Suzuki drives with

extra grip

Suzuki Ignis, 2017, front, off road
Suzuki Ignis, 2017, close up, front
Suzuki Ignis, 2017, climb
Suzuki Ignis, 2017, front
Suzuki Ignis, 2017, off road
Suzuki Ignis, 2017, rear
Suzuki Ignis, 2017, interior
Suzuki Jimny, 2017, side
Suzuki Jimny, 2017, rear
Suzuki Jimny, 2017, side, mud
Suzuki Jimny, 2017, off road
Suzuki Allgrip range, left to right, Swift, S-Cross, Ignis, Jimny, Vitara

YOU don't have to possess a degree in marketing or even be a car nut to recognise the fact that SUVs and 4WDs are booming in Britain.

But many of the current high-riders are in fact conventional front-driven, having stolen the chunky SUV styling for the sake of fashion...and greater popularity.

Not so Suzuki, which can justly boast that five of its seven models are fitted with Allgrip 4WD either as standard or as an option.

With sales surging at nine per cent last year and a price premium of under £2,000 for all-paw adhesion, the formula is providing a valuable sales boost the Japanese maker.

Suzuki can also claim to have seven out of the top 10 most fuel efficient lower cost 4WD models in the UK.

The firm's oldest off-roader, which has its roots in the 1970s, is tiny ‘jeep'-style Jimny which has clocked up almost three million sales across 188 global markets and still attracts around 1,000 orders a year over here, many of which are repeat sales. The Jimny first went on sale in 1998.

With a narrow track, tight turning circle and a wheel-at-each corner design, it has the climbing agility of a mountain goat.

It uses Suzuki's Allgrip Pro system which features a transfer box with high and low ratio four-wheel-drive. Its free-wheeling front hubs are engaged automatically.

With a full box-section chassis, it is tough and durable and designed to absorb energy from all directions. It certainly proved capable of romping up one-in-three inclines of rough hewn rock and loose stones in South Wales.

The little 1.3-litre engine might not have the torque for towing, but for town and country pottering as well as fully fledged assaults on rough terrain it has ample appetite.

Priced from £12,999, it is due to be replaced in 2019 by a new model, but Suzuki pledges the formula of low weight, narrow track and high value will be adhered to.

A recent addition to the line-up is the Ignis, a mini-crossover that was introduced in January with a sub-£12,000 price tag.

Powered by a 1.2-litre Dualjet petrol engine, or with a mild hybrid system, the Ignis uses automatic permanent four-wheel-drive which transfers additional torque to the rear wheels when needed via a viscous coupling.

Its ultimate adhesion falls short of that of the Jimny and the lower ground clearance limits off-road excursions, but for drivers who live in rural areas and must cope with snow, mud and ice the extra adhesion offered by the Ignis will prove invaluable.

Both the Vitara and S-Cross can be specified with Allgrip Select, with a choice of four modes - auto, sport, snow and lock - allowing the driver a range of options to handle a variety of conditions. It is a standard feature on the S version and an option on SZT and SZ5.

The Vitara was introduced in summer 2015 and immediately flew off the shelves. With looks akin to a junior Evoque, it appealed to sporty, outdoor families and rural dwellers alike.

The S-Cross, facelifted last year to be more SUV than people-carrier in styling, is marginally larger than the Vitara and has the option three engines - 1.0-litre or 1.4-litre Boosterjet turbo petrol, and 1.6-litre diesel.

The Swift supermini, launched in its latest form earlier this year, looks the least likely recipient of four-wheel-drive with its relatively low ground clearance and five-door hatchback styling.

Nevertheless it can be specified with Allgrip Auto, which like the Ignis is a permanent system. Prices start at £15,999.

With the popularity of 4WDs doubling over the last ten years, Suzuki appears well place to deal with the next decade.

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