Suzuki is top of the

class

Suzuki Vitara hybrid, 2019, front
Suzuki Vitara, front
Suzuki Vitara, front
Suzuki Vitara, side
Suzuki Vitara, rear
Suzuki Vitara, rear
Suzuki Vitara, rear
Suzuki Vitara, boot
Suzuki Vitara, interior

IN the words of a very old police series from the U S of A - be careful out there.

The madness and danger of some people's driving has risen drastically over the months of lockdown, with people driving far too fast and dangerously, ignoring safety and the law.

The unthinking drivers who have lost all sense are convinced they won't be caught and that's because there are no police out there.

There are now only enough officers to react to situations and very few simply patrolling the roads as they used to, watching out for bad behaviour.

As I came out of the lockdown, one of the first cars I managed to drive was the excellent Suzuki Vitara in its latest Hybrid form, which is one of the best smaller SUVs on the market.

But driving further afield than the local supermarket for the first time, I regularly saw appalling undertaking, speeding and overtaking, all causing serious danger to other road users.

The Vitara range has been slimmed down. Gone are the old 1.6-litre petrol and diesel engines, and the later 1.0-litre turbo.

The 1.4S 140bhp Boosterjet turbo is still available in a couple of models, but the company is concentrating on the latest version of this same engine, which comes with similar overall power thanks to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.

It gives very good economy and decent emissions, without blunting performance one iota, and it's also more comfortable than the S while still managing very good grip and road-holding.

Although there are front wheel drive models available in the range, I tried the Allgrip 4WD version, which has enough traction to take on fairly serious rough stuff or winter ice and snow.

On dry roads during my tenure, it also proved to be accomplished and quick. Acceleration is very good in the gears just where you need it and the combined power units work seamlessly together when maximum urge is needed.

The petrol engine is smooth and quiet and charges the battery for the electric motor at cruising speeds and when decelerating and braking.

It also powers high power electrical components such as the air conditioning to save fuel and acts as the starter motor.

The four-wheel-drive (4WD) system sends power to the front wheels for road use, bringing the rear axle into play only when slippage is detected. It also has Sport, which tightens up the system to maximise road-holding and Snow to give maximum traction in the winter or off-road.

Sport also sharpens the engine response, giving noticeably more torque for immediate acceleration at a touch of the right foot.

Handling and road-holding are excellent for such a high car, with good anti roll and very, very strong grip that sees off much of the competition.

There's good feedback from the steering and the whole car feels solid and safe through fast corners.

Comfort is also up with the best though. It does feel some lumps and bumps as most cars do but is never uncomfortable and it handles the low speed potholes and speed humps in town very easily.

There is a little wind noise at speed and quite a lot of noise on tar and chipping surfaces. But then, that's true of far more expensive cars.

Equipment in the range topping SZ-5 I drove includes comfortable leather and suede seats, sat nav and a good DAB radio that is fully smartphone compatible.

It also has parking sensors front and rear, hill descent control, stability control, auto start stop, lane control, cruise, keyless entry and starting and phone and stereo controls on the steering wheel.

This latest Vitara is a cracking all rounder, good enough as a two wheel drive family car and as a 4WD to keep you going in the winter or across the farm.

FAST FACTS

Price: £26,560

Mechanical:140bhp, 1,373cc, 4cyl petrol engine plus electric motor driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 118mph

0-62mph:10.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 45.4

Insurance Group: 21

C02 emissions: 140g/km

Bik rating: 33%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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