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Car group tests

Suzuki Vitara vs Citroen C4 Cactus & Renault Captur

Suzuki’s Vitara has transformed from basic 4x4 to cute compact SUV. We see how it fares against the Citroen C4 Cactus and Renault Captur

The compact crossover market is more crowded than ever, with makers fighting hand over fist to get in on the lucrative action. The latest arrival is Suzuki’s new Vitara, which the company is attempting to transform from tough, no-nonsense SUV into a fashionable and fun family runaround.

It’s smaller than before, and available with two-wheel drive for the first time, plus it features a range of funky customisation options. The new Vitara also gets the choice of the same eager 1.6-litre diesel and petrol engines as the SX4 S-Cross, while engineers have attempted to give the Vitara agile and engaging handling, like the Swift.

Setting the benchmark for the Suzuki are a pair of desirable French crossovers that effortlessly combine kerb appeal with low running costs. The Citroen C4 Cactus looks like no other car and has the sort of relaxed driving experience that takes the stress out of every journey. It also has a classy cabin and decent practicality.

The Renault Captur is equally eye-catching, and is available with a host of personalisation options. So which of our crossover contenders will gallop to victory? Read on to find out...

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Suzuki Vitara review

Citroen C4 Cactus review

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Renault Captur review

Click the links above to read full individual reviews, and scroll down to see which compact crossover comes out on top...

Head-to-head

Custom options

All three cars target style-conscious buyers, so there are customisation options available for each. Choose from contrasting roof colours, bright trim inserts and different wheels. The Vitara can also be specced with a beefy bodykit, while the Cactus and Captur get a range of decals. The Renault goes one better with its zip-up seat covers.

Infotainment

Touchscreen infotainment is par for the course these days, but the Suzuki’s system is a highlight. From its simple layout to its touch-sensitive volume slider control, it’s really intuitive. The Citroen’s screen could be more sensitive, and the Renault’s is a little confusing to use.

Petrol engines

If you don’t want the diesel engine in our test car, the Vitara has a 118bhp version of the Swift Sport’s 1.6-litre petrol 4cyl. The Cactus gets a 1.2-litre 3cyl with or without a turbo. Petrol options in the Captur are both turbos: a 0.9-litre 3cyl or a 1.2-litre 4cyl.

Verdict

1st place: Citroen C4 Cactus

This was a closely fought contest, but the C4 Cactus just snatches victory. With its blend of bold looks, refreshingly styled interior and relaxing driving experience, it represents a breath of fresh air in the crossover class. It also costs peanuts to run and has more than enough space for most growing families. And while it’s not as much fun to drive as the Vitara, it’s always composed and comfortable.

2nd place: Suzuki Vitara

There’s plenty to like about the new Vitara; it’s great to drive, surprisingly fast and packs a roomy interior. It’s also remarkably frugal, well built and refined. Yet in this class, a car needs to stand out from the crowd and feature a dash of desirability – and the awkward looks and disappointing interior relegate the Suzuki to second place here. 

3rd place: Renault Captur

The sleekly styled Renault Captur looks the part and is available with a vast array of customisation options. It’s also surprisingly practical and features a number of family friendly touches. However, it’s uninspiring to drive, while the diesel is sluggish and not as efficient as you’d expect. Finally, it can’t match the Cactus for interior style and quality.

Other cars for similar money...

NEW: Nissan Juke 1.5 dCi AcentaPrice: £16,715 Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 108bhp

New Nissan Juke 2014 front

The Nissan Juke started the compact crossover craze when it debuted in 2010. A facelift last year freshened up the already bold looks, while all models get plenty of kit. The interior feels low rent and it’s cramped in the back, but the Juke still attracts attention.

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USED: Skoda Yeti 2.0 TDI 110 4x4 SEPrice: £16,995 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 108bhp

Skoda Yeti static

For just under £17,000, you could pick up a nearly new Skoda Yeti. We found a 5,000-mile 2014 model in desirable four-wheel-drive SE guise. And while its 2.0 TDI engine isn’t that refined and emits 154g/km of CO2, the Yeti is spacious, robust and great to drive.

Key specs

 Citroen C4 Cactus 1.6 BlueHDi 100 FeelSuzuki Vitara 1.6 DDiS SZ-TRenault Captur 1.5 dCi 90 Dynamique Nav
On-the-road price/total as tested£16,690/£17,975£16,999/£16,999£16,995/£18,724
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£8,328/49.9%£7,395/43.5%£7,869/46.3%
Depreciation£8,362£9,604£9,126
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£532/£1,065£644/£1,288£576/£1,152
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,239/£2,065£1,261/£2,101£1,399/£2,331
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost18/£507/A/£021/£531/B/£2012/£434/A/£0
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£400 (3yrs/35k)£178/£236/£218£399 (3yrs/30k)
    
Length/wheelbase4,157/2,595mm4,175/2,500mm4,122/2,606mm
Height/width1,530/1,729mm1,610/1,775mm1,566/1,778mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,560cc4cyl in-line/1,598cc4cyl in-line/1,461cc
Peak power98/3,750 bhp/rpm118/3,750 bhp/rpm89/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque254/1,750 Nm/rpm320/1,750 Nm/rpm220/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission5-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd5-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel45 litres/foam47 litres/foam45 litres/foam
Boot capacity (seats up/down)358/1,175 litres375/710* litres377-455/1,235 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,070/540/825kg1,230/640/1,500kg1,170/559/900kg
Turning circle10.9 metres10.4 metres10.4 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/1yr3yrs (60,000)/1yr4yrs (100,000)/4yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500 (1yr)/19612,500 (1yr)/14918,000 (1yr)/153
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.20th/23rd**31st/16th**7th/12th**
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./points82/79/80/56/489/85/76/75/588/79/61/81/5
    
0-60/30-70mph11.3/10.6 seconds9.9/9.5 seconds12.1/12.3 seconds
30-50mph in 3rd/4th4.6/9.4 seconds3.5/6.2 seconds5.1/7.7 seconds
50-70mph in 5th/6th12.6 seconds/N/A6.6/8.4 seconds12.6 seconds/N/A
Top speed/rpm at 70mph114mph/N/A112mph/1,800rpm106mph/2,100rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph47.0/36.0/9.0m53.6/35.5/8.7m51.6/37.0/9.3m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph66/45/62/71dB69/46/63/70dB66/49/63/70dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range52.5/11.6/520 miles51.6/11.4/533 miles46.5/10.2/460 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined74.3/88.3/83.1mpg61.4/76.3/70.6mpg67.3/83.1/78.5mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined16.3/19.4/18.3mpl13.5/16.8/15.5mpl14.8/18.3/17.3mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket144/87g/km/16%147/106g/km/19%163/95g/km/17%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park. sensors/cameraSix/yes/£395^/£395^Seven/yes/no/yesSix/yes/£675/£600^
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise controlNo/yes/yesNo/yes/yes£1,100/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seats£395/£695/noYes/no/noYes/£830/no
Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go£495/no/no£430/no/no£495/no/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/MP3£495/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/£240/yes
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