The most fuel-efficient vehicle in India is not a small car, but a mid-size SUV – the Suzuki Grand Vitara. It offers a mileage of 28 km per litre. A tank of petrol can take you to Mumbai from Kozhikode. One more full tank and you can reach the national capital. The mileage offered by the Grand Vitara will stump the average Malayali who will never hesitate to ask about mileage of even a Rs 5 crore Rolls Royce.
A Toyota at Maruti price
When the Suzuki Grand Vitara returns to India after a gap of eight years, everything is new. The biggest change is that it is the first vehicle manufactured by Toyota at its Bengaluru plant and delivered to Maruti Suzuki's showroom. In other words, a Suzuki with Toyota quality and Maruti price.
A Toyota and a Suzuki
The Grand Vitara is a vehicle that combines the capabilities of both Toyota and Suzuki. It's a rare vehicle that combines Suzuki's famous Global C platform, the AllGrip four-wheel drive, and a strong hybrid system found in the Hilux, Camry and Prius, and other Toyota technologies. Maruti's component manufacturers have been heavily involved to reduce the price without losing quality. And, since it is manufactured by Toyota in its factory, it can boast of global standards of the Japanese auto giant.
Hybrids all the way
All models of the Grand Vitara are hybrids. There are two types of hybrid systems. First: The Smart Hybrid. It is the same hybrid system seen in the Marutis now. It offers a mileage of 21 kmpl. Second: Intelligent Electric Hybrid. This is totally different. This system is found in Toyota vehicles. Here the vehicle is primarily powered by an electric motor rather than an engine; the engine just supports the motor. When more power is needed, the engine gets active. Otherwise the motor drives the vehicle. All electric hybrids are automatic and offers a mileage of 27.97 kmpl.
Although the same vehicle is launched in a different form called Toyota High Rider, the bookings are not even half of Maruti. The main reason for Grand Vitara's booking reaching 60,000 even before its unveiling is its looks. Suzuki has succeeded in carrying over the iconic design elements of its well-known SUV Grand Vitara to the new vehicle. It's a proper SUV from any angle. The height, ground clearance and large 17-inch wheels combine to provide it a characteristic SUV look. According to news reports, this vehicle will soon replace the Grand Vitara in the global market and will be completely manufactured in India. If the reports are true, the fifth generation of Suzuki Grand Vitara, born in 1988, is destined to be an Indian.
Ultra modern, ultra beautiful
Apart from the tall stance, the Vitara gets a powerful grille and small headlamps fixed below the body while the indicator and daytime light combination above it are unique. Precision cut alloy wheels give the same distinction to the sides and tail lamp combination to the rear. The Grand Vitara badge in the rear augments the beauty of the rear. The spacious interior is accentuated by the burgundy colour and stitched leather finish on the top models. Ventilated front seats, a-first-for-Maruti panoramic sunroof, heads-up display, 9-inch infotainment, Clarion sound system and wireless charger are among the countless amenities.
Not just looks
On the off-roading track in Udaipur, the Grand Vitara overcame all obstacles with ease. Snow, mountains, potholes and mud are child's play for the Vitara with Suzuki's world famous AllGrip four-wheel system being the star. Apart from Auto, Sport and Snow modes, there is also a Lock mode. In Lock mode, power and torque are delivered to all four wheels as per demand. Each wheel automatically distributes power according to the surface it is on, so clearing any hurdle is an easy task for the Grand Vitara. It is powerful enough to compete with any off-road vehicle available in India today. If you want an All-Grip system, buy the semi-hybrid manual model.
The first option is Suzuki's 1.5 four-cylinder petrol mild hybrid that churns out 103 bhp of power and is offered in a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic version. All-Grip four-wheel system is available in this engine. The second is Toyota's 1.5 three-cylinder petrol and electric motor combination. The same system that does duty in the Camry and the Prius. It's just that the engine is not that powerful. However, the motor and the engine will jointly deliver 116 bhp of power. The electric motor can work at a speed of up to 120 kmph. The engine comes to the rescue when more power is needed, and the battery needs to be charged. The motor is powered by a 0.76-watt lithium-ion battery that is fixed in the trunk without wasting much space. If you lift the bonnet, you can see the engine, but it is the motor that powers the wheels.
After the manual All-Grip model, the intelligent electric hybrid version was provided for the city drive in Udaipur. It does not feel like driving an electric car but provides a regular petrol model experience. Every now and then, when 'EV' flashes on the console, you should know that the ride is now fully electric. Both the pickup and the performance are on par with regular SUVs. All strong hybrid models feature an automatic gear shift. The time-tested Maruti K series engine and six-speed gearbox go well with the Vitara. The ride comfort in both the models is the same in the front and rear seats.
EVs can wait
If you are planning to buy pure electric vehicles, it is better to wait. There are several reasons for this. Electric technology is developing, especially batteries. Several new discoveries are being made in this field. More economical, durable and safer batteries will come in five years. The second reason is the high cost. The top model of the hybrid will be available at the price of Tata Nexon, the cheapest electric car. MG, Volvo, Mercedes and BMW electrics are much more expensive. Third, the battery warranty is a maximum eight years for EVs. The battery costs more than half the cost of the vehicle.
Will you pay half the price of the car that is used for 8 years and install a new battery, or will you junk it? It is a matter to think about. Hybrid batteries will run for three lakh kilometres. And it comes cheap; not even Rs 1 lakh. Fourth, practicality. You don't need to charge the battery in a hybrid car. The competition between electric and hybrid that needs to be charged every 300 km can be best compared to the race between a tortoise and a hare.
The prices are yet to be announced. The variants include Smart Hybrid Sigma, Delta, Zeta and Alpha. Zeta Plus and Alfa Plus variants are available in intelligent electric hybrids. The Hyryder, the Toyota version of the Vitara, is priced between Rs 15.11 lakh and Rs 18.99 lakh for the high-end variants. The Vitara too might have similar prices. Prices for the base variants of the Hyryder have not been announced.
Rivals Creta and Seltos
The Suzuki Grand Vitara and Toyota Hyryder are going to enter the market that is being dominated by the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos. Toyota and Suzuki will be the stars of the market with the latest technology, comfort and best brand and above all the trump card of 28 kmpl fuel efficiency. The heavy booking itself is proof.