SUZUKI is a company on the march with a range of excellent models that ooze class but in an unpretentious way and the iconic Jimny is another perfect example.
The Japanese manufacturer's line-up has gone from strength to strength in recent years with well-priced models that are feature rich, practical and fun to drive.
But the car we were all waiting for was the all-new Jimny. And after 18 years, Suzuki finally launched the fourth generation model last year and it was certainly worth the wait.
Admittedly it will appeal to a niche market and the on-road comfort is not exactly refined. But it's far better than its predecessor and it feels like it can conquer the world away from the Tarmac.
The latest three-door Jimny is still instantly recognisable thanks to its distinctive grille and circular headlights, but the car has grown in stature - it's 20mm higher and 45mm wider. However, it's actually 30mm shorter, so it maintains its trademark boxy styling.
Our range-topping SZ5 model also featured black wheel arch mouldings, black exterior door mirror caps, rear privacy glass and 15-inch alloy wheels. It's as quirky as they come and bubbling over with charisma.
Climb inside and the compact cabin is comfortable enough and the front seats slide and tilt for easy access to the back seats, which are ideal for a couple of youngsters.
The interior is modern and clutter-free with plenty of techno treats to explore, including smartphone connectivity, a navigation system, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, a 4.2-inch LCD display screen, automatic air conditioning, heated front seats and lots more besides.
But while the Jimny now boasts all the mod cons we demand in cars these days, don't be fooled into thinking it's gone soft. Jimny has always been regarded as a working vehicle with 70 per cent of sales notched up by builders and farmers, and the new model will still be just as appealing to those buyers. But it now offers much improved on-road driving too which ups its all-round appeal levels even further.
In fairness, it's not overly polished when it comes to comfort and after a 150-mile road test, I was thinking longingly about my armchair at home, but it is far, far better than the previous generation model.
The 101ps 1.5-litre petrol engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox and although the 0-60mph sprint time has yet to be confirmed, the Jimny tops out at 90mph. The test car was priced at £18,449 with the addition of Dual tone paint bumping the cost up by a further £650. According to official WLTP figures it can deliver combined fuel efficiency of 35.8mpg with carbon emissions of 154g/km (NEDC).
The acceleration is smooth through the gears and while the Jimny is not blisteringly quick, it can hold its own on dual carriageways and motorways. There is a degree of body roll if bends are attacked too eagerly, but the road holding is generally very assured.
And although I didn't venture off-road on this occasion I can honestly vouch for this car's awesome ability. On a previous outing, I was able to fully test the Jimny through a wooded course and it clambered over rocky trails, climbed up muddy hillsides, meandered along boggy tracks and tilted at nerve-jangling angles.
With a weight of just 1.4 tonnes, the Jimny is far lighter than its rivals so can skip across rugged terrain and it is assisted by the part-time four-wheel-drive (4WD) with low-range gears for trickier challenges.
With the rear seats dropped flat the storage options are good, but with all four seats in use, the capacity is limited to just 85 litres. There are, however, lots of extra storage compartments with a glovebox, cup holders, trays, a boot luggage box and door bins.
The car also features plenty of safety kit such as ABS with brake assist, electronic stability programme, lane departure warning, hill hold and hill descent control, dual sensor brake support, side impact protection beams and a full suite of airbags.