Checked out the Grand Vitara Hybrid at a showroom: First observations

The car is a much better looker from the side. It is visibly longer than the likes of the Seltos, probably due to the fact that this is accentuated by the ridge shape running all the way down the side.

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Checked out the Grand Vitara at the Nexa showroom on my way to meet my friends. Test drives were not available yet, here is the gist of my observations. The variant I saw was the Zeta Strong Hybrid, the one below the top Alpha variant:

  • The car looks quite imposing. From the front it has a typical Maruti family look and could be mistaken for a minivan. The front is rather unremarkable. The LEd headlamp is low down on the front and I have a feeling it may be a bit low from the high beam point of view.


  • The car is a much better looker from the side. It is visibly longer than the likes of the Seltos, probably due to the fact that this is accentuated by the ridge shape running all the way down the side. The 17 inch wheels are large enough to do justice to the size of the car and are a perfect match for the wheel arches, not too big not too small. The squared off wheel arches led a certain masculinity to the design that is quite appealing.

  • The rear side is probably the best looking. It has the consistent horizontal lines and creases that lend a European flair to the look. The vertical tail lamp culture is rather unique and stands out.

  • Boot space is severely limited, as has been detailed in the various reviews. Those wanting to carry a lot of luggage plus 5 people in the car will be disappointed. Since the roof rails are cosmetic in nature, options of roof top mounted carriers may not also be possible. However, it is not that the battery is the only culprit. The protrusion of the battery is hardly 3 inches above the floor and that too, it only takes up half the boot area. Fundamentally, the design itself does not support a lot of boot space.

  • The doors are super light. I had trouble fully closing the door even after banging with a decent amount of force. It is not that the door assembly is thin, it is actually quite wide, it is just that the sheet metal used is super light.
  • The sunroof is awesome. It goes all the way back and both panels move. the roller bling is alo mechanised for both backward and forward motion, which is nice. The rear panel moving back was a surprise, I did not expect that. The sunroof lets in a tremendous amount of light and air. It is true that the roller blind is very thin and even when closed lets in a lot of light. I think the concerns about heat coming into the cabin may be a bit misplaced, as even a metal roof in dark colour is going to absorb a lot of heat and with good insulating glass plus additional reflective film coating, the heat transmission problem can be resolved to a large extent. 3M films, for example, claim to reflect upto 97% of heat producing infrared rays.

  • The front seats are excellent,. the seat cushioning is spot on, neither too hard, not too soft. The range of adjustment is truly extensive, the height adjustment seems to have a range of several inches, between the lowest and highest seating position. The seats go back a long way fore and aft as well. As someone with a 6’2″ height, I was very comfortable in terms of headroom, knee room and seat width. Plus with the steering column that can be adjusted for both rake and reach, it was easy to find a comfortable seating position. I did wish the seats had electric adjustments. When on a long car journey, occasionally changing the seat height and moving it back and forth can relieve strain on the back and this is much easier with electric seat adjustments.
  • The front instrument cluster is fully digital and the display is in sharp and beautifully designed. It is big and and font is very pleasing on the eyes. All vital information is displayed, and is dominated by the power flow readout.

  • The 9 inch infotainment screen looks massive. Most of the infotainment screens these days tend to be elongated rectangular shapes and since the measurement is diagonal, one does not expect much of a size even when you hear the display is 10 inches. However, this one is almost square, with quite a bit of height and so the the overall surface area is much more than even competing 10 inch displays from other brands. However, the display is a bit cluttered on the home screen, with a slew of tiny windows displaying everything from FM stations, to weather and what not. It is going to take a while to get used to the features and be able to call up what you need quickly.
  • The steering is a bit small for my liking although it looks well built and the buttons for cruise control etc have a nice tactile feel.
  • The stationary display car was running in electric mode for almost 10 minutes after I turned it on. The display showed 7 kpl, which is not surprising given this is a stationary display car. The engine did switch on at the end of 10 minutes and was clearly audible in the cabin, It is a bit like night and day, the utter silence at first makes the moderate engine idling sound itself seem like a lot. One may not have noticed the engine noise as being anything out of the ordinary for similar cars, other than the fact that it was so quiet prior to the engine coming on.
  • Rear seat leg room was good, even after adjusting the front seat to my seating position. The rear seat back is way too upright in the first position, and when you push it back to the second rear position, it is still a bit too upright for me., Should have had a third position with more recline especially fo the longer drives. This is probably not possible either due to the battery positioning or to preserve the already compromised boot space.
  • Rear head room was just about adequate, my head did brush the roof slightly in the forward seat back position. The rear seats are elevated to provide a theatre style seating position and to accommodate the hybrid’s battery underneath the seat, which eats up the rear headroom.
  • The rear seat is strictly for two adults and a child, three adults cannot sit abreast there.

All in all, I came away with the impression that this is a comfortable well built car (except for sheet metal of the doors) loaded to the gills with features. Looking forward to check out the Hyryder, which is the one I have booked (G Strong Hybrid). I prefer the Toyota family looks and at 50K less than the Grand Vitara and expected superior ownership experience of the Toyota network, I think that is a better choice.

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