WITH housewives' favourites Take That behind the wheel of its latest television advertising campaign, the Suzuki Vitara continues to hit the right notes with shrewd car buyers.
Having taken many different guises in its own 30-years-plus career, this stalwart of the Japanese car maker's fleet was last reinvented in 2015 to cash in on the compact crossover craze and has been well received ever since.
You can't rest on your laurels in one of the most competitive market sectors, though, and a mid-life refresh for 2019 saw the Vitara gain some subtle design tweaks, interior upgrades and a trimmed down engine line-up which now eschews diesel power.
The changes are measured but improve the Vitara's overall appeal without impacting on its core strengths of good interior space in a compact, city-friendly package coupled with SUV styling and, with prices from Â£16,999, decent value for money.
Exterior changes are primarily evident at the front in the shape of a new-look grille and lower bumper while at the rear updated light clusters now feature a distinctive LED signature.
Inside the top of the dashboard is now covered in soft-touch material for a more upmarket feel while the instrument cluster gets a new central colour driver information display.
The most significant change though comes beneath the clamshell bonnet, a trademark Vitara feature, where the engine selection now consists of a choice of Suzuki's two impressive ‘Boosterjet' turbocharged petrol power packs - a four-cylinder 1.4 unit or the three-cylinder 1.0-litre option in our car.
Any fears that this tiny three-pot might leave the Vitara feeling a little under-powered are quickly dispelled once on the move.
Despite a pedestrian-sounding 0-62mph time of 12.5 seconds, when mated with the six-speed automatic transmission in our car, it actually feels much quicker - offering decent pull from low revs and responding promptly when you put your foot down.
Motorway speeds are reached and maintained without struggle or protest and zipping around in town traffic is handled with equal aplomb.
The overly fussy automatic transmission is the only blot on an otherwise smooth and surprisingly enjoyable drive, occasionally proving hesitant to change up under acceleration while frustratingly eager to switch down at the slightest lifting of the foot off the gas pedal.
A manual override is available though, and paddle shifters on the steering wheel make it easy for the driver to intervene. Alternatively, this engine can also be paired with a five-speed manual gearbox, which is cheaper to buy and slightly improves performance and economy.
Handling is pleasingly nimble for a crossover, albeit a compact one, with well-weighted, accurate steering and a chassis and suspension that's stiff enough to keep body roll in bends to a minimum but won't be rattling the bones of occupants either on our all-too-frequently patchy roads.
Suzuki's Allgrip four-wheel-drive system is an option, depending upon trim grade, and boasts accomplished off-road abilities but few crossovers ever face anything more challenging than a few speed bumps and front-wheel drive should be ideal for most buyers.
Four adults can be carried in comfort, with good head and leg room in the back and there's a decent amount of storage cubbies, including practical bottle holders in the rear door panels, while the boot, at 375 litres, is a good family size, expands to 710 litres with the rear seats folded down and features an adjustable floor.
Standard kit on entry-level SZ4 models includes alloy wheels, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, automatic air conditioning and electric windows.
Our mid-range SZ-T car added a seven-inch touchscreen interface, reversing camera, digital radio, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and rear privacy glass while flagship SZ5 versions get niceties such as suede seats, keyless entry and ignition, extra safety features and a panoramic sunroof.