Suzuki has gone a step further with the electrification of its popular compact crossover.

The city-orientated Vitara was already available as a mild hybrid - but the Japanese manufacturer has now introduced a full hybrid version.

The launch event took place at the Carden Park Hotel in Cheshire last week and we were among the first to drive the higher voltage Vitara on a route into Wales and through part of Snowdonia.

News Shopper: The full hybrid Suzuki Vitara on test in Cheshire and Wales during the launch event

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 of North Wales, it felt like a right-powered engine for the type of vehicle, offering just enough grunt when needed, while maintaining decent fuel economy.

Indeed, the two-wheel drive version is officially capable of 53mpg on the combined cycle, with emissions at just 121g/km.

The engine is mated to a six-speed automated manual gearbox. Left to its own devices in automatic mode, it seemed a little ponderous at times when you wanted 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.

News Shopper: The full hybrid Suzuki Vitara on test in Cheshire and Wales during the launch event

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.

In terms of the interior, the cabin is a pleasant and roomy place to be, although some of the tech isn’t quite so up to date as that found on some rivals.

The dashboard design is straightforward and functional, with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system which works well enough but isn’t quite as responsive as some.

Build quality is of a high standard and there’s a definite feel that the robust materials are built to last.

News Shopper: The full hybrid Suzuki Vitara on test in Cheshire and Wales during the launch event

The boxy design means headroom and legroom is good, both front and back, although the 289-litre boot is not the biggest.

A high level of safety equipment is fitted as standard to all Vitara models, including dual sensor brake support, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and seven airbags including drivers knee airbag.

Smartphone connectivity, rear parking camera, keyless entry and start, navigation, climate control comes as standard on both model grades.

In terms of appearance, the Vitara has a strong-looking design. The clamshell bonnet, regarded as a hallmark of Vitara models, gives the front end a look of solidity, and a trapezoid motif front bumper indicates powerful grip on the ground, while the sides are typified by pronounced character lines.

All-in-all, the Vitara represents decent value for money, with the engineering underpinning the new full hybrid being solid, and the vehicle offering improved running costs and bags of practicality.

The Lowdown

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