Launching a new vehicle usually entails a significant investment in a lavish event to mark the arrival of the latest model. However, Suzuki Auto South Africa has celebrated the introduction of its updated Grand Vitara SUV by completing a challenging 4 000 km road trip in support of a worthy cause.
Crewed by three motoring media teams, each completing two days of the six-day route, a brace of latest-generation Suzuki Grand Vitara 2.4 SUVs conquered torrential rain, heat and cold, challenging 4×4 terrain, gravel roads, wide-open highways and twisty mountain passes.
In the process, the new Grand Vitaras not only highlighted their legendary versatility, comfort and endurance, but also managed to raise funds for the Put Foot Foundation – a charity that provides new school shoes to disadvantaged children.
Despite the varying conditions, and daily driving stints of up to 12 hours long, the Suzukis completed the route without a single hitch. They ran like clockwork, not even suffering a single puncture along the way. A Jimny 4×4 medical support vehicle also covered the full distance.
Starting in Johannesburg, the first day took the crews to Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, via Bloemfontein and Ficksburg. Day Two was spent crossing the mountain kingdom, then re-entering SA through the legendary Sani Pass, and ending in Durban via Himeville and the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
With a fresh media crew on board, the Grand Vitaras continued their quest form Durban, heading south into the heart of the Wild Coast, and overnighting in Coffee Bay.
Day Four’s route included a photo opportunity at the famous Hole In The Wall, lunch in the coastal city of East London, and finally, an overnight stop in Grahamstown, home of Rhodes University and the Grahamstown Arts Festival.
An early start in Grahamstown for the last two days saw the Grand Vitaras pop into Port Elizabeth (also known as the Friendly City) for breakfast. They then headed down the Garden Route to George for a final crew change, before setting course over the Outeniqua Mountains to Oudtshoorn, for a well-deserved night’s sleep.
The final leg took the feisty SUVs to Cape Town along the scenic R62, visiting Barrydale, Montagu and Worcester along the way. When the dust had settled, the Put Foot Foundation was R16 000 richer, thanks to the intrepid crews and their Suzuki Grand Vitaras.
In addition to the 12 media guests representing both national and regional media, the marathon drive was joined by Suzuki Auto SA management, and representatives of the company’s advertising agency, Penquin.
However, the most intriguing member of the crew was Sini, a Suzuki mascot that arrived from Hamamatsu in Japan almost 40 years ago, and has called Suzuki SA’s reception his home for the past 31 years. Needless to say, Sini was particularly appreciative of his first outing in more than three decades!
“We wanted to highlight the arrival of our updated Grand Vitara, and its legendary versatility, while also supporting a worthy cause,” says Francois van Eeden, Suzuki Auto SA’s national sales and marketing manager.
“Our six-day odyssey not only emphasised the unique capabilities of the Grand Vitara, but also created an opportunity for us to raise money for the Put Foot Foundation – a charity that channels every cent of the funds it generates into the cause it represents. Assisting the foundation with allowing needy learners to experience the dignity of owning and wearing real leather shoes has been a privilege,” Van Eeden added.