Grand Vitara AllGrip Drive Review. The All-Terrain Champion That Makes An Impression

Ever since its launch in 2022, the Grand Vitara has been a faithful performer for Maruti Suzuki, resonating deeply with their dedicated customer base. Retailing through the NEXA network, it swiftly became the fastest mid-size SUV to reach 100,000 units in the Indian market, and its consistently robust sales figures since then stand as a testament to its loyal fan base. Over the past couple of years, we’ve had the opportunity to test drive most of the Grand Vitara’s extensive range of variants. However, until recently, we had yet to experience one of its most intriguing options: the 4WD 1.5L version, which harnesses Suzuki’s renowned AllGrip system and promises significant off-road capabilities. With 12 variants on offer, is the Grand Vitara AllGrip the pick of the bunch? We drove it for more than 1300 kms over a couple of weeks, to find out. 

The AllGrip version of the Grand Vitara remains unchanged from its siblings in terms of exterior design, which is not a complaint by any means, as we’ve come to love the Grand Vitara’s confident styling. The large, aggressive front grille works together with the angular DRLs to give it a menacing front fascia, while the boxy front and rear overhangs give it a strong, squared stance from the sides. At the rear, the Porsche Cayenne-esque connected tail lamps give the Grand Vitara a distinct character, though one has to admit that it is the most copy-pasted design feature across SUVs launched in the past two years or so. The subtle spoiler finishes off an otherwise clean and modern exterior design. Over its short lifespan, the Grand Vitara has aged remarkably well and has continued to hold its own amongst its newer competitors, and for that, the design team deserves a round of applause.

The AllGrip’s interior is nearly identical to the other variants, except for a few material and colour differences. It is available in only one variant (Alpha) and misses out on the all black interior with champagne gold accents in favour of dual-tone black and Bordeaux colour theme. The familiar SmartPlay Pro+ infotainment system takes centre stage on the dashboard, and it comes 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 a large panoramic sunroof. However, what’s puzzling is that this variant does not get the full list of bells and whistles that the Intelligent Hybrid’s top-end variants get. The inclusion of features such as ventilated front seats, wireless charging, a head-up display (HUD) and a digital instrument display, would have upped the value quotient of the car, and a fully kitted out, top-of-the-line Grand Vitara AllGrip would have been a truly exciting proposition. Thankfully, there’s no let down in terms of safety features, and the AllGrip comes with 6 airbags as standard in addition to Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Hill Hold Assist and Hill Descent Control.

Under the hood is where things get interesting, because Maruti has chosen to utilise the 1.5L 4-cylinder petrol engine, which is interestingly only available with the option of a 5-speed manual transmission. The familiar K15C petrol motor produces 103 bhp and 137 Nm of torque, and the famed AllGrip system comes with four dynamically selectable drive modes, namely Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock. The 4-wheel drive system detects slippage in the front wheels and automatically distributes torque to maximise traction, while also providing feedback and feed-forward control to anticipate slippage based on the road surface, throttle opening position and steering angles, and allocate the torque to rear wheels before any slippage occurs. In Auto, the system stays predominantly front wheel drive and sends power to the rear only in low-traction settings, before switching back to 2WD once grip is regained. Sport mode supposedly sends power to the rear wheels to maximise corner stability, but we didn’t seem to notice much of a difference even under hard cornering. More adventurous contexts call for a switch to Snow mode, which is predominantly 4WD and works in tandem with the ESP system to redirect power to whichever wheel detects slip. The Lock mode is designed specifically to get you out of the toughest rut by dynamically distributing the torque 50:50 and automatically braking to improve extrication. 

While the Grand Vitara AllGrip isn’t meant to be a hardcore off-roader, and we also didn’t get a chance to really put it through extreme situations, the added confidence that the 4WD system provides is a welcome addition when compared to the rest of the lineup. The AllGrip system managed traction on loose surfaces much better than its 2WD counterparts, and while you shouldn’t go dune bashing in Rajasthan anytime soon, the added functionality and peace of mind is something that many customers would value. As a soft roader and family car that can comfortably carry four passengers and their luggage and provide a decent amount of all-terrain performance, on paper the AllGrip might just be the pick of the bunch from the Grand Vitara variant list. 

However, the engine and gearbox combination is where we found ourselves wanting more, as the 103 bhp engine just doesn’t have enough grunt to make full use of the capable AllGrip system. The vehicle struggles on steep inclines and struggles past 90 km/h. While we appreciate the option of a manual transmission, we can’t help but think that the inclusion of an automatic transmission would’ve made the AllGrip variant that much more enticing for many prospective customers. That being said, the AllGrip performs just as well as its siblings when it comes to on-road comfort and daily usability. Put it in Auto mode and you would be hard pressed to even notice the existence of the AllGrip system. The ride is soft and compliant at most speeds, and high speed stability is not too bad either. However, NVH levels at high speeds cannot be ignored, and that’s an area which has considerable scope for improvement. While we found road and tire noise to be well managed, the petrol motor’s lack of refinement makes itself known at speeds above 80 km/h, and vibrations start permeating through the seats and steering at higher speeds, even on the smoothest of surface. 

Overall, driving the Grand Vitara AllGrip proved to be an intriguing experience, with the added confidence of the 4WD system coming in handy whenever needed. The Grand Vitara already presents a compelling proposition, boasting a stylish and confident exterior design, a comfortable and spacious cabin, comprehensive safety features, and an extensive list of features that competes well against its rivals. Coupled with decent off-roading capabilities and a combined fuel efficiency of 16 km/l for this variant, the AllGrip emerges as a versatile package, catering to those seeking a blend of rugged adventure and daily practicality.

However, we do wish Maruti Suzuki had invested more effort into integrating their 4WD system with an automatic transmission and a more powerful engine, while adding a few extra bells and whistles. That being said, at an ex-showroom price of INR 17.01 lacs, the AllGrip offers supreme value for money and piques the interest of both enthusiasts and loyalists seeking the best of both worlds.

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