Suzuki’s all-new, second generation Grand Vitara is longer, wider and therefore more spacious, boasts sleek new styling, and, thanks to an innovative body construction, offers exceptional refinement while still delivering the strong four-wheel drive capability for which the marque is renowned.

Entering showrooms on 15 September, 2005, the range will initially comprise a 1.6 16v VVT 3-door model and a 2.0 16v 5-door model. They will be joined late this year by the 1.9 DDiS 5-door model. The 2.0 16v will be available with an optional automatic transmission and all feature an all-new, permanent four-wheel drive system.

Suzuki has adopted two subtly different philosophies for the 3- and 5-door models to reflect the demands of the market. Thus, while the 3-door model features permanent four-wheel drive, it doesn’t feature a centre differential lock and so has been specifically designed as a ‘soft-roader’, providing all the safety benefits of a four-wheel drive system on-road – added security in greasy and slippery conditions – plus useful levels of traction in, say, muddy fields or on gravel tracks.

5-door models, on the other hand, offer a differential lock and low range that signal their full-on SUV credentials and the serious and outstanding off road capability for which Suzuki has become renowned; they will tackle tough, muddy off road conditions with ease. The four different modes provided by the system on 5-door models are easily selected via a dash-mounted rotary switch.

For the first time, Suzuki has opted for unitary, rather than body on frame, construction for the Grand Vitara. However, this doesn’t indicate a watering-down of the range’s off-roading heritage; on the contrary, while there is no longer a separate ladder chassis, ingeniously the new monocoque construction incorporates a ‘built-in ladder frame’, a series of strengthening elements incorporated into the body which provide additional rigidity to match the most traditional of off-roaders and ensure exceptional off road ability. In a sense this lightweight design is a best of both worlds, for it delivers excellent refinement and a stiff platform upon which the all-independent suspension can work at its best. That all-new suspension offers drivers a combination of driving comfort, responsive handling and off-road toughness when it counts.

The monocoque design has also enabled Suzuki to retain good ground clearance and passenger headroom while simultaneously reducing the overall height of the Grand Vitara. Increased length and width together with extended wheelbases and short overhangs result in a particularly roomy interior with impressive legroom for passengers both front and rear.

The clean, uncluttered lines of the new body styling hint at both a refined elegance and – through the flared wheelarches and the wide track front and rear – a strong dynamic capability. The 3-door model’s shorter wheelbase and its pronounced forward sloping B-pillar provide a more muscular, more traditional SUV look.

The three engines have naturally been selected for their strong performance and efficiency. All feature drive-by-wire throttle management and advanced induction control systems to achieve excellent fuel economy. The new 106PS 1.6-litre engine also has variable valve timing and delivers 32.5mpg on the Combined cycle. All-round ability characterises the larger 140PS 2.0-litre petrol engine and its fuel consumption is not significantly lower – just 31.0mpg for the manual model. The intercooled and turbocharged diesel engine – supplied by Renault – returns 36.7mpg on the Combined cycle and the remarkably flat torque curve peaking at 221lb ft ensures the flexibility demanded by the typical SUV driver.

In true Suzuki fashion, all Grand Vitaras come exceptionally well equipped with higher levels of safety, passenger comfort and interior room. All models feature as standard climate control air conditioning, front electric windows (plus rear on 5-door models), an integrated radio/CD player, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, tinted glass, a tilt adjustable steering column, remote central locking, reclining rear seats, folding exterior door mirrors, driver and front passenger front and side airbags, front and rear curtain airbags and an immobiliser.

The 1.6 16v VVT+ model and all 5-door models add heated electric mirrors, alloy wheels, and front fog lamps.

Prices start at £12,699 for the 3-door 1.6-litre VVT manual, rising to £16,449 for the 5-door 2.0-litre 16v auto.  Prices for the diesel mode will be announced later.