SUZUKI is developing quite an impressive line-up of cars these days with the compact Swift, practical S-Cross, charismatic Jimny and now the introduction of a new-look Vitara that the company claims is its most technically advanced car ever.
The latest five-door Vitara was launched in 2015 and has just undergone a facelift. There is extra safety kit, new powertrains, styling upgrades and a more upmarket interior.
In fairness, the Vitara was always a good-looking car with its athletic upright design, roof rails, rear privacy glass, wheel arch extensions and chrome lower grille. Now the designers have added extra appeal with the introduction of new front grille and bumper along with freshly restyled LED lights.
There's a choice of three well-equipped trim levels called SZ4, SZ-T and SZ5 and prices range from £16,999 to £25,649.
When it comes to the engine line-up, Suzuki has ditched the diesel option and there is now Boosterjet technology for the 1.0-litre and 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engines. Other choices include manual or automatic gearboxes along with two or four-wheel drive.
The Vitara has lots of kit as standard and, depending on the trim level, expect to see smartphone link to connect a smartphone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a good audio set-up with DAB digital radio, a navigation system, Bluetooth, a colour touchscreen, a USB socket and plenty more.
Suzuki has also listened to customer feedback and the car now has a front armrest along with some soft-touch surfaces and improved seating.
We sampled the Vitara in mid-range SZ-T trim level powered by a punchy three-cylinder, 1.0-litre Boosterjet engine mated to a five-speed gearbox.
The car was priced at £20,799 and the only optional extra was specialist paint costing £800.
Suzuki engineers claim the 1.0-litre engine that has previously featured in the Suzuki Baleno, S-Cross and Swift, offers the same level of power and torque as a much larger capacity normally-aspirated 1.7 to 1.8-litre engine.
And it's a fair assessment - our car simply fizzed along. It's a car that's as happy on motorways as it is whizzing through the country lanes and there is a constant stream of power on tap, so overtaking slower-moving farm traffic is a breeze.
The 0-62mph sprint time is 12.0 seconds, but feels faster and the car maxes out at 111mph. It can deliver combined fuel economy of 39.4mpg with carbon emissions of 162g/km on the new more realistic WLTP rating.
The road holding is impressive with minimal body movement even when pushed into corners and the cabin is well protected against any wind, road surface or engine noise.
I was impressed with how quiet the three-pot engine was - even when driven hard it remained relatively hushed. My only slight gripe was the lack of a sixth gear.
Our car also featured Suzuki's Allgrip all-wheel drive system which will keep you on course when driving in poorer weather conditions or on more challenging terrain.
It has four modes called Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock. Auto maximises fuel efficiency and uses two-wheel drive as a default, Sport is best for twisty roads, Snow delivers extra grip and finally Lock is used for extricating the car from snow, mud or sand.
Passenger comfort levels are good with ample space in the back for a couple of adults - three if they don't mind rubbing shoulders.
The boot has a capacity of 375 litres which is increased to 710 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat and there is an adjustable boot floor to separate items such as wet gear or muddy boots.
Another plus factor is the cars maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating. This was achieved in 2015 and even more safety kit has been added to the 2019 car.
Features include a dual sensor brake support system that works between 3mph and 62mph. If it detects a possible collision with a person or vehicle ahead it offers a visual and audio warning. If the warnings are ignored it will start braking the vehicle.
Other safety systems include lane departure warning and lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert and traffic sign recognition.
All in all, the latest Vitara is proof that Suzuki is a brand that is going places. It was already a good car, but they were not satisfied with that - now it's a great car.