Suzuki Puts Foot in aid of charity

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 4000km road trip in support of a worthy cause.

Three motoring media teams each drove two of the six days in the new Grand Vitara 2.4 litre 4×4. Rain storms, heat waves, cold spells, gravel roads, winding passes and those unavoidable open highways made up the road trip. The aim? To raise funds for the Put Foot Foundation – a charity that provides new school shoes to disadvantaged children.

The compact SUVs were on the road for up to 12 hours a day, but completed the route without a problem in sight (and without a single puncture!). The popular Suzuki Jimny also went along for the ride, carrying the team’s medical support for the duration of the trip and traversing the same obstacles that the GV met.

The trip began in Johannesburg, setting out to Maseru, Lesotho via Bloemfontein and Ficksburg. On the second day they crossed Lesotho, went down the Sani Pass and ended in Durban via the Midlands. New motoring media jumped in behind the wheel to push the fleet on to the Wild Coast, ending in Coffee Bay, and then finally they passed the Hole In the Wall and East London to rest in the university town of Grahamstown, home of the National Arts Festival.

An early start in Grahamstown for the last two days saw the Grand Vitaras pop into Port Elizabeth 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.