclaimer – For the media test drive, Maruti Suzuki India took care of the travel and stay.