SUZUKI, that master of the smaller car has always majored in retail sales in the UK and is now giving a number of its models extra grip to make sure drivers get where they are going safely.
The company now has five out of seven models in its range with Allgrip four wheel drive capability either as standard or as an optional drivetrain choice.
There are Allgrip ‘Auto' systems for the Ignis compact SUV and Swif hatchbackt; Allgrip ‘Select' for the Vitara and S-Cross models and Allgrip ‘Pro' for the hard-core off road Jimny incorporating high and low gear ratios.
It has certainly been a master stroke for Suzuki because the Allgrip models account for more than 25 per cent of itssales in the UK and Suzuki offers seven of the top 10 most fuel efficient lower cost four-wheel drive cars currently on sale.
We have all been on a snowy or muddy road with wheels flailing round and going nowhere, but these days the chances of being stuck on a slippery or muddy surface are vastly reduced by the type of technology adopted by Suzuki.
Most of the models fielded with the Allgrip system are what you may term ‘soft roaders', or vehicles that can cope happily with slippery surfaces but not take to the max of rocks and scarily steep slopes in the way a Land Rover Defender could cope.
But there is one Suzuki that is a cheeky contender for the real rough stuff and that is the Jimny, a genuine off-roader that can mixit with the big boys.
There has been a Jimny in the Suzuki range since 1998 and this little petrol-engined performer has that gift of light weight enabling it to get through situations where some heavier 4x4s may bog down.
Basically, the kind of ability that the Lada Niva, one of finest lighteight 4xs I have driven possessed when it was in the UK showrooms decades ago.
I was able to try a Jimny on a demanded off-road proving ground in South Wales and was able to make maximu use of its all-alloy 16-valve 1.3-litre engine which benefits from variable valve timing, ensuring lively performance, and strong fuel economy.
Maximum output is 85ps, with 81lb/ft of torque delivered at 4,100 rpm, a flat torque curve means near maximum torque is delivered from as low as 2,500 rpm giving Jimny the kind of flexible driving character and pulling power that are integral to a successful SUV.
But the real secret of this vehicle's success is button selectable four-wheel-drive and high and low ratios.
An ideal choice for farmers and people living in remote places, the Jimny can tackle some tough situations and fully justifies Suzuki's policy of providing family oriented vehicles with added grip.