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Winning Formula for 3rd Gen Suzuki Grand Vitara

Winning Formula for Third Generation Suzuki Grand Vitara

World demand for the new third generation Suzuki Grand Vitara has been so strong that production is being increased.

Annual output of the compact SUV sport utility vehicle has been boosted by 44 percent to 180,000 units.

Suzuki's world sales last year were well over two million units, largely as a result of the success of the new Swift hatchback and Grand Vitara.

Launched in New Zealand in the last quarter of 2005, the versatile Grand Vitara is offered with a choice of two body configurations and four engines, including a turbocharged diesel option.

There are also two types of four-wheel-drive transmissions that help widen the Suzuki's market appeal.

The new Grand Vitara has been received enthusiastically in many markets, including the United States where it is the top-selling Suzuki model.

Although the third generation series was on sale for only part of 2005, it played a significant part in Suzuki achieving record sales in North America.

The brand increased sales by 11 percent over 2004 and sales of Grand Vitaras were up by 78 percent.

Several independent awards have been garnished on the Grand Vitara, including the American Sport Truck Connection Television's Annual Light Truck and SUV award (ALTAS).

New Grand Vitara has also received the nod as the Best Kept Secret of 2006 by Autobytel, and was awarded nominations for North American Truck of the Year and Four Wheeler magazine's Four Wheeler of the Year.

Sport Truck Connection is the major US television programme dedicated to light truck, four-wheel-drives, vans and multi-purpose vehicles.

For the past four years the programme has picked the Suzuki XL-7 SUV for the ALTAS award.

This year the programme evaluated more than 100 vehicles before awarding the title to the new Grand Vitara, basing the outcome on how the vehicle rated in a series of performance tests.

Autobytel Inc. is a leading Internet Automotive Marketing Service Company that helps retailers sell cars and manufacturers build brands through marketing, advertising and data research. It is estimated that every 7.4 seconds an American car buyer requests a vehicle through Autobytel.

"Every year certain vehicles that deserve consideration end up going largely unnoticed by the car buying masses," said Autobytel. "This year the best of these admirable showroom wallflowers is the 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara – a well priced, distinctive little SUV that's been totally redesigned."

Autobytel said the vehicle's worthy considerations included styling and off-road capability.

The new look, complete with sharp, crisp lines, aggressive and angular headlights and a simple yet contemporary interior, rivalled the opposition, said the website.

"The Grand Vitara is a great vehicle for Autobytel readers, who often are ready to make a purchase but agonize over the wide section of automobiles," said Brian Chee, Managing Director of Autobytel. "We hope this award helps consumers put the Grand Vitara on their short list of what to buy."

Autobytel writer Thom Blackett said, "All told the 2006 Grand Vitara is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor, and is a test-drive must for shoppers of small SUVs who need that extra bit of real 4WD capability."

In New Zealand the latest model has retained its reputation for unique off-road capability and for its serious four-wheel-drive system compared to rival models.

All the five-door versions have the choice of high and low ratio drive but with the added benefit of a full-time 4WD.

Extensive engineering changes made the third generation Grand Vitara drive more like a "soft roader" for comfortable highway use while retaining the model's fine off-road reputation. With its special chassis integrated to the body, the design does not rely entirely on the monocoque for body strength.

Tom Peck, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand Ltd, said that even with the many changes and higher level of specification than the model it replaced, pricing remained largely unchanged.

Retail prices for the Grand Vitara start from $25,500, while the range-topping 2.7-litre Fuel-injected V6 automatic version tops out at $41,000.


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