Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Do not expect to be blown away with the Suzuki Grand Vitara performance levels. Two petrols engines were available at launch – a 1.6 VVT with 105bhp and a 140bhp 2.0-litre petrol. Both offer adequate performance and cruise well at speed, but suffer from a lack of pulling power between 30-60mph, which can make overtaking a drawn-out affair.

In 2008, a 2.4-litre petrol engine was introduced to replace the 2.0-litre and the newer unit is smoother and quieter. It also has better low down grunt and feels more sprightly when accelerating with a 0-62mph time of 11.7 seconds (11.2 seconds in the three-door), yet CO2 emissions remain unchanged while economy is a respectable 32mpg.

Diesel engine

A 1.9 DDiS diesel, supplied by Renault, with 130bhp became available from late-2005. It gets to 62mph in 13.2 seconds (12.9 seconds in the three-door) and has decent pulling power in-gear. In the Grand Vitara it’s twinned with a five-speed manual gearbox, but it although it performs well, engine noise becomes intrusive at a steady 70mph.

Parkers recommends

Normally we’d be recommending the 1.9-litre turbodiesel without question, but it’s only offered in the top spec five-door Suzuki Grand Vitara, so it’s either the 1.6 in the three-door model or the 2.4 petrol in the five-door on cost grounds.

This is a vast improvement on the previous model. The steering is sharper and body roll is kept much more under control while cornering, even at speed, is quite flat. Although it’s the not the sportiest or most enjoyable drive around, the Grand Vitara does everything that most buyers will ask of it competently. The gearchange can be a little notchy at times, but otherwise there’s a precise feel to the changes.

The ride is much better than the old Grand Vitara, which was unsophisticated and often uncomfortable, but is still firmer than that offered by similar 4x4s. But with good axle articulation and a low ratio gearbox, it should meet the off-road needs of most buyers.