SUZUKI'S new five-door compact SUV, under the revived Vitara name, is certainly a big step up for the company in terms of quality finish, technical ability and mechanicals.

Scotland has always been a strong market for Suzuki, backed by some solid dealerships, so this wee newcomer will be like manna from heaven for them to bolster what was, for a while at least, a bit of a flagging brand. The original Vitara - it was first brought to the UK 25 years ago - was a solid success for Suzuki, winning a lot of rural customers with its own little no-nonsense approach to providing an affordable 4 x 4.

This latest Vitara, though, has already won a band of followers since being launched last spring and more than 5000 have been sold in the UK since launch.

Of course now it has followed the rest of the 'soft-roader' band and has a two-wheel-drive variant, but for rural users there's only really option of a 4 x 4. For now, that's available with the option of two 1.6-litre engines - a petrol or a DDiS diesel, with both rated at 118bhp.

They are both pretty frugal, though you would never describe them as 'exciting'. A long trip on the model tested, the diesel, produced a pretty useful mpg of more than 50 - which, as usual, is a little less than claimed in the sales' brochures. But that's a pretty acceptable figure and for those who pay tax on it, the low CO2 emission levels of 106g/km on the diesel will be welcome, though the petrol is slightly higher at 123 g/km.

Where these little Suzuki's score is on price as the range starts at just £13,999 for the bottom grade, SZ4 petrol version with two-wheel-drive, while the top of the heap is the SZ5 AllGrip diesel-powered variant at £21,299.

This intelligent four-wheel drive system is an option on SZ5 models, as is a six-speed auto transmission in place of the six-speed manual tested on the diesel. The petrol, for some strange reason, has a five-speed manual.

There's also plenty of added value in the inventory of the specifications and even the entry level SZ4 has seven airbags, 16-inch alloy wheels, DAB radio with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control with speed limiter, auto air conditioning, front and rear electric windows and projector headlamps.

Move up to the SZ-T and you get 17-inch silver painted alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, Smartphone link audio and navigation system, while the SZ5 spec' ( as tested) adds LED projector headlights, 17-inch polished alloy wheels, suede seat fabric, keyless entry with start button, adaptive cruise control, radar brake support and panoramic sunroof.

That adaptive cruise control proved a 'good thing' while on a long trip north on the A9 as it took out the drudgery of the frustration of averaging 45mph stuck behind large trucks for large stretches. It kept the vehicle a safe distance behind the traffic, but automatically sped up to the road limit once the coast was clear.

That was certainly an ideal benefit and it made me think that this would be an ideal add-on to the spec' on any car for those users who regularly do this north/south drive.

As for the driving experience itself, the Vitara is pretty competent in most areas, though the gearbox does have that slightly agricultural feel to it that Suzuki seems to have perfected. While the gearchange is not the slickest, the 1.6 engine certainly proved capable of hauling the Vitara around quite well and it felt a solid citizen on the road.

Off the road, the AllGrip system on 4 x 4 models is good enough for most surfaces and, it has to be said, that the light weight of the Vitara allow it go a lot of places that you wouldn't expect a soft roader of this ilk to venture in to.

The exterior look is quite sharp too, and two new vibrant colours, Atlantis Turquoise Pearl Metallic and Horizon Orange Metallic, will certainly make you stand out from the crowd if that is your wish.

For those with more serious intentions off road, a £500 option is the 'Rugged' package of front and rear skid plates, fog lamp bezels, body-side mouldings, and loading edge protection. ­— From January, a 'hotter' version of the Vitara, the S model, will be available. This has a brand new 1.4-litre engine - the first to get Suzuki's new 'Boosterjet' technology - and is rated at 137bhp, with the direct injection turbocharged engine (DITC) giving a wide spread of torque available from just 1500rpm.

Trim specification includes gloss black 17-inch alloy wheels, rear upper spoiler, satin silver door mirrors and red interior stitching - these are priced at £20,899 for the manual and £22,249 for the auto version.