Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara long term review; 13,700 km report


If we make a list of groundbreaking cars launched here over the last decade or so, the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara strong hybrid would certainly feature high on it. The reason, of course, is the Toyota-based strong-hybrid tech that makes it extremely fuel-efficient as well as very drivable and seamless in its functionality. 

It takes to bad roads like a real champ.

So just how efficient was it over the eight or so months we had our 2023 Car of the Year winner? Over the 7,000-odd kilometres we drove the car, we regularly saw figures as high as 21kpl and 22kpl. That’s a good 40 percent more than you should expect on a petrol SUV of this size, and remember, we weren’t taking it easy or using Eco mode. Within the city it gave us between 17-18kpl. How is it so efficient? The car saves a lot of energy when you slow down, brake or lift off the throttle, and this saved energy is then used by the electric motor, which has an inherently higher efficiency (45 percent for petrol versus 95 percent for electric drive). 

360-degree view comes in handy when parking in tight places.

What I also really enjoyed was the swift deployment of torque from the electric motor. This made driving it in city traffic an absolute pleasure as the responses from the torquey three-cylinder and the electric motor blend perfectly for a quick shot of torque. Have to admit, I never got tired of that. And what’s nice is the lack of a gearbox. No waiting for the engine and gearbox to disengage, select a gear, and re-engage before moving forward, just BAAM!

Cloth shroud lets in too much sun, though Maruti now offers a solution, for a cost.

What also really stood out was how well the Grand Vitara tackled bad roads. The suspension isn’t soft or cushy and there is some amount of stiffness in the springs, but show it a really challenging section where the road is really beaten up and it just shines. It was so good I’d often drive over some rough stuff saying, “I wonder how well it will take this”, and it never disappointed.

Getting upwards of 20kpl on a regular basis is light on the pocket.

The Grand Vitara strong-hybrid isn’t as good on the highway. Flat-out acceleration isn’t as strong as some rivals and this is something I did notice, especially when overtaking. In addition, luggage space was something of an issue due to the big lithium-ion battery being placed in the boot rather than under the rear seat. So space in the trunk is only 265 litres, and that meant we had to leave the parcel tray at home to load up the bags; not ideal. What also makes the Grand Vitara strong hybrid less than perfect on a long drive is that the brakes need more initial bite and a better pedal feel. This is because initial braking is mostly from regeneration of electricity via the motor/generator; yes, once the friction brakes kick in, there’s much more stopping power. But what I often found was that the unused discs remained cold, so they only delivered sub-optimal performance when I first hit the brakes hard.


Something the Grand Vitara did superbly was attack corners. Always agile, confident, well-balanced and with some good connect from the steering wheel, driving the Grand Vitara quickly over a winding road or even on an early morning drive was always entertaining.

Also comfortable, both at the front and the rear, are the seats; they’re cooled and sufficiently large up front and offer a good amount of space in the back. The cabin of the Grand Vitara also feels robustly put together – especially the dash – and the faux leather-lined sections and the metallic highlights do give the cabin a lift.

Fuel economy figures can be startling at times.

However, most rivals do have a more plush-looking fascia. The quality of some buttons could certainly do with some improvement. Other peeves: the thin shroud of the sunroof lets in way too much sunlight (Maruti now has a fix though; Rs 5,490 for a tinted sunroof film), and the doors don’t shut easily and bounce open – they are light and you need to use a bit of force to close them, which can get irksome. Also, something that proved irritating was the lack of clarity when using your phone over the car’s infotainment system. The mic pics up a lot of background noise, which means the person you are speaking to will often hear a noisy audio feed, and you often have to strain to hear the person at the other end of the line too. 

Electric motor and engine combine for quick overtaking.

On the whole though, we really enjoyed running this car as our long termer. The big highlight, of course, was the huge jump in fuel efficiency and how light it was on the pocket. For an SUV to regularly clock hatchback levels of efficiency was just astounding, especially without the Eco mode. What we also liked was how confident and entertaining it was to drive, and how comfortable it was. But the best bit’s got to be that strong-hybrid tech.

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