The Suzuki Vitara has been around for nearly 30 years and has sales worldwide of well over three million. It has always been one of my favourite 4x4s, with good looks and a no-nonsense package. Now it’s just got better.

Suzuki has updated those good looks, with smaller but more powerful engines giving it improved performance, better economy and smoother lines.

I tested the 1.4 direct injection petrol powered version in S trim level, which has good economy and range, combined with sprightly performance. There’s also 1.6 diesel or petrol-powered Vitaras available.

Unlike some of its competitors, the Grand Vitara is a true off-roader – much more than a grass and gravel vehicle. You can confidently take this vehicle over fields and muddy tracks and it won’t put a wheel wrong.

Purposeful 17 inch alloy wheels, high ground clearance, wheel arch extensions and a rear spoiler make the latest Vitara look purposeful and capable.

The 1.4 litre petrol unit pumps out 140 horsepower which, linked to an automatic gearbox, never feels overworked. If you want to use manual mode there are steering-wheel mounted paddles. It’s as brisk as you need and will take just 10 seconds to propel you from 0-60 mph.

The 1.4 petrol automatic Vitara will return a creditable 51.3 mpg in mixed driving – not bad for a fairly large vehicle. The manual version will give you slightly better economy.

The Vitara has always had a crisp, well laid out and comfortable interior and the latest version is no exception.  The suede seats  are large and supportive with a good range of adjustment. The steering wheel is also adjustable for reach. Instruments are clear and well laid out. The whole of the interior feels spacious, pleasant and light, even with black trim and upholstery.

The Suzuki’s all wheel drive makes for a stable and safe ride, although there is slight body roll on cornering. The Vitara feels glued to the road, but still provides light handling and driver involvement.

Equipment levels are high, and the price of the 1.4 automatic petrol version – at £22,249 – is competitive.

Standard equipment is impressive and includes alloy wheels, hill hold and hill descent control, six-speaker DAB digital radio with USB socket and Bluetooth connectivity, satellite navigation, electric, heated door mirrors, 60-40 split rear seat, double height luggage area, automatic air conditioning, leather trimmed steering wheel with steering wheel mounted controls, silver roof rails, front fog lamps, keyless ignition with automatic stop/start, map-reading lights, front and rear parking sensors with rear camera and all round electric windows.

It’s difficult to fault this car. It’s a very good all round effort which will keep the Vitara competitive for a while to come..

Motoring Reviews are bought to you courtesy of Midlands Business News and its Motoring Editor Ian Strachan of Ian Strachan Communications