The steep back roads of West Bowling can be a challenge for any vehicle in wintry weather.

But it was here where the Suzuki Vitara’s four wheel drive system came into its own, proving more than a match for Bradford’s snowy suburban slopes.

Last week’s seasonal sprinkling may have been tame in comparison to the 2018 beast from the east, but it did at least present a chance to properly test the much-heralded ALLGRIP system in relatively tricky Yorkshire conditions.

In hoisting itself up Hall Lane, perfecting Parkside Road and relishing Raymond Street, the Vitara proved itself to be a very capable and versatile machine.

Its sure-footed handling is underpinned by a hydraulic clutch, which is positioned in front of the rear differential and uses high-viscosity silicone oil to transfer drive power.

At the risk of descending into technical tedium, when the front and rear wheels start to go round at a different speed to each other, a shear effect caused by wheel spin heats the silicone oil and causes it to expand. The resulting pressure engages a multiple-disc clutch, which transfers torque to the rear wheels and helps you re-establish full control of the car.

Stopping briefly at the top end of Bowling Park to ponder these mechanical mysteries and look across the snow-capped city, another thing struck me - the Vitara is a rather smart-looking piece of metal these days!

Indeed, it has been given an appealing facelift for 2019, with the lower part of the front bumper being redesigned and a new grille being introduced, with vertical, rather than horizontal, slats.

The old rear lamps have also been replaced by new LED lights, while smart new alloy wheels complete the updated look.

As before, muscular creases in the bonnet and along the side of the bodywork give the car a purposeful appearance.

Possibly the most significant update is to the Vitara’s engine line-up.

The old 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated unit has been ditched, making way for a 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder motor, which has been receiving positive press to date.

In line with current trends, the diesel engine has been dropped from the range, but the previous 1.4-litre petrol remains and is tested here.

Offering 138bhp and a 0-62mph time of just over ten seconds, the Boosterjet unit offers plenty of pull with limited lag.

There’s also a nice blend of performance and economy, with average fuel consumption coming in at a fairly healthy 46.3mpg.

Steering is trustworthy, but arguably a little light, while body roll in corners is well-contained.

Once inside this compact five-seat SUV, it’s not difficult to get comfortable as the supportive driver’s seat adjusts for height, while the steering wheel adjusts for height and reach.

The SZ5 spec, tested here, gets lots of upmarket upgrades, including an impressive integrated sat-nav and a touchscreen display. You also get Smartphone Link, while a panoramic sunroof adds to the cabin’s pleasant ambience.

There’s plenty of space in the back of the car, while rear seats that split and fold 60/40 offer you bags of extra luggage space when needed.

In conclusion, the Vitara, built in Magyar, Hungary, is pretty easy to live with.

It offers great practicality and versatility thanks to its roominess, impressive four-wheel drive system and a nicely-powered petrol engine.

What you may have to watch is the price.

Suzuki has rightly developed a reputation for providing value for money and the current Vitara range starts from under £17,000.

However, it’s worth noting that climbing the Vitara trim trail could result in an outlay north of £25,000 for this top of the range model, which brings it into competition with some illustrious opponents.

Suzuki Vitara SZ5 4W

ENGINE TYPE: 1.4 Boosterjet 16-valve four-cylinder

OTR PRICE: £25,099 as tested, with options

COMBINED MPG: 46.3 (6.1)


MAX. SPEED: 124mph

ACCELERATION: 0-62mph in10.2 seconds