Everyone wants the Grand Vitara in office for one simple fact - the fuel efficiency is off the charts. I, however, like it for a different reason. It’s the first Maruti for me that truly looks premium. In traffic, you find onlookers impressed by its sharp, and somewhat butch-looking front end. And not just the exterior, but its interior too looks and feels upmarket. The Grand Vitara, then, is the first Maruti Suzuki for me that’s offering something different on the inside. Previously, stepping from one Maruti into the other felt no different. The fuel efficiency is no doubt out of this world, but I want to talk about braking. When the petrol engine is spinning, the braking feels assured and quite predictable - like most ICE cars. However, when the Grand Vitara goes into stealth mode at slow speeds, with only the electric motor propelling it, the braking feel changes and becomes mushy with literally no feedback. Honestly, it’s not the easiest job adapting to the braking feel of an EV, but when it changes like this in a hybrid, it becomes a bit frustrating at times. As for the interior, more on that in the next issue.
When it came: November 2022
Current odo reading: 5,995kms
Mileage this month: 1,810kms
Fuel efficiency: 20km/l
What’s good: Looks premium
What’s not: Braking in EV mode
Hybrids have been around for over a decade in India, but they were always meant for deep-pocketed environmentalists. In 2022, though, things changed for the better, as hybrid technology got democratised, thanks to the arrival of the Honda City e:HEV and Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara. While we’ve already tested both these cars extensively, we’ll now be living with one for months, as the latter has joined our long-term fleet.
So, how does living with a hybrid differ from an ICE-powered vehicle or an EV?
There are a lot of things to discuss, of course, but I’ll straight away jump to the most important part that concerns an average Indian car buyer – fuel efficiency. Now, this involves a lot of maths, so bear with me. My daily commute is 52kms, which involves highway driving, followed by choc-a-block traffic. In these mixed conditions, the Grand Vitara returned a phenomenal 21km/l.Trust me, I was not even trying to get such high numbers – I cruise at triple-digit speeds on the highway and am quite aggressive with my throttle inputs generally. I’m simply amazed, honestly.
Let’s now turn these numbers into money, and as you will see, it becomes even more impressive. On average, I’m now saving 196 bucks every day in comparison to when I was driving the Slavia 1.0 (11km/l). And based on my last month’s driving – which also included a short 600kms road trip apart from my daily commutes – my calculations suggest that I ended up saving roughly `7,000 in a month! In a year, it translates to `80,000 – 90,000. Now, you can say the Grand Vitara strong hybrid commands a hefty premium over the regular version, but if your monthly running is around 1,500 – 2,000kms, you will end up making up for the extra costs in a couple of years. With this kind of efficiency, a hybrid like the Grand Vitara can also rid you of your diesel fever, since there’s no uncertainty around its future. And, if you think an EV will have lower running costs, that’s true, but who’s got the time and patience to juice up a battery pack for hours?
Now, it all sounds brilliant for sure, but there are also some compromises you’ll have to make, which you may or may not like. More on this in the next report, so stay tuned.
When it came: November 2022
Current odo reading: 4,185kms
Mileage this month: 825kms
Fuel efficiency: 21km/l
What’s good: Efficiency, of course!
What’s not: Wooden brake feel