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Curvy contender; Enda Mullen drives the Suzuki Vitara 1.6 SZ5.

SUZUKI may not sell vast numbers of cars in the UK, but head across the Channel to Europe and they are far more plentiful.

They're most profligate in alpine mountainous regions, chiefly because a lot of Suzukis offer fourwheel drive capability.

Smaller cars with four-wheel drive at one point were relatively few and far between but Suzuki has always been at the forefront of producing them.

Four-wheel drive options are now far more plentiful, though - it's no longer just the likes of Land Rover and Mitsubishi producing cavernous SUVs.

It's all down to the huge expansion of the SUV segment and the emergence of the crossover, and now there are SUVs and crossovers of all shapes and sizes to choose from.

Given Suzuki's experience and expertise in the smaller 4x4 market one would expect them to be pacesetters in the crossover market. So to the latest Vitara, a wellpositioned crossover that has nods to Suzuki's track record in producing smaller SUVs but with an eye also on the current crossover boom.

In line with market trends the Vitara is very much more crossover than SUV, moving away from the more rugged Grand Vitara it once produced.

More curvy than chunky, it offers an appealing profile that is both sporty and stylish.

Size-wise it's nice, kind of like an enlarged family hatchback or small estate, only one that sits a little bit higher off the road.

Therein lies the appeal of the crossover, a car that offers a higher driving position, SUV-inspired styling and - for those who want it - four-wheel drive.

In actual fact this car was a frontwheel drive model, although there is the option of Suzuki's excellent ALLGRIP four-wheel drive system if you want, or need it.

I expect the majority of crossovers sold are two-wheel rather than fourwheel drive variants.

Let's be honest, for most UK dayto-day motoring needs four-wheel drive isn't really needed.

Yes, we all remember that winter of a few years back when we had a bit more snow than normal and lots of people upgraded from two to four-wheel drive to be able to cope with such emergencies.

In terms of the smaller family car it's probably difficult to justify fourwheel drive as an essential, unless you include off-roading in your hobbies, live in an area where there's challenging rural terrain to tackle on a daily basis or need to tow a caravan or boat.

The Vitara is a nicely proportioned car both inside and out and has a decent-sized cabin that is pretty much up to the needs of a family.

When it comes to fit and finish, instrumentation and switchgear, it manages to mix ruggedness with simple sophistication quite nicely. Nothing fancy but perfectly acceptable and suitably user-friendly. | For deals across the Suzuki range contact Springfield Suzuki, Durham Road, Gateshead, tel: 0191 477 2323 or visit www.drivespringfield.com

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 4, 2016
Words:477
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