WHILE it still has limitations, the latest Suzuki Jimny is a far better road car than the previous versions without compromising fantastic off-road prowess.
But for those out there who put crossovers like the Nissan Qashqai and SEAT Arona in the same bracket, I'm afraid they aren't.
Almost all of them are road cars that look like they could go anywhere, but in fact are only two wheel drive and don't have the necessary ground clearance.
The Suzuki is more of a tiny Land Rover Defender - a tough, go anywhere machine that can take mountains, mud and rivers in its stride.
This is not a car to park outsoide the hairdressers. Its a workhorse with a wipe clean interior, big steel wheels and big black bumpers that don't come in body colour.
A 1.5-litre non turbo petrol engine with just 100bhp is the only one on offer. But because of reasonably light weight (for a 4x4) its enough for sprightly acceleration and can still deliver 37 real miles per gallon in everyday driving.
The engine is smooth and willing as long as the revs are kept up, and there's fair acceleration in the fourth and fifth gears of five. The clutch is light and the gearchange precise and a little notchy - as is usual with other 4x4s.
Power goes to the rear wheels for road use but if the going gets slippery a second gear lever can slot it into 4WD high on the move.
For really challenging off-road work, it also has a set of low ratios, but it must be stopped to engage them, with a further shift of the same lever.
It has a much more compliant ride than the old Jimnys and doesn't pitch front to rear in the same way.
In fact it has a much more comfortable ride in every situation even though it does bounce around on poor surfaces and thump through every pothole and drain.
It's comfortable enough to make longer journeys possible too. I did 80 miles in one day and found it would cruise happily at motorway speeds - despite its bluff shape losing the battle with the passing air at 90.
Also - and even with its high ground clearance - it still corners reasonably quickly, with good grip and decent balance even when its under power.
So overall, the new Jimny is much more useable every day than the old, more comfortable, safer and with good cornering ability. It's also very easy to park thanks to a vertical rear, good turning circle and tiny length.
Off road its almost unstoppable, and in the winter wonderland, it would keep you going when all about you are abandoning their cars and heading for the nearest pub or community centre.
Inside, there are four seats plus a tiny boot, and most owners are likely to leave the rear seats down until they are needed