Suzuki has joined the growing band of car makers offering smaller, more powerful engines in its new cars.
In the latest example of this the Japanese car maker has just launched its new Vitara S, a handsome SUV with a turbocharged 1.4-litre, 140 bhp petrol engine.
The current Vitara range, launched just eight months ago, features 1.6-litre petrol engines – as well as 1.6-litre diesels – but despite its smaller engine size the new S is quicker, offers more flexible performance and is just as economical .
And best of all it’s packed with a raft of equipment but still manages to maintain a very sensible price tag of less than £21,000.
For that you get a large, spacious vehicle which comes with switchable four-wheel-drive for dealing with bad weather or off-road work yet drives like a well honed sporting hatchback on the highway.
Under normal driving conditions the Vitara S operates in two-wheel-drive to save fuel but if the front wheels start to slip it puts drive to the rear wheels also, to ensure grip all round.
Operating in the standard auto mode saves fuel but if you want a sporting, more exhilarating drive you can switch to Sport to optimise engine response and cornering performance.
Keep the revs up and it’s surprising just how quick and sportscar-like the Vitara S is thanks to the new turbocharged Boosterjet engine.
Away from the highway if you do happen to get stuck off-road you can lock the wheels to get you out of trouble with the help of a limited slip differential.
In fact that’s the nice thing about this car. It delivers performance on the road and plenty of torque and grip off-road, making it a very easy car to like.
Despite its sensible price tag the Vitara S comes with features like satellite navigation, one of the sharpest colour reversing cameras I have ever seen, adaptive cruise control and a hill descent system all as standard.
Safety features include everything from seven air bags to a Radar Support System which scans the road ahead and warns you visually and audibly if you are about to collide with something in your path and applies the brakes if you ignore the warning.
Despite the same body shell external changes make the S version look totally different to its larger engined sibling. The 1.6 version looking more Range Rover Evoque-like with the S looking more youthful.
The differences include the fitting of a vertical honeycombed grille, gloss black 17-inch alloys and an upper rear spoiler, all of which give a totally different image.
The interior too has a young look with red air conditioning vents and red surrounds on the instrument dials – to contrast with the silver and black dashboard – as well as red stitching on the trendy sports seats.
This Vitara is sharp and lively when it comes to town and country driving and comfortable at high speeds on the motorway.
For value for money it has to be up there with the best of the best and is certainly worth a serious test drive.
Model: Suzuki Vitara S Boosterjet
Mechanical : 1,373cc, 140 bhp petrol engine driving all wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox.
Max speed: 124 mph
0-62mph : 10.2 secs
Combined mpg: 52.3
CO2 emissions: 127 g/km
Warranty: 3 years/ 100,000 miles