What’s notable about the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross’s performance is not what it does but how remarkably parsimonious it is while it’s doing it.

On the face of it, the diesel version is a pretty ordinary performer. A power output of 118bhp is a pretty middling delivery for a 1.6-litre diesel, so it’s no surprise that it’s moderately quiet and quite responsive. It’s not overly boosted, and although its respectable 236lb ft of torque is developed from 1750rpm, it’s keen enough to pull from 1500rpm.

The transversely mounted engine drives the front wheels, or all four via an all-wheel-drive system

Driving the front wheels only through a six-speed manual gearbox isn’t the best combination for a brisk getaway, so don’t fret too much over a 0-60mph time of 10.0sec (although it is a touch quicker than a Kia Sportage equipped with a 1.7-litre diesel).

The bigger difference is in flexibility. While a Sportage wants 11.3sec to stretch from 30-70mph, the S-Cross asks only 10.1sec. But better still, leave the cars in fourth gear over the same yardstick, as you well might, and while the Sportage wants some time to wind up, eventually hitting 70mph in 14.7sec, the S-Cross gets going more quickly and takes just 11.8sec to get there.

Granted, that degree of flexibility is nothing too outstanding, until you come to refuel it. Even during our intensive, flat-out performance figuring and track tests, the S-Cross couldn’t be coaxed to deliver less than 30mpg, and on a steady motorway cruise it returned a remarkable 67.5mpg.

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Overall we recorded 56.7mpg – and given that most owners will do even better than us, that’s quite some achievement. The Suzuki brakes well, too, pulling up briskly and consistently in both wet and dry conditions.

Allgrip versions drive in a very similar fashion to their two-wheel-drive counterparts, although predictably they offer up improved traction. For those looking to occasionally venture down rougher roads, or who'll be routinely driving in poor conditions, they're worth considering. The efficiency impact is relatively small, too, so opting for an Allgrip model shouldn't overly affect running costs unless you're driving considerable distances each year.

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