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What is it like to drive?

Suzukis have a rare knack of feeling astutely engineered whatever their price. Rather more effort than was strictly necessary was poured into making the latest Swift lightweight and deft to drive, and so seems to be the case with the latest S-Cross.

It weighs a maximum of 1,330kg (in 4WD auto trim) making it lighter than the bulk of its rivals, something that’s tangible right from the off. It reacts sharply, handles neatly and boasts wonderfully transparent steering. It gets dangerously close to being fun on a decent stretch of road. The ride is more supple than the crossover norm, too, no doubt helped by 17in wheels that look modest in size in perhaps the most vain of all the market segments.

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And what of its hybrid powertrain?

It’s got a lot of pep to it, and you’ll have to be especially lazy with your gearchanges to catch it napping. The electrification is very subtle indeed, simply smoothing out the stop/start process in traffic and helping fill the gap of the 1.4’s turbo lag.

A good job it does of both, too, for this is as quick and keen as you really need a family SUV to be. Its performance figures may look tame on paper, but it potters along nicely in reality.

Manual or automatic?

We’d stick with the former – It shifts slickly and feels like it’s been geared for life on British roads, its ratios spaced out neatly to keep the car on the boil on bumpy backroads before letting it settle at a mite over 2,000rpm during motorway cruising. There’s that astute engineering again.

But the auto is smooth enough too, if a little too keen to kickdown. You’ll ask for a little acceleration down a slip road but sometimes get a lot. It’s only a bugbear because the 1.4 turbo is so keen to rev and will buzz right towards its redline at first opportunity when the gearbox gets itself excited. But soften your inputs and this ought not be too much of an issue. A big pair of paddleshifters are standard fit, should you wish to take manual control.

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