A car that puts a smile on your face is well on its way to being a winner.

And the latest Vitara, the most technically advanced model Suzuki has produced to date, is guaranteed to generate a grin.

Practical, comfortable and packed with equipment, the Vitara is compact and easy to manage, blending good on-road performance with genuine off-road capability.

Priced from about £17,000, the car comes in three specifications with a choice of turbocharged petrol engines.

The car driven here, in top-grade SZ5 trim, came with all Suzuki’s latest technology, but standard equipment is high across the range, including alloy wheels, USB and Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control with speed limiter, automatic air conditioning, front and rear electric windows and seven airbags.

Power came from the punchier of the two petrol engines available, a 1.4-litre, 140 horsepower unit that delivers more power and torque than the outgoing 1.6-litre engine.

This lightweight performer was also fitted with optional four-wheel-drive, activated at the touch of a button, with different settings available depending on the conditions.

It is the real 4x4 competence that attracts some buyers to the Vitara, but if you don’t need it you don’t have to have it and that wide appeal is what makes it Suzuki’s most successful model.

Its external dimensions make light work of round-town driving, with parking aided by front and rear sensors and a rear-view camera.

It is just as comfortable on long runs, thanks to big supportive seats, a quiet relaxed ride and taut handling.

There is plenty of space for five on board with a chunky, split-floor boot space. Inside, seats are upholstered in suede and the upper instrument panel is upgraded to a soft-touch material with the instrument cluster featuring a central colour information display.

The test car came with a host of equipment from LED projector headlights, 17-inch polished alloy wheels, keyless entry with start button, traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control and a twin-panel panoramic glass sunroof.

A really handy system that helps when reversing out of parking spaces is rear cross traffic alert, which uses two rear-mounted radar sensors to alert you to approaching vehicles on either side.

The test car was also fitted with dual sensor brake support which monitors the road ahead and if it spots a risk of collision, delivers both an audio and visual warning. If there is a high risk of collision and you brake hard, the system activates brake assist, increasing braking force. If the risk of a collision increases even more, the system applies full automatic braking in an effort to avoid the collision or reduce damage.

Another system can detect if the driver starts to become drowsy. If the car starts to weave, a warning buzzer sounds, and an indicator lights up on the instrument panel.

If the car leaves its lane without a turn signal being used, yet another system vibrates the steering wheel, lights a warning indicator and automatically turns the steering wheel to nudge the car back into its right lane.

All this technology is unobtrusive and works quietly away in the background and once you have experienced it you are left with a real sense of reassurance.

And when the car comes in dual-tone bright metallic Solar Yellow Pearl, there’s even more reason to smile.

Auto facts

Model: Suzuki Vitara 1.4 SZ5 Boosterjet ALLGRIP

Price: £24,899

Insurance group: 17E

Fuel consumption (combined): 46.3mpg

Top speed: 124mph

Length: 417.5cm/164in

Width: 177.5cm/69.7in

Luggage capacity: 375 litres/13.2 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 10.3 gallons/47 litres

CO2 emissions: 139g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles