Parkers overall rating: 2 out of 5 2.0

Only a 1.6 8v unit was available when the Vitara was launched in 1988. Performance from this unit isn't fast: 0-60 comes in 16 seconds and it has a top speed of 93mph. The five-door, launched in 1991, benefited from a 1.6 with 16 valves, bringing the 0-60 time down to 14.5 seconds; this unit didn't make it into the three-door or soft-top as standard until 1994.

The smooth 2.0 V6 with 134bhp arrived in 1995 and had more urge than the 1.6 models. A (Mazda-powered) turbo diesel went on sale in January 1996.

Handling is how you'd expect from a 4x4 dating from the 1980s. Steering is slow and it can be hard work to park - especially on early models without power steering. Four-wheel-drive is switchable, which means that it's two-wheel-drive on the road; four-wheel-drive is selected through a separate gearbox when needed. The ride is exceptionally harsh, especially at lower speeds, which is only made worse with bigger wheels.