Suzuki S-Cross 1.4

Boosterjet SZ5

ALLGRIP

Suzuki S-Cross, in snow
Suzuki S-Cross, front static
Suzuki S-Cross, front action
Suzuki S-Cross, side action
Suzuki S-Cross, rear static
Suzuki S-Cross, snow button
Suzuki S-Cross, dashboard
Suzuki S-Cross, rear seats
Suzuki S-Cross, boot

ONE road on the hilly approach to the Suzuki's temporary home was blocked by snowdrifts and the other softly glistened under thin ice.

Good then that between the front seats on this particular Suzuki sat a dial with a setting reassuringly marked 'snow'.

Twist it from 'normal' and the car - already set to dip into all-wheel drive the instant a wheel starts to slip - would also go gently putting its power on to the road, giving you every chance of maintaining forward momentum.

Unlike, you'd have to say, the drivers of powerful and, crucially, rear wheel drive BMWs and Jags who sensibly gave in to the elements and headed home.

You would hardly buy this Suzuki S-Cross simply for its ability to outwit a blast of freakish weather (unless perhaps you were a vet in a Yorkshire dale) but by goodness its determined go-almost-anywhere pluck was good to have.

A day or two later as the sun shone and drying roads revealed a new crop of potholes the S-Cross's other strengths came to the fore.

There are many of them, all built into a car that even after a thorough restyle to make it look more assertive is still a modest example of the current craze for SUVs over hatches and the like.

The S-Cross range starts at £17,499 but you need to spend at least £22,549 for one with ALLGRIP four-wheel drive. Both of them will have a 1.0 litre petrol engine, smaller sibling to the 1.4 litre version in the test car. There's also a 1.6 litre diesel, from £22,249 and automatic gears cost another £1,350 with the petrol engine options.

Pick a top of the range SZ5 trim and your S-Cross will come thoroughly well equipped. The goodies ranges from a huge glass sunroof, leather trim and keyless entry and start to cruise control, 17 inch alloy wheels and Bluetooth integration.

What you don't get is much feeling of plushness inside. This is an obviously well built car (in Hungary, as it happens) that experience of the brand tells you will last for ever, but fancy it is not.

Nothing fancy about the way it drives, either. Here is a car that goes about its business with a quiet aplomb, being perfectly fast enough and nicely rounding off the worst excesses of a typical British road without ever making you feel you've slipped into a sports car by mistake.

There's plenty of room for the family and a decent boot - and 42mpg after a demanding week of snow and sunshine is more than acceptable too.

Like the lack of flash on the outside, the interior simply wants to get on with it. That's a quality that really only comes to the fore as the miles roll by beneath the tyres and the months are ticked off on the calendar hung on the back of the utility room door.

FAST FACTS

Suzuki S-Cross 1.4 Boosterjet SZ5 ALLGRIP

Price: £26,099

Mechanical: 138 bhp, 1,373cc, 4-cyl petrol engine driving all four wheels via 6-spd automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 124 mph

0-62mph: 10.2 secs

Combined MPG: 49.5

Insurance Group: 24

C02 emissions: 128 g/km

Bik rating: 26%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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