How can something be big and small at the same time?

Bit of a conundrum but not necessarily in the case of the Suzuki S-Cross hybrid. It is one of those cars that sits in a league of its own, classed as a small SUV but big compared to its rivals. Puzzle solved.

If we discount Swace and Across, both rebadged Toyotas, S-Cross is now the halo model although if asked to name a Suzuki most would likely say Vitara, Swift or Ignis before S-Cross.

Yet this is a car not without its merits and in many ways is the unsung hero of the range. Suzuki is not a big player in the UK market so has to rely on its enviable reliability record and value for money, even base models are packed with standard kit and S-Cross is no exception but I would probably avoid the flagship Ultra, tested here, and save money by going lower down the range.

The Ultra name sums up the car because it has a long spec sheet that includes an automatic gearbox and the highly efficient all wheel drive system. I could not help comparing S-Cross with the MG HS. This is a £24,000 SUV that could take a £30k price tag while the Ultra does not feel like a car nudging £33,000.

The cabin is bland with a lot of hard black plastic finishes, yet everything is solidly put together; you will find no trim creek or rattles here.

The tech has been updated with new graphics for the nine inch touch screen, along with a surround camera which is exclusive to S-Cross. Navigation is also standard on Ultra but all models come with Smartphone mirroring so mobile direction apps can be displayed on the screen.

I was also glad to see a digital speedometer in the driver’s binnacle something badly needed  given the European style 20mph increments in the main dial which are not that clear on the silver background.

S-Cross does well on space front and back although headroom could be a tad tight for six footers as the rear bench sits higher than the front seats. All the seats are firm but supportive.

That firmness carries through to the ride which smothers bumps and thuds as well as controlling body roll, but you could not describe the car as super comfortable, probably a bi-product of the all wheel drive system and the need for stiffer suspension.

Although it pushes up the cost Suzuki’s Allgrip is an exceptional four wheel drive option compared with big money alternatives. Let’s not kid ourselves that this is a full blown off roader but it has settings for three surfaces and I know from experience that it will get you out of gluey mud and give peace of mind in snow and slush, and it comes with hill hold control.

A six speed auto box is standard on the Ultra and helps give S-Cross terrific economy. Using the economy setting I coasted past the official combined figure easily topping 50mpg, and that is a big selling point particularly for four wheel drive. The only drawback in economy is a slowish response pulling away and I found myself slipping into manual for a faster getaway.

Safety is well catered for with adaptive cruise control, lane assist and cross traffic alert which is so useful when reversing out of supermarket parking bays. I would like to see that on all cars. The 360 degree camera is a worthwhile addition and there are front and rear parking sensors.

Interestingly the better performing S-Cross has the smaller 1.4 litre engine but I would stick with the hybrid because of the economy benefits even though it is not that quick and a bit coarse when pushed.

Fast facts

S-Cross Ultra Allgrip

£32,649 (starts £26,099)

1.5 litre hybrid 113bhp

0-62mph 13.5secs; 108mph

48.7mpg combed (54mpg tested)

132g/km. First tax £245

Insurance group 16