Small SUV-style 'Juke-genre' Crossover models are all the rage just at present. Every mainstream brand, it seems, must have one. Back in 2015, Suzuki offered customers in this sector the surprisingly light, lithe and fashionable Vitara.
This Japanese maker has been bringing us small 4x4s since the Seventies - and the Vitara name actually dates all the way back to 1988. A 'Juke-style' small Crossover model though - essentially little more than a supermini in a pair of hiking boots - is a very different thing. It certainly has little in common with the kind of properly capable small SUVs Suzuki is used to making - say for example, the old Grand Vitara this car replaced in 2015. As a result, in creating its take on compact Crossover motoring, the brand had to start from scratch - just like its rivals.
Still, clean-sheet thinking has its advantages and the Japanese marque certainly brought us plenty of that in its approach to this segment. Uniquely, one basic platform and a single set of mechanicals was used to bring buyers two Crossover models. On one side of your Suzuki showroom back in 2015 sat this fashionable Vitara, there to compete with supermini-based Crossovers playing to the trendy Nissan Juke and Renault Captur crowd. On the other, buyers were offered the slightly larger and rather more practical SX4 S-Cross model, which Suzuki rather ambitiously hoped would appeal to buyers of slightly larger, family-sized Crossovers like Nissan's Qashqai and Peugeot's 3008.
The Vitara proved to be a stronger seller than its stablemate, more the kind of youthful, dynamic-looking product that buyers of compact Crossover models wanted. On paper, it certainly seems to tick all the 'Juke-genre' boxes, with lifestyle looks, trendy cabin technology and supermini-standards of efficiency. It even claimed to be a rewarding steer on twisty tarmac, which really did make it different from small Suzuki SUVs of the past. There are familiar touches though: value pricing, high specifications and a 4WD option - something actually relatively unusual in this segment. The car sold until 2018 when it was facelifted and the range re-centred around Suzuki's petrol Boosterjet technology. It's the pre-facelifted 2015 to 2018-era Vitara models that we look at here as potential used buys.