A Suzuki Grand Vitara joined our fleet this month. Jim Nosrati at Heathrow Suzuki greeted us on arrival at their showroom on the A30 near Ashford and we were given a thorough handover of the car by salesman Karl Brown. [tl:gallery size=265×200]

Ours has a 1.9-litre diesel that produces reasonable power (127bhp) and good torque (221lb.ft). Its kerbweight of 1680kg means it will be able to tow vans weighing up to 1428kg under the 85% rule.

Despite the Grand Vitara’s modest price tag, you get climate control, cruise control, alloy wheels, CD player, leather seats and an electric sunroof as standard. Rear parking sensors and a sat-nav are available as dealer-fitted options at extra charge.

Suzuki’s combined mpg for the Grand Vitara is 40.4. That’s competitive for 4x4s of this size. This drops to the low-20s when towing on motorways. The CO2 emissions of 185 g/km are higher than that of similar cars such as the Volkswagen Tiguan (167g/km) and Subaru Forester (170g/km).

The Grand Vitara’s first task was to tow a Sprite Musketeer EB to Ferry Meadows Caravan Club Site in Peterborough for a Live-in test. The Musketeer’s MTPLM of 1291kg makes it a 77% match for the Grand Vitara and a good first test.

I was concerned that hitching up wouldn’t be easy when I saw the spare wheel on the back of the car, but the removable towbar the car is fitted with is longer than normal. This does mean you can feel the van more than usual while towing. The boot door is side-hinged, so the position of the spare wheel also meant the boot access is tricky when the towbar was in use.

With the van on the back, the Suzuki was a little sluggish off the mark but once it got up to speed it sat at 60mph comfortably. The ride is firm, and it transmits what the van is doing through the car, but the Suzuki was always in control. I’m now looking forward to testing the Grand Vitara with a heavier van.

Price £20,410
Power 127bhp @ 3750rpm
Torque 221lb.ft @ 2000rpm
Kerbweight 1680kg
Towing limit 2000kg
Towball limit 85kg