WITH the changes in world weather patterns producing a climate free-for-all in the UK it's great to have the security of all-wheel-drive for when you face a sudden snow storm or heavy rain.
But a lot of drivers still prefer an easy-to-drive, sensibly priced family car rather than the bulk of a big 4x4 and this is where Suzuki's latest S-Cross model is the perfect answer.
It's a spacious family five-seater with the security of all-wheel-drive but none of the complications.
And it's also the most relaxed car I have driven in a long time. It's one of those cars you instantly feel at home with although it's difficult to put your finger on quite why.
Admittedly it's well equipped and all the on-board features are intuitive, the ratios on the smooth six-speed manual box are spot on so there is always plenty of pulling power, the suspension is firm enough to ensure a good sporty ride and it's light to handle. But somehow there's more to it than that.
Suzuki just seems to have got the whole package right so journeys go with ease.
Built at Magyar, Hungary, this model was powered by Suzuki's 1.4-litre Boosterjet engine which delivers responsive mid range performance so you are never left wanting.
If you need even livelier motoring a simple rotary knob near the gear shift allows you to switch to Sport mode. The same control can be used to dial up Snow to give you more traction on really slippery surfaces but the car will automatically switch from two to four-wheel-drive anyway when there is any hint of wheelspin.
And if you are one of those people who find hill starts difficult the super efficient hill holder clutch will resolve your problem.
The high stance of the S-Cross makes getting in and out simple and also ensures good all round visibility.
A host of on board features which make the car easy to live with include a glass opening panoramic sunroof, dual zone automatic air conditioning, leather upholstery with heated front seats and an easy-to-programme satellite navigation system.
Parking sensors front and back as well as a rear view camera make manoeuvring simple, aided by an impressively small turning circle.
And conveniently you don't have to reach for the keys as the S-Cross has keyless locking/unlocking and push-button starting.
Space inside is generous with plenty of legroom for rear seat passengers and while there is a lot of black on the dashboard - which is more functional than flash - brushed metal trim provides some relief.
Beneath the hatchback there is some 430 litres of space with the rear seatbacks in position and 875 with them folded down, and extra space beneath the boot floor makes packing for holidays that little bit simpler.