The Vitara comes with four-wheel-drive, a system that offers an array of transmission settings that allow you to modify the setup so that it suits your mood and the conditions. You can flick through Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock. In Auto, the car reverts to two-wheel-drive in order to save fuel.
It’s an easy car to drive, with light steering a major plus. The engines? A 1.6-litre petrol unit misses out on turbochargers, but with 118bhp it still delivers a satisfying amount of performance. It can climb ascents with ease, and copes well on a full load. Work it hard, though, and it will make a noise.
The turbocharged 138bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine offers more power, and does 0-62 in just 10.2 seconds before maxing out at 124mph. But it’s the 1.6-litre diesel that’s a contentious one. It’s cheaper to run than the petrols, and has a respectable zero-to-62mph time of 11.5 seconds. And while you don’t need to work it hard to get the best out of it, it makes more noise than the Juke.
It’s also the only engine that’s two-wheel-drive. This weakens its grip, but it means fuel economy is an impressive 70.6mpg at best.
However, it’s likely that you’ll average 60mpg. And because the turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine returns 52.3mpg and costs the same to tax (£140 a year), it might make more sense than the diesel.
Inside, the Suzuki Vitara looks neat and tidy. All models are quieter than the Juke, and its ride quality is good. There are some nice touches too, with the S model getting red stitching on the steering wheel and seats. Build quality is faultless, but there is evidence of cost-cutting here and there. Poorer plastics let the cabin down somewhat, although there is also a good amount of soft-touch plastics, too.
Is it practical? A good design job has improved its usability. The light doors make for easy access, opening to 90 degrees. The high seating position makes for good visibility, while the steering wheel adjusts for both rake and reach.
Headroom is good for all, with the cars sporty roofline not getting in the way. Back seat legroom is also good, while storage space includes bottle-holders, cup-holders, bins – and a small glove box.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 375-litres. Fold the rear seats and you can extend that to 1,160-litres.
Nissan – £14,900 – £23,300
Suzuki – £15,500 – £25,400