Even the Vitara RT-S is fun to drive, especially when its 1.6 petrol engine is teamed with the manual gearbox. The auto also pleases however, as it shifts quickly and at just at the right time.
If you plan to go touring in your Vitara, you’ll have even more fun in an S Turbo or the RT-X Diesel.
The S Turbo exhibits very little turbo-lag (that dead feeling when you first press the accelerator with a turbocharged engine), instead bounding forward energetically with a gentle squeeze from the right foot.
The RT-X Diesel feels even more relaxed when you’re cruising, and on the highway its auto gearbox feels slicker. The diesel is just pipped by the S Turbo at high speeds when maximum acceleration is called for – perhaps when overtaking another car.
Keen drivers will prefer either all-wheel drive Vitara to the front-drive versions as they steer more precisely. All could benefit from more steering feel at low speeds.
Thankfully, the feel improves the harder you push a Vitara through corners. And there’s good balance and grip on smooth roads – again, especially in AWD versions.
On most surfaces, the ride is acceptably supple. However big bumps taken at speed sometimes unsettle the Vitara, requiring a steering correction.
All-wheel drive helps the most expensive Vitaras on unsealed roads, in the snow, on farm tracks and on easy fire trails. However, the relatively low-profile tyres are potentially damage prone.
And you wouldn’t want to venture far from civilisation with only the standard, skinny, space-saver spare wheel.