Do not be fooled for one second by the cute, cheeky looks of the new Suzuki Ignis. This is one tough little cookie that punches way above its weight.
Strikingly styled and solidly built, the compact crossover is a clear winner as a neat and nippy city car, but it packs some surprising technological tricks that move it into a different class.
The upmarket test model, powered by a 1.2-litre engine, and complete with hybrid system, four-wheel-drive and some slick technology, demanded a tougher test than a simple shopping trip around urban streets.
So off we went for a weekend of scaling ridiculously steep tracks off-road down in deepest Dorset, heading back across country to Oxfordshire, before setting off on the motorway to Bristol to circle ten levels of the city’s highest multi-storey car park, topped off by squeezing into absurdly small parking spaces in downtown Bedminster.
Oh, and incidentally, will the boot cope with lugging around three large bags of compost? Of course it will.
In between the cut and thrust of gentle off-roading and the even more stressful hunt for a city centre parking space, the Ignis is absolutely relaxed at speed on motorways and A-roads.
If its 1.2-litre engine sounds a little lightweight you would be wrong. It might not let you spend much time in lane three of a motorway, but the 90 horsepower on tap allows the Ignis, with its five-speed manual gearbox, to deliver a comfortable compromise of 60mph-plus cruising, with 60mpg consumption.
The hybrid model uses a compact lithium-ion battery placed under the front passenger seat to store energy. The system only uses its conventional engine starter motor when first started from cold, under all other conditions it uses a separate unit, which acts as both a generator and starter motor to allow smooth and quiet engine restarts.
The same unit uses ‘regenerative braking’ to transfer heat from braking into electrical energy to recharge both the lithium-ion battery and the car’s conventional 12-volt battery.
The test car fairly bulged with equipment, from satellite navigation, rear view parking camera and automatic air conditioning, to LED headlights, cruise control and a range of helping hand technology.
That included everything from an electronic stability program, to stereo cameras mounted on each side of the driver’s interior rear view mirror that detect lane markings as well as objects ahead, including pedestrians.
Depending on what the cameras spot, the system will activate lane departure and weaving alerts – in case you get tired at the wheel – or if it detects a risk of a frontal collision it warns you to apply the brakes. If things look nasty, the system increases braking force during emergency braking and if it decides a crash is unavoidable, it will apply the brakes automatically.
Priced from about £10,000, even the entry-level five-seater model comes with six airbags, air conditioning, DAB radio with Bluetooth, 15-inch wheels, body-coloured door mirrors and front electric windows.
There are plenty of personalisation possibilities too, with a choice of 11 colours and a range of options for both exterior and interior trim. Another nailed-on hit from Suzuki.

Auto facts
Model: Suzuki Ignis 1.2 SHVS SZ5
Price: £13,999
Insurance group: 18E (1-50)
Fuel consumption (combined): 65.7mpg
Top speed: 106mph
Length: 370cm/145.7in
Width: 169cm/66.5in
Luggage capacity: 9.1 cu ft
Fuel tank capacity: 6.6 gallons/30 litres
CO2 emissions: 106g/km
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles