Suzuki Vitara 1.6

ALLGRIP SZ5

Suzuki Vitara, front
Suzuki Vitara, side
Suzuki Vitara, interior
Suzuki Vitara, rear
Suzuki Vitara, boot
Suzuki Vitara, diesel engine

WHEN I was a callow youth and playing football was still an option for legs unriddled with age, a good friend offered me a lift home from a game.

The year was 1990 and the model was a Suzuki Vitara which was the height of fashion, with seemingly all the bright young things keen on owning one.

They were lured by the in-your-face chrome bull bars, wide wheels, fresh colour schemes and a range of accessories that offered neat ways of personalising the motor - long before such options became an industry norm.

It also heralded the emergence of the SUV market that currently dominates the modern motoring world.

Many moons have passed since those halcyon days. But while I can no longer strut my stuff on a football pitch, Suzuki has given the Vitara a new lease of life with the launch of the latest generation aimed once more at attracting the attention of motoring's young fashionistas.

To do that lessons have obviously been learned from some brash newcomers to the market, so the chunky styling features sharp lines and a purposeful stance with integrated roof rails and large bumpers giving the Vitara a muscular feel.

Suzuki also offers Urban or Rugged styling packs with tempting additions such as extra chrome trim or a tailgate spoiler while metallic paint costs £430 and a contrasting roof colour is also a cost option.

The SUV is available in SZ4, SZ-T and SZ5 grades with either front-wheel drive or the ALLGRIP intelligent four-wheel drive on the car I tried.

Step into the Vitara and the modern cabin looks the part with comfortable and supportive leather seats as well as a high driving position giving a good view of the motoring world around you.

The lack of soft touch finishes is one quibble though in a car costing north of £20,000.

However, there is plenty of kit included with even the entry-level SZ4 boasting DAB radio with USB and Bluetooth connectivity as well as front and rear electric windows, cruise control with speed limiter, automatic air conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels and seven airbags.

There's also a Radar Brake System on the SZ5 model that monitors the road ahead and warns the driver or even applies the brakes if a collision is imminent.

This version also features a panoramic sunroof, which lets in lots of light, while parking sensors and a reversing camera are other helpful additions.

There is plenty of leg and headroom for all while the boot offers 375-litres of space expanding to 1,120 with the rear seats folded.

A false floor is created with the addition of a cover which helps create a level playing field with the boot lip. This makes loading easier as well as providing space beneath for odds and sods. There are also plenty of cup holders and cubby holes dotted about the place.

There are nice touches that give a lift to proceedings such as the analogue clock on the centre of the dash and the central touchscreen giving access to the infotainment and navigation systems.

It is decent to drive with nimble handling and the ALLGRIP system giving confidence both on and off road, while humps and hollows are smoothed out by the efficient suspension.

The 1.6-litre 118bhp petrol engine - linked to a five-speed manual gearbox - seems punchier than a slightly pedestrian 0-62mph time of 12 seconds would suggest and uses fuel frugally.

The Vitara is also available with the 1.6-litre diesel engines and a recently-launched 1.4-litre turbocharged engine in a sporty S range-topper.

FAST FACTS

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 ALLGRIP SZ5

Price: £20,299

Mechanical: 118bhp, 1,586cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving all wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 12 seconds

Combined MPG: 50.4

Insurance Group: 11

C02 emissions: 130g/km

Bik rating: 23%

Warranty: 3yrs/62,000 miles

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