IF there was such a thing as the Movement for Cheerful Motoring, the Suzuki Ignis would surely be elected leader.

For it’s a bijou motor … small in size, but big in heart, a four-wheel treat to put a smile on your face. The Ignis is a compact crossover model, first launched in the UK in January 2017 and now facelifted to offer a more rugged SUV-like appearance.

And it backs up the looks - with its flared wheel-arches and high-riding stance - with four-wheel-drive capability. Our test car, a top-of-the-range SZ5, had Suzuki’s ALLGRIP auto system, a well proven and simple fully-automatic and permanent four-wheel drive layout.

It is an ideal choice for drivers living in rural areas who may need additional mobility across rougher terrain or for crossing slippery surfaces during winter months without owning a more conventional SUV-sized vehicle.

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The system includes hill descent control and grip control which activates on slippery surfaces at speeds of less than 18mph.

This little gem of a five-door car has a new 81bhp, 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol-hybrid engine for both two- and four-wheel-drive versions, the self-charging hybrid system powered by a new lithium-ion battery. The hybrid tech assists the engine during vehicle take-off and acceleration and generates electricity through regenerative braking.

The interior is comfortable and offers decent space, the rear legroom proving generous for a small car although there is a price to pay in luggage space with the rear seat-back in place. Our model variant had individually-sliding rear seats.

This compact and functional package doesn’t stint on equipment, and the SZ5’s features included auto air conditioning, satellite navigation, cruise control, rear-view parking camera, keyless entry and engine-start, and electrically-heated door mirrors with integrated indicators.

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You will also find DAB radio and Bluetooth, smartphone link display audio, six airbags, LED headlights with daytime running lights, and rear privacy glass. 

Hi-tech safety features include dual camera brake support, lane departure warning and weaving alert.

The driving experience is smile-inducing. I like the engine’s chirpy note – the unit is said to offer greater fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions than its predecessor – while the easy-changing five-speed manual transmission has well-selected ratios. Ride is smooth and handling assured, the car feeling suitably nimble. An automatic transmission version is available.

Performance figures are: 0-62mph, 12.8 seconds, top speed, 103mph with a combined fuel consumption of 51.5mpg (manufacturer’s figures).

Price: £18,214 (inc £465 for metallic paint). The range starts at £13,999.