FUN and funky, the new Suzuki Vitara is all about choice, your choice, and a colourful choice at that.
With 13 colour combinations, including eight two-tone options, the world is your, well, rainbow and you can splash the colour on the inside, too, for a look that is entirely your own.
The high level of personalisation, which stretches to exterior body packages, is just one of the drawcards of this new SUV, which also manages to combine technological advances with a popular compact size.
This is an important release for Suzuki as it looks for a larger piece of the ever-growing SUV market, with the company striving for 3.4 million total global car sales by 2019.
Buyers have the choice of the Vitara 2WD GL+ available with either a manual or auto transmission or the 4WD GLX in auto only. Both boast a high level of standard features, with the GLX also equipped for some off-road action.
The higher ride position, adjustable steering column and fairly supportive seating make it easy to find optimum driving comfort.
The central dash strip, instrument surrounds and centre trim can be personalised too to match the exterior, which adds a nice burst of colour to an otherwise conservative scheme.
A large central clock takes pride of place, with a seven-inch touchscreen below and the usual dials and buttons placed with logic and functionality in mind.
There are two cup holders just behind the gear shifter and bottle holders in the front and rear door bins with storage options also stretching to rear seat pockets, a smallish glove box and decent boot space (375 litres).
On the road
Both the GL+ and GLX spec sport the same 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, a lusty and able unit paired with a five-speed manual or six-speed auto transmission.
The GLX is also equipped with Suzuki's all-wheel-drive ALLGRIP system which allows the driver to choose from Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock mode depending on how the conditions present.
The Vitara is an eager participant, sticking to the road with ease and offering a decent ride both in traffic and at speed.
It is sometimes slow to change direction, as is the case with SUVs, and the suspension feels a tad on the firm side but it is happy to plough on through with the all-wheel-drive capability of the GLX showing its mettle on slippery wet roads during our test drive.
The small engine can labour up long steep inclines, whining a little with exertion, but it settles down once it finds its stride.
The Vitara's off-road capability is one of its huge selling points and we look forward to testing that out when we have it for a week later this year.
What do you get?
Suzuki has opted for a high level of specification, paired with a host of standard convenience features on the models offered here. The list includes a 7-inch multifunction infotainment system with smart phone interface, reverse camera, sat nav, climate control, push button start, auto headlights and wipers, 17-inch alloys and LED daytime running lights.
The GLX adds a panoramic sunroof, the all-wheel-drive system, suede trim and parking sensors.
The Vitara has a five-star Euro NCAP rating thanks to suite of active and passive systems - seven airbags, anti-lock brake system, stability and traction control, brake assist, hill-hold assist and hill-descent control.
Official figures have the 2WD manual returning 5.8l/100km, the 2WD auto at 6.0l/100km and 6.3l/100km for the AWD auto, which is pleasing on the wallet. Suzuki offers a three-year or 100,000km warranty and fixed-price servicing for five years. Expect to pay about $249 for an ordinary service and $295 for a major one.
It would also be worth your while to have a look at the Nissan Juke (from $23,490), Ford EcoSport (from $22,290) Renault Captur (from $22,990), Holden Trax (from $23,990) and Peugeot 2008 (from $21,990).
A squarish high-sided design allows a fair bit of head and leg room for rear passengers, while the wide boot opening with adjustable floor is quite handy for loading your gear - both important considerations if you want your Vitara to be versatile.
The four-mode, all-wheel-drive system is uncomplicated and easy to use. The Auto option is built for fuel efficiency, keeping the car in 2WD until it detects wheel spin with Sport altering the acceleration and torque characteristics at low and mid-range speed.
Snow uses 4WD as default for extra traction on slippery surfaces and Mud puts the car in Lock and distributes high torque to all wheels with grip to get you out of a tricky off the bitumen situation.
Aside from the trademark chrome grille and clamshell bonnet the new Vitara looks different from its predecessor with longer, flatter lines and a more rounded rear end.
You can accentuate its appearance by opting for one of two body styling packages - the Urban package which includes smaller fog lamp bezels, shallow body side moulding and a rear roof spoiler, and the Rugged package that features front and rear skid plates, cargo loading protector and larger side body moulding and fog lamp bezels.
Given the Vitara's long successful history in this country, this new and attractive player should spark interest.
A new design, better inclusions and a personalisation catalogue to really make it your own merely sweetens the deal.
It could do with a touch more power but is an attractive prospect in city surrounds, with the AWD GLX more than capable should you stray off the bitumen.
What matters most
What we liked: Versatility, excellent inclusions list, funky personalisation
What we'd like to see: A diesel option here, a bit more power
Warranty and servicing: 3-year/100,000km warranty and 5-year capped-price servicing.
Model: Suzuki Vitara.
Details: Five-door two-wheel-drive or four-wheel drive compact SUV.
Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 86kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 156Nm @ 4400rpm.
Transmission: Five-speed manual or six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 5.8 litres/100km combined for 2WD manual, 6l/100km for 2WD auto, 6.3l/100km for 4WD auto.
Bottom line: from $22,990 (GL+ manual), $24,990 (GL+ auto), $33,990 (GLX auto).
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.