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SUZUKI GRAND VITARA PROJECT

This bush-capable wagon can benefit from some upgrades


The Suzuki Grand Vitara is by far the most capable SUV on the market. It has useful 1.97:1 low range gearing and is robustly built. However, like most 4WDs it can benefit from additional ground clearance and some under-body protection.

 

The ground clearance issue was fixed when we bought a Dobinson suspension kit ($1500 including fitment at Dobinson's Narellan NSW workshop) that replaced the standard coils and shock absorbers with taller components that gave us a 40mm lift front and rear.

The shock absorbers were twin-tube types with a longer stroke than standard, to accommodate the greater spring travel of the after-market coils.

Ride quality improved, with almost no 'thumping' from the suspension and bump absorption was also better. Handling remained flat and predictable.

We noticed that the slight change in castor angle gave sharper steering response, with somewhat less self-centering action.

To protect the Grand Vitara's mechanicals we bought a set of $400 underbody protection plates from Ironman. These 2.5mm steel plates covered the vulnerable radiator, engine sump and transmission, and were fitted by Ironman's NSW Southern Highlands distributor, the Cross Roads Group.

Our Project Grand Vitara vehicle is our daily drive that spends most of its time on formed surfaces, but is called upon for lighter-duty bush trips and for towing small camper trailers and boat trailers.

It's a 2009 2.4-litre petrol auto 'Adventure' variant that came standard with an aluminium nudge bar and lockable roof racks.

Our machine is internally standard, other than for an upgraded infotainment and navigation system that we bought on the web for around $550 and found that it fitted in like a factory unit.

The Pumpkin touch-screen unit came with Aussie mapping and radio frequencies, and had Bluetooth as well as USB and DVD playing functions. It also integrated with the existing steering wheel radio buttons.

We picked up a reversing camera on line for 30 bucks and found it easy to install.

The standard headlights aren't very good, like most SUV lights, so we added a pair of brilliant Narva LED high beam globes and a $900 pair of Hella Compact HIDs: a spot and spread combination that gives great spread and distance lighting from a small package.

 


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