By Mike Torpey on 2016-01-08 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Suzuki Vitara 1.6
SUZUKI decided to get down and personal to lure more buyers to its trendy compact crossover the Vitara.
A full quarter century since the model first caught the imagination of the British motoring public the Vitara is back in business with fresh style, new innovations and some serious off-road capability.
And right from the start the newcomer was designed with personalisation in mind, so Suzy fans can choose from 10 body colours - including the new Atlantis Turquoise Pearl Metallic and Horizon Orange Metallic - and five two tone combinations.
There are also various colours of instrument panel trim, ventilation rings and clock while Urban and Rugged packages are a £500 option.
Put that little lot together and you've got either a seriously stylish piece of kit or a dog's dinner.
Thankfully it's not the latter, and while the metallic orange versions really dazzle, the tested Atlantis variant really looks the business too.
Up for grabs in SZ4, SZ-T and SZ5 grades, prices are from £13,999 for the 1.6 petrol SZ4 variant with two-wheel drive.
While diesels will set you back an extra £3,000 they do start with the mid-range, and comprehensively equipped, SZ-T trim.
All the available powerplants are economical, the petrol versions with front-wheel drive capable of returning 53.3 miles per gallon and only slightly less with the AllGrip four-wheel-drive system at 50.4, while the two-wheel drive diesel boasts 70.6mpg and 67.2 withfour-wheel-drive.
If you want AllGrip, which I would recommend, then the starting point is £19,799 with a £1,500 premium for diesel.
This multi-mode traction system has four settings - Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock - all simply accessed via a rotary knob and which give the Vitara some useful capability in difficult conditions.
Take the Vitara off-road and it copes admirably with conditions varying from rocky tracks and muddy fields to ford crossings - and with Hill Descent Control engaged it takes steep slopes in its stride.
In urban conditions, the everyday habitat for most SUVs, the Suzuki is a positive, well balanced and enjoyable SUV to drive, though it could do with a bit more power.
An average fuel return of 54 miles per gallon was short of the manufacturer's official average but nonetheless acceptable.
All the Vitara models are extensively kitted out, have seven airbags, a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, Isofix child seat fittings in the rear and include Bluetooth and DAB radio as standard.
The interior feels tough and there's plenty of space plus a large boot with underfloor area too.
Suzuki Vitara 1.6 DDiS SZ5
Mechanical: 120ps, 1,598cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 12.4 seconds
Combined MPG: 67.2
Insurance Group: 17
C02 emissions: 106g/km
Bik rating: 19%
Warranty: 3yrs/62,000 miles
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