Small SUVs have become hugely popular with family buyers, mixing practicality and ease of use with rugged looks and rudimentary off-road capabilities. The Suzuki Vitara, Honda HR-V and Peugeot 2008 are some of the best in the class, but which should you go for? Read our head to head group test to find out…
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Suzuki Vitara vs Honda HR-V vs Peugeot 2008 prices
The Peugeot 2008 has the lowest entry-level price, with basic models costing £13,615. The Suzuki Vitara is a little more expensive at £13,999 but the Honda HR-V is a considerable amount more. Bottom spec HR-Vs start from £18,495.
Of the three, taking power, price and equipment levels into account, the Suzuki comes out on top as the best value. However, the top-of-the-range S version costs more than £20,000, so the mid-spec SZ-T is the best of the bunch at around £17,000.
All these small SUVS come with cruise control and air conditioning as standard, but the 2008’s lowest trim level doesn’t come with alloy wheels or other styling flourishes – helping it sneak below its rivals pricing.
Suzuki Vitara vs Honda HR-V vs Peugeot 2008 styling
The recently updated 2008 is the arguably most upmarket looking of the three with a new, larger grille, bulky wheelarch trim, scuff plates and new ‘3D’ brakelights. The Peugeot badge prominently features on the grille, which can be chosen in black.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Vitara features the boxiest styling. Some buyers will be put off by this but most will find the rugged image gives the small SUV a certain charm and added character. In top-spec S trim, it has an even sportier look thanks to flashes of red trim and unique bumpers.
The Honda’s styling is more futuristic with sharp lines, bold shapes and disguised rear door handles that give the HR-V the hint of three-door coupe poise. To our eyes, it doesn’t look quite as upmarket as the 2008 and can’t match the Vitara for ruggedness, instead sitting somewhere in the middle.
Suzuki Vitara vs Honda HR-V vs Peugeot 2008 interior
The Vitara’s rugged exterior design continues in the interior, but isn’t quite as well realised. The cabin materials and plastics feel rough and of low quality, although the build quality itself is flawless. It’s simply and ergonomically laid out and also has the easiest touchscreen infotainment system to use of the bunch.
In comparison, the Honda has a much more premium feel, with better quality plastics and cool features such as driving dials that appear when the ignition is turned on and a touchscreen panel for the climate control. It’s not particularly easy to use but is a nice, high-tech touch. Sadly, the infotainment system is very poor – it’s unresponsive and unintuitive to use with a confusing layout.
The Peugeot feels perfectly solid inside, featuring pleasant materials and a handful of styling touches to lift the ambiance. The cabin may be minimalistic but the infotainment system, which isn’t standard on lower trim levels, is hard to use thanks to its unresponsive screen and irritating virtual climate controls. Some drivers find the oddly small steering wheel can obscure the dials depending on its position.
Suzuki Vitara vs Honda HR-V vs Peugeot 2008 practicality
The HR-V is respectably practical. A wide door opening and plenty of space makes it brilliant for fitting child seats and the Magic Seat system lets you store tall objects upright. Rear knee and legroom is good, but headroom is comparatively poor and the narrow body means it’s tight in the back for three people. However, the 453-litre boot and plentiful cubby spaces are impressive.
The Suzuki has a decent 375 boot – good enough for most but can’t quite match the HR-V and 2008. It has some nice touches such as parcel shelf storage under the floor and no loading lip, while cubby spaces are plentiful too. In the cabin, the boxy shape makes it the most bearable for carrying three in the rear. There’s plenty of head and legroom throughout but the narrow door openings make fitting a car seat trickier than rivals here.
The Peugeot’s cubby and glovebox space isn’t quite so strong, but the 410-litre boot is second best of the three and the sliding and reclining rear seats add a practical touch. However, limited headroom and the narrow body means room in the back isn’t great, making it the worst in this test for transporting three passengers in the back. Narrow door openings and hidden isofix anchors mean fitting a child seat is tougher than it needs to be.
Suzuki Vitara vs Honda HR-V vs Peugeot 2008 engines
The Suzuki’s 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine tested in the video makes for a fun driving experience and averaged 41mpg. That engine is an expensive option, however, so the non-turbo 1.6-litre petrol is probably nippy enough for most and keeps the costs down. The diesel option has a bit more punch and will probably be the better option if you cover very high mileages or tow regularly.
The HR-V has a more limited range of engines, with the 1.5-litre petrol being tested in the video. It only managed an average of 38.9mpg and didn’t quite have the same sporty feel as the Vitara. The 1.6-litre diesel is better suited to city driving and offers up better fuel economy. While the snappy manual gearbox is one of the best on the market, the CVT automatic gearbox is one of the worst – it’s sluggish and creates a huge din during anything but the gentlest acceleration.
The Peugeot was fitted with the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine. Despite having just three cylinders, it’s a peppy unit and surprisingly quiet compared to the other two cars. It delivered a respectable 44mpg, too. There are a couple of diesels to choose from and they’re slightly more expensive but are among the most efficient non-electric powertrains you can buy.
Suzuki Vitara vs Honda HR-V vs Peugeot 2008 driving
The Vitara is the only car of the three to come with optional four-wheel drive but, while it may be better for more extreme off-roading, our light off-road course wasn’t extreme enough to reveal differences between the three. On the road, the Vitara is great fun to drive – it feels like a high-riding hot hatch, not a small SUV. It feels poised and comfortable on the road putting it in a completely different league to the other two.
The Honda isn’t quite as refined or as fun to drive as the Suzuki but feels more comfortable and quiet in manual models. The CVT automatic gearbox we tested in the video makes a strange noise and slightly ruins the otherwise agreeable driving experience. Rear visibility is also an issue thanks to a large rear pillar creating a sizeable blindspot.
The 2008 doesn’t have the sporty edge the Vitara has or the slick and responsive controls of the Honda, but it still has a lot going for it. The suspension is supple, making it great over bumps and driving around town. There’s a bit of wind whistle on faster roads but, overall, it’s a good car to travel in and is generally inoffensive to drive.
Suzuki Vitara vs Honda HR-V vs Peugeot 2008 verdict
While the Peugeot looks the most upmarket and the Honda is the most innovative, the Suzuki hits the spot with its cheeky charm and fun yet composed driving experience. Its chunky looks and good levels of practicality make it a strong family car choice and the low price and decent levels of standard equipment mean it represents brilliant value for money.
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