WHEN it comes to off road ability Suzuki have been making some very capable vehicles over the past few decades – so when I got to try out their latest S Cross model I was expecting good things.

And the compact SUV did not disappoint with its well proven Ultra Allgrip 4×4 system. Another plus is weight – coming in at just 1378kg the S Cross is a bit like a mountain goat with light steering and a nimble chassis adding to a sure footed, lightweight yet tough feeling.

Our test car was the ‘Full Hybrid’ version so as well as that low kerb weight an electric motor combo meant up to a claimed 57mpg is possible yet the car has plenty of power (115bhp from the 1.5 four cylinder petrol engine and 85kw electric motor).

It is comfortable, well equipped and easy to drive – although Suzuki’s latest auto box (actually an automated manual transmission) is not one of their best. That kit list includes a raft of driver aids and safety systems including ABS with EBD and brake assist, hill hold control, traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning and even something called sway warning!

Also standard equipment is a 360 degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, an LCD dash information screen and 9” central infotainment touch screen, heated front seats and drive mode select featuring snow and sport settings.

There are two versions of the S-Cross Hybrid available. Motion trim starts from £26,749 and features front-wheel drive or there’s our top-spec Ultra Allgrip model which is £32,649.

The Ultra spec also adds leather seat trim, sat-nav and a twin sliding sunroof which means it undercuts rivals like the Nissan QashqaiPeugeot 3008 and Kia Sportage on price for the same level of equipment.

I spent a week with the S Cross and despite lots of short and medium range trips I only managed to use just under half a tank so that claimed 57mpg looks very possible – the car told me I had managed 49mpg overall in ‘normal’ mode.

There is lots of room despite it being a compact SUV and with the seats down taking a large glass cabinet to the tip was no problem.

External styling gives the S Cross lots of road presence from the corporate front with high set automatic LED headlights, 17” polished alloy wheels in wheel arch extensions and distinctive Suzuki rear lights.

As with all Suzukis the car feels well put together with good quality interior materials and switches and displays that have a solid feel.

All of the above means you will have a car that should stand up well to many years of pleasurable motoring and stand out too as you will not be following the SUV crowd.

For more info see www.suzuki.co.uk

By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth