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New S-Cross is super all-rounder 

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I’VE just spent the last few days helping to clear out a relative’s house that’s going to be getting a massive inside renovation.

And assisting me greatly was a car that has benefited itself from a recent major facelift.

Suzuki launched its SX4 S-Cross in 2013 and has added to the crossover’s appeal with this second-generation model.

It gets a more muscular look that includes chrome front grille, new design headlamps sitting below the clamshell bonnet, and ground clearance is increased by 15mm.

There’s a new design inte-rior of all grades with smarter trim finish and updated soft-touch dashboard.

I discovered that boot space for this small SUV was excellent at 430 litres and with rear seats folded was upped to 874 litres.

With several runs back and forward to the local recycling centre involved during my time with the S-Cross, the boot’s wide access and low floor made loading and unloading much easier.

Also aiding this were the wide-opening rear doors.

The boot also contains a handy hidden storage compartment under the flat floor.

The S-Cross is available in three trims – SZ4, SZ-T and SZ5 – with prices ranging from £15,999 to £24,999.

The model I tested was a top-of-the-range SZ5 ALLGRIP, costing £24,849.

Suzuki has a reputation for offering lots of standard equipment on its models and the S-Cross is no exception.

Entry models come with seven airbags, ESP, bluetooth, DAB digital radio, air conditioning, daytime running rights, 16-inch alloys, cruise control with speed limiter, heated door mirrors, black protective skid plates and black wheel arch extensions.

Step up to SZ-T and additional equipment includes LED projector headlamps, satnav, polished 17-inch alloys, rear parking camera, front and rear parking proximity sensors, dual zone automatic air conditioning, front fog lamps, rear privacy glass, silver roof rails and silver rear skid plates.

My top spec model interior benefits included leather seat upholstery, heated front seats, a massive double sliding panoramic sunroof, and there was also aluminium roof rails and radar brake support.

There are three engine options – 1.0-litre and 1.4-litre Boosterjet turbo petrol or 1.6-litre turbo diesel.

The140PS 1.4-litre engine was under the bonnet of the test car and it’s a unit I sampled and liked last year in a Suzuki Vitara.

It proved to be equally efficient in the S-Cross, with the power coming through a six-speed automatic transmi-ssion.

With turbo lag virtually eliminated in these engines, you get a responsive and smooth delivery of power.

This S-Cross picked away smartly, with its zero to 62mph time of 10.2 seconds, and mid-range power was good.

There is plenty of oomph moving up and down the auto box and kickdown was impressive when looking for extra speed for overtaking manoeuvres.

You can also select manual mode and move up and down the gears with the steering wheel paddles.

With a top speed of 124mph, the S-Cross is ever so quiet at motorway speeds, with little engine, road or wind noise.

And it’s a small SUV that is also great to drive thanks to a revised suspension and four-wheel drive.

The ALLGRIP system allocates torque to the rear wheels before any slippage occurs and there are four modes – auto, sport, snow and lock.

The auto mode uses two-wheel drive, switching to four-wheel when wheel spin is detected.

I loved the car in sport mode when I ventured out to some winding roads and got maximum benefit from the four-wheel drive system when tackling bends at speed.

It handled superbly with super road grip as I spun in and out of bends at speed.

Snow mode will select four-wheel drive by default and a lock selection can help the car get out of tricky mud, snow or sand conditions.

All-round ride comfort is good and the spacious interior can accommodate two adult passengers for long journeys with three a bit of a squeeze.

Driving position was good in the comfortable leather seat with excellent view of instrument cluster, and easy reach of all controls.

The one-touch infotaiment system was also extremely easy to use for hands-free mobile, satnav and radio controls.

There is a lot to like about this latest SX4 S-Cross – not least superb fuel economy with this model capable of achieving 49.5mpg combined, 42.1mpg urban and 54.3mpg extra urban

The 1.4 Boosterjet SZ5ALL-GRIP test model is ideal for all conditions, offers great versatility and doesn’t disappoint in performance.