A FAMILY camping holiday on Yorkshire’s glorious East Coast and amid the surrounding moors provided ample opportunity to test the Suzuki Vitara in a variety of situations – and I came to three conclusions.

Firstly, it doesn’t use much fuel. That’s important with current petrol prices, yeah? This recently-introduced full hybrid version has a claimed average fuel economy of 53mpg – and it came surprisingly close to that figure cruising along the A64 through North Yorkshire. A reassuring start to the holiday from a financial point of view, for sure. In Scarborough’s stop-start traffic as we attempted to make the start of play on the second day of Yorkshire’s cricket match against Hampshire at North Marine Road, the hybrid engine really came into its own, providing swift and eco-friendly acceleration in the urban environment.

Bicester Advertiser: Thankfully, Claude Greengrass stayed out of view just long enough for this picture (top left) to be captured in Goathland, or should that be Aidensfield? ... probably not. Left, the Vitara basks in the North Yorkshire sun during a lovely summer evening

Secondly, it’s a seriously practical and robust family car. The square and hugely functional boot easily swallowed our large tent, lots of bags, four camping chairs and other essentials. Indeed, it accommodated so many items that the kids in the back seats had the rare luxury of not having to sit on or under a load of duvets - and didn’t have a stack of bags separating them on the back row.

Thirdly, and this is the one I didn’t expect, this city-orientated vehicle is really quite capable on rural and twisty roads. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say ‘putting the fun in functional’ - but it’s certainly heading in that direction!

Finding myself near a heritage railway station at the bottom of an especially ferocious hill in a place called Levisham - a remote part of the North Yorkshire Moors - I wasn’t fancying my chances of climbing said hill in a timely manner.

Even less so when the automatic gearbox fumbled a little - perhaps in surprise at the gradient - and selected the wrong gear. That minor stutter forgotten, the Vitara’s 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol hybrid engine got into its stride and, with trustworthy handling over a couple of cattle grids and round some sharp bends, reached the summit in a respectable time.

Bicester Advertiser: The interior of a Vitara

In the current move towards greener cars, you can’t blame Suzuki for going a step further with the electrification of this popular compact crossover.

The Vitara was already available as a mild hybrid - but the Japanese manufacturer’s introduction of a full hybrid version seems to strike the right note.

The powertrain combines a new 1.5-litre normally-aspirated petrol engine with a 140V lithium-ion battery which adds an extra 33bhp, with the electric motor filling in torque gaps during gear changes.

On the twisty uphill down-dale roads around Goathland and Grosmont – made famous by the TV series Heartbeat – it felt like a right-powered engine for the type of vehicle, offering just enough grunt when needed, while maintaining decent fuel economy.

Bicester Advertiser: The Suzuki Vitara 1.5 Full Hybrid Allgrip

The engine is mated to a six-speed automated manual gearbox. Left to its own devices in automatic mode, it sometimes seems a little ponderous at times when you wan it to engage the right gear, especially on uphill sections of road, while the electric motor struggles at times to smooth out the shifts.

However, when you take control of the shifts by flicking the paddles behind the steering wheel, the driving experience becomes much more engaging. Selecting ‘sport’ mode also contributes to a more dynamic drive.

The Vitara feels fairly light and nimble on its feet, which would be helpful when performing manoeuvres in urban areas, while there was very little by way of body roll to look out for. There are also decent levels of traction and grip.

It’s a three grade full hybrid line-up of SZ-T, SZ5 and SZ5 ALLGRIP models.

Price-wise, it costs from £23,499 in SZ-T trim, which increases to £25,499 for the top-spec two-wheel drive SZ5 model.

Inside, the cabin is a pleasant place to be, although some of the tech isn’t quite so up to date as some rivals.

The dashboard design is straightforward and functional, with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system which works well.

Suzuki Vitara Full Hybrid SZ5

PRICE: £25,499

ENGINE: 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol hybrid, 113bhp/138Nm

0-62MPH: 12.7 seconds

MAX SPEED: 111mph

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed automatic, driving front wheels

ECONOMY: 53mpg/121g/km