Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara Intelligent Electric & Smart Intelligent Hybrid SUVs in CarToq’s first drive review

By Shantonil Nag

Even though Maruti Suzuki wears the crown of the best-selling car manufacturer in India, the Indian brand has been missing out on the mid-size segment. Hyundai Creta and later Kia Seltos together rule the segment but Maruti Suzuki finally has an answer and it is called the Grand Vitara. Is the new Grand Vitara good enough for Maruti Suzuki to make its mark in the segment? We drove the car around and here is what we think. You can also watch the detailed video linked below.

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara AllGrip

This is the first variant of the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara that we drove. This is the mild-hybrid variant. The new Grand Vitara gets AllGrip, which is an internationally acclaimed AWD system from Suzuki. The AllGrip, however, is only available with a manual transmission and we drove it on a specially curated track for the Grand Vitara.

The Grand Vitara is the only car in the segment that offers an AWD system. Also, this is the first time that any Maruti Suzuki car is offering the AllGrip technology. There are four Drive modes in the AllGrip variant. In default mode, the car stays in Auto and switches to AWD mode whenever the car feels that there is a need for extra grip. You can change the mode with a push-and-turn dial in the centre console. There are additional modes like Snow, Sport and Lock. You can use the lock mode to make sure that the car stays in AWD mode all the time. While Snow and Sport modes change the throttle input and traction control settings for completely different driving experiences.

We drove the all-new Grand Vitara through various obstacles starting with incline and decline. The climb sure looked steep to us but we are not sure about the degree of the climb. At no point though, any part of the car touched the surface. We also tested the hill hold assist and hill descent control, which worked perfectly.

We then checked the ground clearance by driving over the rock bed and then headed towards the slush pit that really tested the capabilities of the new Grand Vitara. With stock road-biased tyres, the Grand Vitara excelled in conquering the slush pit. We also put two tyres of the Grand Vitara on snow slabs and saw the traction control system working at its finest.

In the end, we did the axle twisters that ensured that one of the tyres always remained in the air. Grand Vitara uses a traction control system to apply brakes on the wheel which has no traction or is in the air. This makes sure that the power goes to the other wheel and the car comes out of the obstacle without any challenge.

A stronger low-end torque would have allowed the Grand Vitara to be much fun on the off-roading obstacles. However, we feel that this is adequate for a car for this segment and buyers would definitely enjoy the extreme roads without the fear of getting stuck.

We then took the 4X2 version of the Smart Hybrid to the tarmac roads. While the manual transmission is very well tuned to the Smart Hybrid engine, we definitely think that a new six-speed manual transmission will add more dynamism to the driving.

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara 6-speed auto

Maruti Suzuki will also offer the Smart Hybrid, which is the mild hybrid system with a six-speed automatic transmission. This is the new six-speed transmission that Maruti Suzuki recently inducted into its line-up. The automatic transmission makes the 1.5-litre petrol engine much better to drive. The low-end torque feels stronger because of one extra gear ratio compared to the manual transmission.

The six-speed torque convertor is a brand-new transmission and it is very smooth. The gear shifts are smooth and effortless. While there is no sport mode, you can control the gear shifts through the paddle shifters. Yes, there are paddle shifters and they work quite well. With the automatic, the acceleration feels much better as well. We definitely liked the automatic transmission more than the manual.

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara IEH (Strong Hybrid)

The Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara Intelligent Electric Hybrid is what we were waiting for to drive. The Strong Hybrid feels completely different to drive. It gets a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine on Atkinson Cycle. There is a battery pack in the boot of the car. Turning on the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara IEH feels like that you are starting an electric car. The engine does not start initially. It is only after you drive, depending on the level of charge in the battery, the engine turns on.

The engine does not makes much of a sound but you do notice that it is on. You can also drive the Grand Vitara Strong Hybrid on EV mode. To drive the car in EV mode, you need to press a button in the centre console and if there’s enough charge in the battery left, the display will show EV Mode. You can drive the new Grand Vitara for a few kilometres completely on EV Mode.

There is no complaint about the low-end torque here. The combination of the engine and the strong hybrid system produce a maximum power of 115.56 PS of peak power. The engine produces a maximum torque of 122 Nm while there is a boost of additional 141 Nm torque from the Strong Hybrid system. Overall, we loved how the Strong Hybrid works.

The car gets e-CVT. It does not feel like the regular standard CVT at all. The rubberband effect is gone. There are two drive modes like many other strong hybrids. There is a standard Drive Mode and the Brake Mode. In Brake Mode, the regenerative braking forces are more powerful and it works perfectly while coming down a hill. It feels like strong engine braking and one can use it in daily traffic situation for one pedal driving too. Maruti Suzuki does not offer any modes for the battery regeneration that you can adjust according to your liking.

The Strong Hybrid variant also feels much more planted to the ground. It is because of the extra weight from the battery, which is positioned closer to the ground. You can definitely take corners at higher speeds on the strong hybrid variant compared to the mild hybrid version. Now, the strong hybrid is all about fuel efficiency. We drove the car inside the city roads and did some high speed runs on the highway. We were definitely satisfied to see a fuel efficiency figure of above 21 km/l on the display. The Smart Hybrid Automatic displayed only about 13 km/l on the similar route and driving style.

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara: A new design language

With the all-new Grand Vitara, Maruti Suzuki has introduced, Suzuki’s new design language to the Indian market. You get a large grille and split headlamp set-up. The bumper is countoured and also gets a large skid plate in the bottom. The face of the Grand Vitara looks quite distinctive. Also, the chrome is slightly copperish in colour with the strong hybrid version and that’s the only visual differentiator between the two variants.

The large squared off wheel arches house the 17-inch tyres. The top-end variant gets dual-tone diamond cut alloy wheels and they do look quite good on the car. The windowline is pretty straight and there are a few deep creases too. But the contrasting insert on the D-Pillar catches a lot of eyes. The Grand Vitara also gets roof rails but they are not functional since there is now a panoramic sunroof.

The rear looks the most interest part of the car. There are LED tail lamps, which are very sleek in design and there is a connecting LED strip too. There is a separate light cluster for the turn indicators, reverse lamp and reflectors. You can watch the video to see how impactful the tail lamps look when they are lit.

Plush cabin too

Maruti Suzuki has worked to make the Grand Vitara the plushest offering and it has worked very well. It gets a layered dashboard with upholstery and soft touch material. We loved how premium the dashboard of the Grand Vitara feels. Also, there are slight change in the colour of the inserts and the colour theme in the mild and strong hybrid variants.

In the mild hybrid, you get standard digital-analogue speedometer while the strong hybrid variant gets a completely new, all-digital speedometer. Also, the coloured HUD is only available with the strong hybrid variant. We have explained both of the speedometer very well in the video, you can watch the video for more.

Both the variants gets the 9.0-inch Smart Play and this is teh first time that a Maruti Suzuki car is offering wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.

The seats are same in both. There is ample side bolsters on the seats but the Strong Hybrid variant gets ventilated cooling. Both the variants get panoramic sunroof though, which is a first for any Maruti Suzuki car in the market.

The amount of space is similar in both the variants. But there’s a change in the space. The strong hybrid variant offers much less bootspace compared to the mild hybrid version because of the placement of the battery. You can check the video to see more details.

Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara: Should you buy it?

The all-new Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara marks a lot of firsts for Maruti Suzuki. There are numerous features that Maruti Suzuki has introduced with the new Grand Vitara. The Strong Hybrid variant can be seen as a replacement of the diesel-powered variant. It works effortlessly and we loved the way it drives. The Mild Hybrid is also a great choice and we definitely love how it behaves on the road. With the introduction of the Grand Vitara, Maruti Suzuki is definitely going to put a dent on the sales of the segment leaders. By how much? Well, that depends on the pricing. How much price do you think Maruti Suzuki will put on the all-new Grand Vitara? Do check out our video and make sure that you make a comment with that price that you think will be appropriate for the new Grand Vitara.


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