26 May 2005

Suzuki has revealed the first pictures of its new Grand Vitara, part one of a two-pronged attack it is planning on the 4x4 market over the next 12 months. The classy new design is reminiscent of the Toyota RAV4 around the rear and, as with the new Swift, Suzuki has been honing the mechanicals both in the UK and mainland Europe to make sure that the ride and handling are to European tastes.

Arriving in the UK this October, the five-door Grand Vitara pictured here will get the choice of 2.0-litre petrol or 1.9-litre Renault-sourced diesel, while the three-door gets a 1.6 petrol. Both petrol engines are uprated versions of those in the existing Grand Vitara, and all versions get Suzuki’s own newly developed permanent four-wheel-drive system.

The new car is longer, wider and will be more expensive than the current Grand Vitara, and Suzuki is claiming that the 4x4 will continue to offer good off-road ability despite the more on-road-biased unitary construction replacing the previous ladder-frame design. The second part of Suzuki’s 4x4 assault is a smaller crossover called the Aerio that should appear at next March’s Geneva Motor Show. Although Fiat will also launch a version, Suzuki is keen to take credit for the design and development, with Fiat’s main contribution being supply of the 1.9-litre diesel that will join 1.6-, 1.8- and 2.0-litre petrol versions. Sales start next summer.

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