SUZUKI is a brand that is certainly going places and the latest entry-level S-Cross is a perfect example of outstanding value for money.
The car maker boasts excellent customer satisfaction records too and that, together with the development of reliable, practical cars that are economical to buy and run, is a winning formula.
The latest third-generation S-Cross is an attractive family SUV with more muscular looks thanks to a piano black grille, raised bonnet line, smooth curves, chunky wheel arch mouldings, silver front and rear plates, aluminium roof rails, rear privacy glass and 17-inch wheels.
There are only two trims to choose from called Motion and Ultra and to keep things simple, there is just one engine - the tried and tested 1.4-litre Boosterjet mild-hybrid petrol unit delivering 129PS and 235Nm of torque.
We opted for the entry-level Motion version with six-speed manual gearbox that rolls in at Â£24,999 - and that's not bad for a generously-equipped five-door family car these days.
And there is no lengthy list of optional extras either to bump up the price. The only additional cost is for upgraded paint at £550.
Our car could complete the 0-62mph dash in a respectable 9.5 seconds and maxed out at 121mph while delivering a combined 53.2mpg with carbon emissions of 120g/km under WLTP testing.
The latest S-Cross is more spacious than its predecessor and that means more room for passengers. In fact, a couple of adults can sit comfortably in the back of the car if the front seats are not pushed back too far, or a trio of youngsters would find the space ideal.
Up front there is bags of room and all the dials and readouts are perfectly positioned for ease of use.
It's all very straightforward and this car is certainly well equipped too with the likes of a seven-inch infotainment display, a six-speaker sound system, full Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone link-up, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, heated seats, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and lots more besides.
With its elevated seating, there is excellent all-round driver visibility and the petrol mild-hybrid engine combination delivers ample zip with enough power on tap to overtake.
The S-Cross is nicely balanced on the open road provided tight bends are attacked with a degree of caution, and the light steering is a trademark driving trait for Suzuki models making it easy to manoeuvre in busy town centre settings, while still offering enough feedback when fizzing through the country lanes.
Storage options are good with a boot that can swallow 430 litres of luggage with extra space beneath the boot floor. Drop the 60:40 split-folding rear seats and that capacity rises to 875 litres to the top of the boot cover. And throughout the cabin there is a glovebox, front and rear cup holders, a passenger seat back pocket, door bins with bottle compartments, a deep cubby box, practical trays and a sunglasses holder.
Another area where this car excels is safety with a wealth of technology as standard. Features include blind spot monitoring, dual sensor brake support, rear cross traffic alert, weaving alert, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning and prevention, eCall, Isofix child seat fixtures, side impact protection beams, hill-hold control and a full suite of airbags.
All in all, the Suzuki S-Cross is perfect proof that you don't need to break the bank to get a stylish new car that is packed with technology, economical to run and as safe as they come.
£24,999 plus £550 extras
129ps, 1,373, 4-cylinder, petrol mild-hybrid engine with 6-speed manual transmission