Car buyers are spoiled for choice when it comes to small SUVs, or crossovers as they’re also called. A strong but slightly less mainstream option is Suzuki’s SX4 S-Cross.
Sitting between the larger Vitara and the dinky little Ignis in the Japanese firm’s SUV range, it starts at £20,000 and aims to tempt buyers of the Mazda CX-3, Seat Arona and VW T-Roc and other compact SUVs.
There are no diesel engines, with customers choosing a 1.0 litre three-cylinder petrol engine or the 1.4 litre petrol unit my test car came with, both of which have their power boosted by turbochargers.
The SX4 S-Cross comes with what Suzuki calls a “mild hybrid” system. This isn’t the kind of set up that you plug into the mains or that allows the car to run on battery power alone.
Instead, the 48V system works away in the background, boosting acceleration and fuel economy, and helping power the lights, stereo and air conditioning.
High spec models are available with four-wheel drive but most versions, including the one I drove, are front-wheel drive. If you need to get off road, Suzuki’s rugged little Jimny is a much better choice.
The 1.4 litre engine will do 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds and gets an excellent 50 miles from a gallon of petrol.
Inside, there’s a smart dashboard with a touchscreen for most controls. Space in the back is much better than you’ll find in a T-Roc or CX-3, and the same goes for the boot, which is capacious and has a handy under-floor storage bin.
My mid-spec SZ-T model, costing £23,749, came with keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors,reversing camera, dual zone air conditioning and adaptive cruise control, making it a well equipped little beastie.
The suspension strikes a nice balance between ride and handling, and the SX4 S-Cross is a comfortable car to drive. Some rivals have an edge when it comes to suppressing wind and tyre noise, but the Suzuki isn’t too bad. I emerged from a two-hour round trip up the Angus coastline feeling none too weary.
The SX4 S-Cross is good value, offering nearly as much space as a Nissan Qashqai for a price closer to that of a Nissan Juke.
Add in its good looks and Suzuki’s strong reliability record and it’s an impressive car.