IT was with a degree of scepticism that I took the key of the Toyota Yaris Cross, a small crossover.
Sure, Toyota is a trustworthy company that produce good cars, but another small SUV - do we need it? And could it be much different from the Renault Captur, Ford Puma or Peugeot 2008, all fairly new, and all quite accomplished?
To get to the point and answer the burning questions - yes, the latest variant of the Yaris is worthwhile, extremely slick and is sure to make buyers' choice still more difficult.
Styling is key in this sector, and most would agree the newcomer manages to stand out from the crowd with its sharp lines, bold frontage and tall stance, without compromising its practicality.
And it's bang up-to-date in terms of engine design, sporting a super-economical 1.5litre three cylinder petrol hybrid engine matched to an automatic CVT gearbox. More boxes ticked, then.
Performance isn't exactly sporty but neither does it get left behind. Its 0 to 62mph time of around 11 seconds might not set the pulse racing ... however an average of nearly 60mpg will certainly stretch the pounds and put a smile on your face.
It handles nicely with the typical front drive characteristics that have become the norm in this sector. Body roll is kept well in check and it's quite happy being hustled through the curves when the mood takes. It feels pleasantly light and athletic. By SUV standards, the ride is a bit firm but nothing too extreme.
Noise levels are low to medium with muted wind intrusion and the mechanical noise only becomes noticeable under hard acceleration. The hybrid power unit is a comfortable fit and works well with ample electric assistance - Toyota is, after all, a forerunner in electric power.
The electric motor produces up to 79bhp and the total power output is 114bhp. Above 30 mph, the car's computer system decides whether to use petrol or electric propulsion or both. From a driver's point of view the switch between the two is seamless.
Two power modes are available - Eco and Power, which are pretty explanatory. There's also a B setting which increases the regeneration which further boosts efficiency.
Built on the Yaris hatch platform, its extra height makes the most of cabin space with plenty of room leg and headroom front and back. Boot space, too, is right up to par with almost 400litres of cargo room before the rear seats are folded down. The flat floor and no lip make loading easy.
The cabin has an air quality with plenty of soft touch plastic on the dash and a large, prominent touch screen placed centrally. In usual Toyota style, it feels well made and solid if a little on the sombre side.
Design trim, as driven here, is likely to be the most popular here and includes automatic air con, reversing camera, LED lights, roof rails, and adaptive cruise control. Upgrade and you get heated seats and more gizmos.