FROM some angles it bears a remarkable resemblance to an Evoque. From a mechanical aspect, it has one of the most technically advanced engines available in any SUV.
Yet from a purchasing point of the Suzuki Vitara S is at the more affordable end of the price scale - i.e. almost half the price, in fact, of its illustrious Range Rover ‘lookalike'.
Sales of the Vitara, launched three years ago, have surged to epidemic proportions, and the S version adds to the attraction with a high spec and a sporty performance that almost belies its tall stance and off-road capabilitity.
Black alloy wheels, a new grille and rear spoiler ensure that keen car spotters will recognise the S version as something a bit different.
In a sector where diesel power is the norm, the turbo petrol 1.4-litre unit that propels the S is very welcome. Not least because the tiny Boosterjet engine pumps out a lusty 138bhp. With a pared down weight of just 1,210kg and four wheel drive the formula for fun is well and truly in place.
Despite its punchy acceleration - 62mph comes up in around 10 seconds and max is 124mph - fuel economy is miserly with most drivers capable of close to 45mpg on everyday running.
With tweaked suspension and more positive steering than the standard Vitara, the S is in a category of its own. Cornering is largely roll-free yet the ride is comfortably compliant, offering the best of both worlds to keen drivers.
The clever turbo design allows plenty of torque through the range so there's no need for frequent gear changing and you can easily potter around at 30mph in fifth or even sixth gear. At the other end of the spectrum, it's sometimes fun to hang on to a gear and let the revs rise - there's no sign of protest from the sweet-sounding four cylinder engine.
Cruising in sixth gear is a relaxed and quiet business making the Vitara S equally at home on motorways as zipping around country lanes, probably its more natural habitat.
The cabin is roomy enough and there's plenty of kit on board as standard, including sports seats in suede, reversing camera, air con and sat-nav, but some of the fascia mouldings are a tad low rent and certainly less tactile than some European rivals. Unlike the SZ5 version, there's no option to have a glass opening sunroof fitted at the moment in the S model.
Boot space of 375 litres is on a par with rivals and the rear seats flip down to increase versatility. There are plenty of cubbies, trays and bottle holders and a few flat surfaces that help make family outings and picnics more manageable. The rear floor of the boot adjusts to ensure that bulky items don't have to be lifted over a lip.