THERE’S a manufacturer out there that specialises in 4 x 4 vehicles and some of them are pretty damned good.

Now you would be forgiven for thinking that I’m talking about Land Rover/Range Rover products. But no, I’m talking about Suzuki, which operates at the other end of the market entirely and which makes owning such become ‘very affordable.’ They have everything from the Vitara, to the S-Cross in various forms (as tested) to the dinky little Jimny (yes they still make them) and the even tinier Ignis.

It's a spread not covered by anyone else and the ‘affordable' quotes are mine, because that’s just what they are. In recent times, ie the last two years, this brand and a few, but highly loyal band of dealerships, have been quietly working away bringing 4 x 4 motoring to the great unwashed (ie folk like me!).

The do this in a clever way, but taking fairly basic engineering – which means that electronics take a back seat in favour of good old, ‘change it yourself-type’ gearboxes, switchgear and the like – and matching it with some really nice in-cabin ergonomics and up-to-date 'infotainment'.

I’ve been a fan of such design for some time, but Suzuki have managed to put it very much into practice with that great range of 4 x 4 ‘alternatives’ available to the mainstream.

Luckily for them, the Great British Public agree, and sales have never been stronger. But, then, the offering from Suzuki has never been more prolific, nor greater.

Recently, I had the chance to live with the latest S-Cross model fitted with a lively little 1.4-litre four-cylinder. Don’t think that this is not up to the task, because the 138bhp it produces very much is, even with the workmanlike AllGrip 4 x 4 system fitted (2wd is available).

This was of course, the top-of-the-range SZ5 model which is the only spec’ fitted with this engine and the optional auto’ gearbox. Now, it wasn’t that long ago that fitting an auto gearbox to a 1.4-litre engine would have had you wheezing your way around the locale. But not now. The engine and auto 'box – only a tad behind the performance levels of a manual – were adequate for most tasks.

I liked it enormously and would recommend it for the more sedentary amongst us – indeed, that is the ‘buying’ public for Suzuki. But, this is also nifty enough to be enjoyed by those further down the league table of old age.

It cuts quite a dash and with a 0-62mph time of about 10 seconds, then it’s not sloth-like in terms of performance either, without drawing the attention of PC Plod. What you get with Suzuki is value for money.

This one cost £24,199 but that was with all the bells and whistles that the SZ model brings, which includes satnav, silver roof rails, dual-zone air-conditioning, extra audio speakers, keyless entry, automatic headlights and wipers, parking sensors, reversing camera and auto-dimming interior mirror. Add to that leather upholstery, a huge sunroof, brake support and adaptive cruise control and then the bigger spec begins to add up.

It is, however, a good £9k more than the entry level, two-wheel-drive model, the 1-litre Boosterjet SZ4 which kicks off the S-Cross range at £14,999. Which brings me back to 'affordability'! All SZ4 models are equipped as standard with seven airbags, ESP, Bluetooth, DAB digital radio, air conditioning, daytime running Lights, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control with speed limiter, air conditioning, heated door mirrors, black protective skid plates and black wheel arch extensions – so you don't have to sacrifice much in terms of comfort by being economical.

It's also quite easy on the wallet once you own one. While not in the top of the class bracket, the S-Cross with this engine will do well into the mid-40s mpg – almost 50mpg is the stated figure – which, with a vehicle with full time, but on demand 4 x 4 is not bad at all. For those that need 4 x 4, but are looking at a budget, then this is definitely worth a gander – it even has a 'dial a terrain' type turn-wheel to help smooth things out for off-road. There are not many of this type out there that offers so much, for so little, and I cannot say more than that.