35 Years History of Vitara Series Opens New Chapter in Suzuki’s Vitara-ism
For 35 years since the first generation Vitara made its fresh and bold appearance, Suzuki’s iconic SUV series has continued its dynamic evolution. Combining urban styling and a compact size for ease of handling, the first Vitara immediately became a visionary pioneer. Vitara was a compact SUV with authentic design while other SUVs were still large and rugged looking. Over the years, the Vitara, and the Grand Vitara, continued to evolve, growing in size and strength, but always maintaining the special Vitara soul – its Vitara-ism.
The Vitara series has now given birth to an all-new Grand Vitara, an SUV just right for today. We would like to take this opportunity to share how the proud history of the Vitara, continues to flourish with the introduction of this latest model.
1988 First Generation- Suzuki long had a vision of a 4x4 vehicle that could negotiate forest trails, mud and rocks and take four-wheel drivers places they had not been able to reach before. In 1968 that vision became a reality when the development of the Jimny was started. Jimny’s success led Suzuki to create a new kind of off-road vehicle - a vehicle unlike the heavy-duty cross-country vehicles or the passenger-car-style mid-sized SUV of the day. The first-generation vehicle was called Vitara inspired by the English word “vital,” as in “vitality.”
The first generation’s body design went beyond anything seen on earlier 4x4 vehicles. A unique alternative to conventional cross-country vehicles, the Vitara marked a new chapter in Suzuki’s all-terrain capabilities, prioritizing on-road performance with stylishness. The three-door body started a trend in 4x4 design and came in both hard top and convertible (canvas) models. In 1991, Suzuki expanded its Vitara offerings with the addition of a five-door version. The following year, the newly added fashionable two-tone body became an instant hit.
As soon as the first generation Vitara burst onto the scene, it proved its mettle in cross-country rallies in Australia and Asia. In Colorado in the U.S., Vitara joined the annual Pikes Peak Climb, a mountain rising to 4,301m. Known as “Escudo” in Japan and “Sidekick” in North America, the model truly embodied the moon-cruiser concept and sold approximately 1.1 million units over 9.5 years worldwide. It was the best-selling off-road model in many countries.
1998 Second Generation- The second generation of Vitara arrived in 1998 with the announcement of the Grand Vitara, a model with authentic 4WD, comfortable on-road performance and a boldly retooled exterior design. The new Grand Vitara, with expanded body size featured a genuine cross country 4x4 exterior design, befitting a new generation 4x4 vehicle. The new model also met the demand for enhanced safety and better environmental performance.
The new model inherited Vitara’s DNA, while being mindful of the SUV’s city use by delivering better on-road performance. Also available in the 2.0L diesel configuration, taking advantage of the popularity of diesel models in Europe, Grand Vitara quickly became in high demand, developing a distinct path for Suzuki into the market for lifestyle vehicles.
While great for on-road driving, its off-road ability was demonstrated by the mark it made in the Dakar Rally in the challenging deserts of western Africa. Able to carry hundreds of litres of petrol, the second generation Vitara was able to compete at rally speeds in the most rugged deserts and on the enormous dunes of the Sahara.
In 2001, Suzuki launched the Grand Vitara XL7, breaking new ground with the most compact seven-seater SUV at that time. The new model provided a spacious cabin with full-bore 4x4 performance, combining a relaxing driving performance with great off-road capability. Its greater passenger-carrying capacity helped make Grand Vitara XL7 the unique model in the series.
All variants of the Grand Vitara sold over 800,000 units in approximately 60 national markets worldwide, including North America, expanding customers’ ideal driving from town to the open road with genuine 4x4 experience.
2005 Third Generation- The Grand Vitara underwent a full model change in 2005 retaining the unique identity of the series and showing an enhanced feel of Suzuki’s SUV excellence. Its sharp and edgy design based on the concept “off-road athlete” reflected a tough, sporty theme. Aligned with European tastes, the Grand Vitara embodies a fusion of three key attributes: tough off-road performance, stable on-road performance, and refined ride quality.
As in the earlier generation, the third generation Vitara took the field in rally competition. At the classic Asian Cross-Country Rally held across Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Vietnam, Suzuki’s entry took on full-throttle speed challenges across gruelling terrains including tropical rainforests.
Beyond sales in Europe, the model became very popular in the Americas and Japan, so much so that its sales had to continue for many years even after the launch of the fourth generation Vitara, resulting in the sale of over 1 million units to date.
2014 Fourth Generation- In 2014, more than 25 years since Vitara’s first-generation debut, Suzuki came out with a brand-new model with the Vitara name. In response to the huge increase in demands for the latest technology, economy and environmental performance, the new model manufactured in Hungary, combined ruggedness, innovation, and individuality.
Designed with personalization in mind to meet individual lifestyles, the fourth generation Vitara featured the ALLGRIP SELECT 4x4 system befitting the Vitara series. The model has proved popular especially in Europe and Central and South America, selling almost 900,000 units worldwide till year 2023, and is still being sold in many countries.
A variant of Vitara: Vitara Brezza
In 2016 Suzuki launched a variant of Vitara, the Vitara Brezza, which was Suzuki’s first model developed in India. Because of its popularity, the model reached sales of more than 780,000 units till year 2023, becoming the best-selling car in its class in India.
From its first launch, Vitara fans around the world have created various fan clubs such as the Suzuki 4WD Fan Club and Vitara Owners’ Club. In Australia where Suzuki’s 4x4 performance fits well with the demands of the outback environment, Suzuki 4x4 enthusiasts travel thousands of kilometres for camping and other outdoor adventures. Vitara’s first owners’ clubs began in Europe and have now spread to many countries in Asia, Central and South America.
2023 All-New Grand Vitara
After years of anticipation by fans around the world, the all-new Grand Vitara is here, with a bold design for daring adventures. Inheriting the spirit of Vitara-ism, the Grand Vitara’s DNA, the new model is packed with new technologies including ALLGRIP SELECT, evolving into “an SUV of a New Era”. Since 1988 when Vitara opened a new genre of “compact SUVs”, the Vitara series has become popular around the world, with sales volume reaching over 3.9 million units globally. Following in the footsteps of earlier generations, a perfectly sophisticated SUV, the New Grand Vitara, will pioneer a new world for SUVs.
To know more about the new Grand Vitara, please visit the link below.