Over the last few years, Maruti Suzuki has been steadily upping the game with a slew of well-rounded products that have helped strengthen its position as India’s most trusted homegrown automotive brand. So much so, that they now have products slotted in almost every segment in the sub INR 20.0 lac bracket. However, what was missing was a true flagship model in the portfolio. One that could match up to some of the fancier offerings from competitors. Until now.
With the recent introduction of the 2022 Grand Vitara, things have taken a dramatic leap. The company now promises to provide customers with a premium urban SUV experience that is as good as it gets. And with the addition of a 4WD version, Maruti Suzuki is looking to wrestle it out in the mud, and make inroads into a segment that has several other worthy contenders with strong foundations and a rich legacy.
So does this one have the potential to break new grounds? To experience things first hand and find out if it delivers on its promise, we decided to check out the 2022 Grand Vitara over a week.
In terms of aesthetics, Maruti Suzuki has taken a fresh approach to the Grand Vitara’s styling. It doesn’t share much of its design DNA with other offerings from the Maruti Suzuki/ NEXA stable, and that has worked out for the best. Up front, the headlamps have a split design, and the high-placed LED DRLs give the Grand Vitara a menacing front end. There’s also plenty of chrome at the front, especially on the two-part front grille, which combined with the square and tall bonnet exudes a lot of character. The overall design is extremely well proportioned, especially when viewed from the side, and although the 17″ wheels look a tad too small for the squared off wheel arches, the roof rails do add to the SUV styling. The dual tone paint on the higher priced variants combined with the tapering roofline, makes the Grand Vitara look sleeker in its profile. At the back, the attention grabbing design feature has to be the elongated light bar which joins the slim tail lamps at either end, giving the vehicle a rear that’s classy, and reminiscent of much more expensive SUVs in the market. Overall, the Grand Vitara is without a doubt one of the best looking cars to come out of the Maruti Suzuki/ NEXA stable. The proportions are immaculate and the road presence is distinct. The styling definitely puts it on top of the heap in its segment.
The stellar design sensibilities flow into the interior as well, with the Grand Vitara getting an immensely good looking, comfortable and feature rich cabin. The layered design of the dashboard is dominated by the infotainment screen on top, and the chunky metal inserts framing the AC controls are a nice touch as well. Some of the buttons and switches are borrowed from other models, but on the whole, the cabin looks fresh and unique. It’s super comfortable to slip in, and not the least intimidating.
Build quality is significantly improved as well, and we especially liked the padded dashboard finished in leather. Apart from a few hard plastics here and there, the Grand Vitara’s interior might just make you forget that you’re sitting in a Maruti. The dual tone black and wine coloured interiors on our test vehicle also made the cabin feel rather plush, although the top of the line Intelligent Hybrid variants come with an all-black interior with champagne gold accents. The piece de resistance however, is the huge panoramic sunroof that the top end variants get. It floods the cabin with sunlight, making it airy and feel even more spacious than it actually is. Our test car, which was the top of the line Alpha variant of the Smart Hybrid 2WD model, also came equipped with a host of comfort and entertainment features including SmartPlay Pro+ infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an Arkamys sound system with two tweeters, a 360 degree camera with front and rear parking sensors, climate control, auto headlamps and rain sensing wipers, and keyless entry with push (start/ stop) button. However, the Grand Vitara offers certain premium features – such as ventilated front seats, wireless charging, heads-up display and digital instrument display – only on the Intelligent Electric Hybrid variants. Even the top specced Smart Hybrid variant doesn’t get them. Which is surprising, considering that the less fancier Brezza and Baleno from the stable have them. For some reason, it seems buyers who opt for the Grand Vitara Smart Hybrid variant are penalised and forced to opt for the Intelligent Electric Hybrid if they want the full feature list. It would just make a lot more sense to introduce these added features in the top specced Smart Hybrid, to make it a more wholesome and irresistible package.
Grand Vitara’s cabin also scores high on comfort and space. The front seats are well bolstered with good shoulder support, if a tad bit too firm, and the back seats provide ample leg room and head room for passengers. Under thigh support is an issue, but not a deal breaker. The Grand Vitara however, isn’t the widest vehicle in its class, and seating three well-built adults at the back can be a squeeze. Rear seats come with AC vents and fast charging USB-C and USB-A outlets, for convenience.
In terms of safety, Grand Vitara comes with dual airbags as standard on all models, six airbags on the higher end versions, ESP, Hill Hold Assist on all models and Hill Descent Control on the 4WD variant.
There are two engine options – the 1.5L K15C Smart Hybrid petrol variant, and a 1.5L 3-cylinder Intelligent Hybrid petrol variant. The Smart Hybrid uses Maruti Suzuki’s tried and tested 12V-6Ah lithium ion battery which uses regenerative braking to charge the battery and provide a small boost in efficiency and performance. The Intelligent Hybrid on the other hand utilises a larger 177.6 V lithium ion battery for a more substantial hybrid setup. Our test vehicle was the 2WD Smart Hybrid version, and we shall have to leave our review of the 4WD AllGrip variant and the Intelligent Hybrid for another day.
The Smart Hybrid 1.5 litre K15C engine puts out a modest 102 bhp and 137 Nm of torque, and is paired with a 5-speed manual, or like our test unit, a 6-speed automatic transmission. The 4WD AllGrip variant however, only comes with the manual setup. The Grand Vitara is a large and moderately heavy car, and the small engine capacity and relatively low power numbers on the Smart Hybrid are hard to ignore. It’s not that the Grand Vitara is severely underpowered, but it lacks the grunt that many competitors with turbo-charged engines provide. While the linear power delivery ensures a smooth initial start, it doesn’t show any sense of urgency when you hit high double-digit speeds. Even while flooring the pedal, the Grand Vitara felt sluggish getting past 80 km/h, and took its own sweet time to reach triple-digit speeds. The engine on the Smart Hybrid is tuned for a more efficient driving experience rather than a power packed performance. But for everyday city driving and the occasional weekend family drive-out, it checks all the boxes. While the Grand Vitara might leave you wanting more out on empty roads, it’s a perfectly able city commuter. The engine does sound a bit raucous when accelerating hard, but for most part, engine noise is kept at bay inside the cabin which is otherwise quite well insulated.
The automatic transmission is also a breeze to use in stop and go traffic. While it is relatively quick to respond to acceleration, the addition of paddle shifters mean you can always take matters in your hands by shifting down for that extra surge. Maruti Suzuki has also nailed the ride and handling, with the suspension striking a great balance being neither too soft nor too harsh, and riding out bumps on the road with great ease. There is minimal body roll, which is surprising for a car this size, and it remains stable and pliant even under hard cornering. The steering is also very well weighted – light enough to make city driving a breeze with a bit of added weight when you want to throw the SUV around a corner. With such able driving dynamics, it was a pity that the Smart Hybrid didn’t quite have the power and grunt to go all out.
In terms of efficiency, Grand Vitara scores high with a rated mileage of more than 20 km/l. We recorded about 14.7 km/l during our test drive of 400+ kms.
Overall, our experience with the Grand Vitara left us impressed for the most part. It’s a well styled vehicle inside out, and quite a head turner on the streets. The build quality matches up to the aesthetics and the well equipped, airy and comfortable cabin is a place you’d be happy to spend a lot of your time in. With a small but efficient engine, the Grand Vitara Smart Hybrid is a great city drive, and even though it left us wanting a bit more in terms of performance, it is a well rounded package that will find favour amongst the value conscious affluent tribe.
Grand Vitara is undoubtedly a worthy challenger in the compact premium SUV segment, and is sure to give others some tough competition ahead. Prices start at INR 10.45 lacs for the base model and go up to INR 19.49 lacs for the range topping Intelligent Hybrid variant. There are some ten optional variants to choose from and you are sure to find that sweet spot somewhere.