Since its introduction in 1988, Suzuki’s Vitara has become a highly successful car. That's despite the fact that neither the first-generation car, nor its replacement introduced in 1998, was a particularly competitive on-road performer. Against that they were attractive, well-priced and fairly good off-road.

That’s not good enough these days. The current Grand Vitara has to hold its head above water in a busy sector of the market, and while it offers more in the way of traditional off-roading hardware than its more modern rivals, the trade-off could be a lack of the sophistication now normal in the compact SUV class.

Granted, most more recent opposition is also more expensive, but the success of the sector shows that people are prepared to pay. This road test features the 2.0-litre petrol version with 138bhp, an engine now supplanted by a 166bhp 2.4. A 127bhp, 1.9-litre, Renault-sourced turbodiesel is also offered.

Top 5 Compact SUVs

  • A huge improvement over the old model and now among the class leaders

    BMW X3

    1
  • The new Land Rover Discovery Sport is the successor to the Freelander

    Land Rover Discovery Sport

    2
  • The Swede's XC60 compact SUV is a rival for Range Rover's Evoque

    Volvo XC60

    3
  • The Q5 is Audi's response to the Land Rover Freelander 2, BMW X3 and Volvo SC60

    Audi Q5

    4
  • Kia's seven-seat Sorento SUV is now in its third generation

    Kia Sorento

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    25 May 2015
    Track drive of Lamborghini's astonishing limited-run special, the Aventador LP750-4 Superveloce
  • First Drive
    21 May 2015
    The DS 5 is hard to pigeonhole but it works as a package. Impressive French-style long-range cruiser, albeit at strong money for an unproven brand
  • Car review
    21 May 2015
    The industry's biggest power makes a plug-in hybrid for the masses
  • First Drive
    21 May 2015
    The 4C improves, and the Spider is a good conversion, but it remains dynamically troubled and absurdly expensive
  • First Drive
    21 May 2015
    More traction and nothing separating Jag's monstrous V8 mouthpiece from your ears. It's the shoutiest, priciest F-Type on sale, but is it the best?