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Suzuki Keeps Mark Inglis On The Move

New Suzuki Grand Vitara Xl-7 Keeps Mark Inglis On The Move

Mountaineer Mark Inglis has a new four-wheel-drive vehicle to help keep his busy life on the move.

The outgoing Marlborough man, who has earned a solid reputation for his sporting prowess, positive attitude and tenacity in times of difficulty, recently took the wheel of a new facelifted Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7.

This is the third Grand Vitara XL-7 he has driven and used, and its dual-purpose role is proving ideal for Mark who seeks personal excellence in both work and play.

Almost 22 years ago Inglis caught the imagination and admiration of New Zealanders after a life-threatening episode on the Southern Alps.

Mark lost both legs below the knees due to frostbite after being trapped in an ice cave for 14 days.

Inglis was a search and rescue mountaineer in the Mt Cook National Park when he became trapped in a storm and was unable to return to the safety of lower ground.

But he made the best of the tragedy and today still maintains his passions for mountaineering, cycling, skiing, food and wine consultancy.

"Our rescue turned into a major media event as well as being a traumatic time for all involved," he said. "It was a very public hiccup to my climbing profession”.

The New Zealander went from legless mountaineer and ski guide to research scientist after graduating with a first class honours degree in human biochemistry.

Inglis is a motivational speaker who recently launched a new sports food range, and his admirable spirit is an inspiration to all.

In 2003 Mark Inglis was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to disabled people.

He sees disabled people as "having not a lack of ability, just a different opportunity".

His latest XL-7 not only provides him with daily transport but also unlocks the key to exploring the great outdoors where he has spent so much of his life.

As the mountains call him once more, the double amputee is set to climb the world's sixth highest mountain, the 8,201 metre Cho Oyu, in September. This climb will act as training for an assault on Mt Everest in either March 2005 or in 2006.

At 4,700mm in overall length, the Grand Vitara XL-7 is the largest Suzuki model ever built and its versatility and performance provide Inglis with just the sort of vehicle he needs.

Mark finds he can easily carry all the equipment he needs in a well-appointed machine that is so capable both on and off-road.

The rear side doors, for example, are exceptionally wide to facilitate easy loading or passenger access.

The Suzuki needs to be able to accommodate his cross-country mountain bikes while catering to the needs of his wife Anne and three children, Amanda, Jeremy and Lucy.

As flagship of the comprehensive Suzuki four-wheel-drive range, the XL-7 is powered by an all-alloy 2.7-litre V6 engine with twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder.

Instead of a rubber-timing belt, which occasionally needs replacing, the V6 motor uses an innovative two-stage timing chain that is self-lubricating, self-adjusting and maintenance-free.

A specially tuned crossover induction system contributes towards the engine's good fuel economy and lifted power from 127 kw to 135 kw while boosting torque to 250 Nm.

At the same time, the car's four-stage automatic gearbox was upgraded to a more versatile five-speed transmission.

With Suzuki's "Drive Select" four wheel drive system, all wheel drive can be engaged when moving in a straight line at speeds up to 100 km/h – a facility that Mark Inglis can make good use of.

The Grand Vitara XL-7 fits ideally into the Inglis lifestyle. He says, "Life for me is all about participation. I've always felt it's no use being just a voyager in life, as we are all here to make a difference."

Priced from $42,000, demand for the well equipped XL-7 has been boosted by the restyled and more distinctive front end, with new headlamps, grille and front bumper, revised aluminium wheels and changes to the dashboard and controls.

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