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.

2018
Category Winners
2018 Up to 1400kg

Skoda Octavia

2.0 TDI 150PS SE L DSG

2018 1400-1549kg

Skoda Superb

2.0 TDI 150PS SE L Executive

2018 1550-1699kg

Peugeot 5008

2.0 BlueHDi EAT8 S&S GT

2018 1700-1899kg

BMW 520d

Touring xDrive M Sport

2018 1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery

3.0 Td6 HSE

2018 Best Family SUV

Volvo XC40

Volvo XC40 D4 AWD R-Design Pro

2018 Best Petrol Tow Car

Kia Stinger

2.0 T-GDi GT-Line

2018 Best Ultralight Tow Car

Volkswagen Polo

1.0 TSI 115PS SEL DSG

2018 Fuel Economy Award

Hyundai i30 Tourer

1.6 CRDi 110PS Premium

Previous Winners
2017
1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery

3.0 Td6 HSE*

2016
1400-1549kg

Skoda Superb Hatch

2.0 TDI 150PS SE Business

2015
1400-1549kg

Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI BMT 150PS SE Business DSG

2014
1400-1549kg

Nissan Qashqai

1.6 dCi (130PS) Stop/Start System Acenta Premium

2013
Up to 1424kg

Skoda Octavia

2.0 TDI CR 150PS Elegance

2012
1725–1899kg

Jaguar XF

2.2D Premium Luxury

2011
1425-1574kg

Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI 170 Bluemotion Sport

2010
1900kg+

Land Rover Discovery 4

3.0 TDV6 XS

2009
1900kg+

Volvo XC60

D5 SE Geartronic

2008
1575-1724kg

Ford Mondeo Estate

2.0 TDCi Titanium auto

2007
1575-1724kg

Volkswagen Passat Estate

2.0 TDI Sport 4Motion

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