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Even at around 1000rpm on fifth gear, the engine still feels calm and confident, which is good. At idle the engine is neither heard nor felt. Some tyre noise is present at higher speeds, but the cabin is well insulated from noise.

Even at around 1000rpm on fifth gear, the engine still feels calm and confident, which is good. At idle the engine is neither heard nor felt. Some tyre noise is present at higher speeds, but the cabin is well insulated from noise.

Stephen Mbuthi @SteveGears

In the interest of being partial, I have to state that my daily driver is a 1994 Suzuki JLX, a car that I love and loath in equal measure. It is, for all intents and purposes, a mountain goat capable of carrying four adults, through terrain that would humble more expensive cars.

It’s a simple car that simply does a good job, simple as that. That simplicity translates into reliability since there’s very little to go wrong.

Everything is mechanical, no power steering, no power windows, no central locking and when you put on the air con you can almost imagine some little people who live in the dashboard hurriedly lighting a bonfire and fanning the warm air through the vents.

The ride quality varies with terrain; it can be anything from gentle rocking on a smooth highway to what feels like being kicked by a drunken donkey. It is no luxury car by any measure, but I love it because it never goes wrong and on the few occasions it has, I have been able to get it going in a few minutes despite my limited mechanical expertise.

I knew as I got the keys to the 2015 descendant that this was going to be more of the same. It is still recognisably a Vitara, which is to say that it neither pleases nor offends the senses, like a plain sheet of white A4 paper, except in this case it was brown.

Suzuki, like Daihatsu, are masters of making a small car feel roomy on the inside and the 2015 Vitara does this exceptionally well, offering significantly more luggage capacity than the Mazda CX-3 – over 100 litres more, in a smaller car!

All the controls are where they should be and are easy to use, even down to the indicator stalk and combined auto headlight switch on the right of the steering column. The Vitara in manual RT-S form offers very slick shifting, thanks to the lever and its light, positive shift action.

Clutch take-up was the right height too. This is important because you will be using it a lot to counter the somewhat leisurely manner the 1.6 litre engine delivers power. I appreciate a smooth manual and enjoyed it but I would image it would become tiresome for others not similarly inclined, in which case you should go for the automatic.

Well-made interior

While it won’t tear the asphalt with its performance, there’s enough torque on low revs for short shifting in city driving while brakes, clutch and steering provide good feedback. The engine does get a bit noisy in the higher revs but never in a socially unacceptable way.

Even at around 1000rpm on fifth gear, the engine still feels calm and confident, which is good. At idle the engine is neither heard nor felt. Some tyre noise is present at higher speeds, but the cabin is well insulated from noise.

The interior is well made, fees sturdy, with no sign of glaring panel gaps; the doors closed quietly but securely and there were no mismatched colours. The plastics are hard and durable probably as a nod to the outdoorsy heritage of the Vitara rather than nice to the touch as you would expect in a small SUV.

The 2015 Vitara has gone from being a rugged, no-nonsense off-roader to being more of a ‘lifestyle’ SUV, with the focus on trendiness rather than toughness. The Vitara is decently practical and comfortable for four tall adults, unlike the aforementioned JLX, which would require the ones at the back to cut a few inches off their legs.

The narrowness of the middle seat and the cabin as a whole, mean that a fifth should only come on board in emergencies. The boot is competitively sized and a false floor offers a hidden storage compartment. However, the backrests lie at an angle, so the extended cargo bay isn’t completely flat.

The one thing I really didn’t like was the space saver spare and the softened looks but I guess time moves on. The 2015 Vitara stays true to its roots while adapting to the modern requirements of a small SUV, something most models are unable to pull off successfully.

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