It's a Suzuki thing!

Over the past few years, Suzuki Motors SA has leapt into the limelight like Cinderella from relative no-man's land to astonishing sales with their latest range of models.

On the back of affordability, beautiful design, proven reliability and excellent value for money, the Japanese manufacturer has emerged as one of the most popular car manufacturers with total monthly sales, making Suzuki among the top three on the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa's (Naamsa's) monthly sales list for the past few months.

We recently had the opportunity to test three of Suzuki's latest models and experienced first-hand why people are so excited about the next generation of Suzukis.

Suzuki Grand Vitara GL 1.5-litre manual

The new generation Suzuki Grand Vitara has replaced the smaller and cheaper Vitara Brezza locally, with the newcomer probably one of the better SUVs from the Suzuki stable. The new Grand Vitara surprises with a spacious cabin for its class, good finishes and standard equipment for its price. It is available in a model range of five versions with a choice of two engines.

The range starts with the entry model, 1.5 GL. It is powered by a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with 77 kW/138 Nm of peak power and is available with a choice of a five-speed manual gearbox or a four-speed automatic gearbox. The power is sent to the front wheels, and the GL achieves a top speed of 183 kph, with a 0-100 kph run taking 11.3 seconds.

The top model is the Grand Vitara 1.5 GLX Hybrid AllGrip, which is only available in automatic and sends power to all four wheels. Powered by a mild hybrid system that delivers 75.8 kW at 6 000 rpm and 136.8 Nm at 4 400 rpm, the system works uninterrupted while supporting the engine for similar performance to a normal internal combustion engine but with lower harmful emissions and fuel consumption.

Suzuki's official figure for the AllGrip Hybrid is given as 6 l/100 km but can be even lower to 5.6 l/100 km, despite the extra 125 kg weight of the AllGrip 4-wheel drive system.

The newcomer’s styling appears modern, especially the front design, where the LED main and daytime running lights as well as the prominent grille are striking.

Inside, the spacious cabin has enough space for five occupants with a load space of 328 litres. High levels of standard equipment with good ergonomics as well as modern instrumentation that includes the large colour touchscreen for infotainment were a pleasant surprise.

The cheaper 1.5-litre GL manual is our favourite. The gearbox is a gem, with gear ratios and engine power perfectly combined for excellent performance. The Grand Vitara offers good road dynamics and ride quality, but we were particularly impressed on dirt roads.

The GL 1.5 manual is our choice in the new Grand Vitara model range.

Suzuki XL6 GLX Automatic

The Suzuki XL6 is a completely new six-seater family vehicle that is more luxuriously finished and better equipped than the old Ertiga, which featured seven seats. With a design philosophy that leans the body style towards an SUV, the cabin layout of three rows of seats placed in two and side by side is ideal for a family who needs a practical, well-equipped and affordable family vehicle.

The XL6 is currently available in four models powered by the same proven Suzuki 1.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine. Power is delivered to the front wheels with the choice of a four-speed automatic gearbox or a five-speed manual gearbox. This engine delivers 77 kW at 6 000 rpm and 138 Nm of torque at 4 400 rpm. The top speed is stated as 170 kph and the 0-100 kph run takes 11.6 seconds.

Suzuki's official fuel figures in a combined test cycle, which includes city and highway driving, are given as just 6 litres/100 km for the manual and 6.1 litres/100 km for the automatic model.

In our opinion, the XL6 offers excellent value for money when looking at the prices at launch.

The 180 mm ground clearance, 185/65/15” tyres and silver fenders front and rear also support the SUV design philosophy.

Suzuki's newer generation vehicles are excellently equipped and the XL6 is no exception.

Every XL6 is equipped with a 7” touchscreen infotainment system with six speakers and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The large screen is also used to display the image from the built-in reverse camera. Electric windows are standard, as are power steering, front climate control, rear air conditioning, three 12V power sockets and a USB port, Bluetooth phone connectivity, remote central locking, keyless entry with a push-button start function, and ventilated cup holders in the front console.

Furthermore, the Suzuki XL6 offers a comprehensive range of active and passive safety systems as standard, which also include dual lSOFIX child seat mounts, two airbags, child locks for the rear doors, ABS with electronic brake force distribution, an electronic stability programme and enhanced impact beams in the doors.

The new Suzuki XL6 is sure to further drive the sales of Suzuki models in South Africa.

Suzuki Fronx 1.5-litre GLX

Suzuki Motors South Africa recently introduced a new coupe-styled compact SUV, and we tested the top-model GLX version shortly thereafter.

The Fronx takes its place in the Suzuki range just below the new Grand Vitara and replaces the outgoing Suzuki Vitara Brezza. However, the new Fronx is based on the popular Baleno hatchback but rides higher on its 195/16/R16 decorative wheels to offer a respectable ground clearance of 170 mm.

Suzuki's R&D department saw fit to design the Fronx to ride the wave of the current popularity of anything that embodies adventure in the design philosophy. That's why buyers who want to explore the dirt tracks and back roads outside the concrete jungle to satisfy their thirst for the outdoors are looking for an affordable vehicle.

Inside, the Fronx offers a neat, modern cabin that is exceptionally well equipped given the price and segment the Fronx competes with.

The top-model GLX version offers high levels of standard equipment compared to other models in this competitive segment. Among other things, there were automatic LED headlights and a 9” touch screen for the sound, communication and information systems (7” for the GL models). The system is integrated with Bluetooth, AppleCarPlay and Android Auto. There is a 360-degree camera system that includes a reversing camera, automatic climate control, cruise control, three USB connection points, one of which is Type C, as well as a wireless smartphone charging tray.

Furthermore, the GLX offers a 4.2” instrument panel with a system that projects trip info on the windshield in front of the driver, keyless entry and on/off, as well as an electro-chromatic rear-view mirror.

The Fronx also comes with comprehensive active and passive safety systems, including six airbags, as with our test model.

The new Suzuki Fronx surprised and overwhelmed us against all expectations with road behaviour, handling, and standard equipment. Overall, the Suzuki Fronx is our surprise for 2023! It is undoubtedly the best copy currently available and offers incredible value for money to its buyers.

It is my favourite car right now to win 2024 Car of the Year, and it is a winner in every way!


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