The Suzuki Vitara is a no-fuss crossover that’s perfect for a growing family, but alternatives look more luxurious inside
If you’re looking for an affordable car with a high driving position that’s good fun to drive, the Suzuki Vitara is a great choice. Its bold looks mean you won’t lose it in a car park and there’s loads of space for carrying passengers, too.
Unlike the Honda HR-V and Peugeot 2008, the Suzuki Vitara doesn’t look like a pumped-up family hatchback on stilts. Instead, it looks more like a boxy old-school off-roader – especially from the side – and comes with plenty of chunky plastic trims designed to protect its bodywork from bumps and scrapes.
Things get a little sportier at the front, where some red trims inject a little colour into the Suzuki’s angular headlights and a pair of upturned fog light surrounds make it look like it’s wearing a comedy moustache disguise.
These fun little details continue inside, too. There are splashes of red on the air vents and steering wheel, alongside a few slabs of shiny metal effect plastic on the dashboard and doors. Sadly, while it might look cool, the Suzuki’s numerous hard plastics and brittle trims feel more like they belong propping up an Ikea bookshelf than taking pride of place in a funky SUV’s cabin.
It’s a similar story with the Suzuki Vitara’s infotainment system, which looks more Fisher-Price than iPhone but at least that means it’s a doddle to use. It gets all the smartphone mirroring features you’ll need to use a bunch of apps safely while you’re driving, too.
It’s equally easy to pack the Suzuki Vitara with plenty of passengers – and their luggage. There’s more space in the back than you get in a Peugeot 2008 and Honda HR-V and the boot’s plenty big enough for a huge weekly shop or a family’s luggage for a week or so away.
Don’t think Suzuki’s forgotten about front-seat space, though. Every Vitara comes with height-adjustment so you can tower over traffic even if you’re rather short. Its big windows give you a great view out, too.
Pick the Vitara if you want an enjoyable small SUV that can actually go off road
All this makes it very easy to drive around town. The standard manual gearbox is easy to use and the steering’s nice and light which helps make squeezing into tight parking spaces and dodging through traffic pretty much stress-free.
That being said, it’s not quite as comfortable or as quiet as a Honda HR-V or Peugeot 2008 and the diesel engine sounds a bit clattery when you accelerate hard. The petrol models are much smoother and feel perkier, but they are a little thirstier on long motorway drives.
The Suzuki’s party-piece is how surprisingly good fun it is to drive – for a tall SUV, at least. It barely leans in tight corners and has masses of grip which gives you the confidence to drive it like a hot hatch on your favourite stretch of winding country road – if that’s your sort of thing.
This doesn’t quite make up for the Vitara’s rather cheap-feeling cabin, but at least it helps it stand out from the crowd of more expensive and pretty dull-to-drive SUVs. On the subject of price, see how much you can save on our Suzuki Vitara deals page or read our interior, practicality driving and specifications sections for more in-depth info.