WELL, who knew driving a commercial vehicle could be so much fun?
In fairness, the vehicle in question is the rather snazzy Suzuki Jimny in its very latest van-like guise, but it delivers on all counts when faced with a tricky off-road assault course.
The two-door model, that is constantly in such high demand that waiting lists are generally necessary, looks fun and funky from any approach thanks to its quirky box-like styling, round headlights, moulded wheel arches, black exterior mirror caps and 15-inch black steel wheels.
Move inside and the first thing you will notice is the lack of rear seats. That's because this Jimny is a light commercial vehicle. Instead, there is a partition grille to separate and protect the front seat occupants from anything being transported in the back. It also means the vehicle can carry up to 863 litres of goodies in the back.
The car version, which stopped being sold last year, had storage for just 85 litres of kit when the second row of seats were upright.
Powering the Jimny Commercial, which is only available in one trim level, is a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine developing 101ps and 130Nm of torque.
It is matched to a five-speed manual gearbox and the Jimny Commercial has a top speed of 90mph. According to official figures under official testing, it can deliver a combined 36.7mpg with carbon emissions of 173g/km.
The interior is clutter-free but practical in its layout with lots of tech to explore. Creature comforts include a DAB radio with CD player, cruise control with speed limiter, a two-speaker sound system, Bluetooth, USB connection, electric front windows, a digital clock and steering wheel mounted audio controls. There are grab handles for convenience getting in and out the vehicle and also when off-roading along bumpy tracks.
The Jimny drives really nicely on the open road and is certainly far more comfortable than previous generation models. Admittedly, you need to give tight bends a degree of respect to avoid body roll and the engine, road surface and wind noise does get quite loud at higher speeds, but who cares? It's all part of the appeal of this charming vehicle.
Then there is the off-road ability. The Jimny Commercial boasts low range gear settings for more challenging terrain, along with ALLGRIP 4WD for added traction.
We took the Jimny Commercial away from the comfort of the Tarmac to an area where it simply oozes confidence - boggy wooded tracks, slippery inclines, rocky paths and deep muddy puddles. And it cruised round the course, skipping over obstacles and clambering up gradients without missing a beat.
Part of its success story, apart from the clever on-board technology, is its weight as the Jimny Commercial tips the scales at just over a tonne. That means, it bounces over most tricky surfaces rather than getting bogged down.
And there is a wealth of safety kit as standard too, including ABS with brake assist, electronic stability programme, hill hold and hill descent assist, dual sensor brake support that applies automatic brakes to help avoid a collision, high beam assist, side impact protection beams, a tyre pressure monitoring system, eCall and airbags.
There is also an immobiliser. Locking wheel nuts, a security alarm and remote central door locking for added protection.
Being classed as an LCV, this Jimny model comes with attractive savings for business buyers who will have a standard VED charge for the first year that is set at £275. The Benefit in Kind rating for the car is based on a standard flat rate of £3,500.
The Jimny Commercial is going on sale soon, priced from Â£16,796 excluding VAT. If you are interested, it's highly advisable to get in line now as just 400 units will be available in the UK initially.