Suzuki’s recent run of form continues with the Vitara. It’s a cracking little SUV.
It may be surprisingly light for a four-wheel-drive, with an official kerbweight of just 1295kg, but what it can sensibly tow it pulls very well.
In still air the Suzuki proved very stable, with a little movement creeping in at 60mph or more when caught by a crosswind. It didn’t feel quite as secure as the class-winning Skoda in the lane-change test, with more wallow when really pushed. Most drivers found the Suzuki took longer to pull the caravan straight again after a short, sharp steering input, too.
The hill start was straightforward. So long as the handbrake was pulled on firmly it stopped car and caravan from rolling backwards, and the surprisingly lively 1.6-litre engine and the ALLGRIP four-wheel drive system did the rest.
The engine has 236lb ft of torque, which puts it on a par with many 2.0-litre engines. That’s reflected in a respectable 17.1-second time in the 30-60mph acceleration test. When it’s time to stop rather than go, the brakes are comfortably up to the job, stopping car and caravan from 30mph in 10.4 metres.
Inside, the cabin plastics look tough and durable rather than plush, but the body-coloured splash of colour running across the dash gives the interior a lift. It’s easy to find a comfortable driving position, and there’s a reasonable amount of legroom in the back – although nowhere near as much as in the Skoda Octavia.
Our practicality testers found room for a full load of holiday luggage in the boot. However, we’d prefer a proper spare rather than the standard-fit repair kit. A compact spare is a dealer-fit option.
In range-topping SZ5 guise the Suzuki Vitara isn’t cheap, but your £21,000 buys a long list of standard equipment, including seven airbags, satellite navigation and a reversing camera that’s very handy if you ever need to hitch up on your own.