There’s been a lot in the news recently about cars getting bigger - with some struggling to fit into parking spaces or having to be parked on pavements to avoid blocking roads.

Indeed, new cars in Europe are getting 1cm wider every two years, on average, according to research by Transport & Environment.

Amid this backdrop, it came as a pleasant change to drive something with easier-to-manage dimensions.

Suzuki has a strong reputation for its expertise in small cars, with one such offering being the characterful Ignis.

Denbighshire Free Press: The Suzuki Ignis hybrid in and amongst the puddles during the recent heavy downpours to have hit West Yorkshire

The main take-away from my week testing this compact crossover was the fact it offers such stress-free motoring and is so easy to use. You can nip into those tight parking spots in the supermarket car park, or you can drive on a narrow wall-lined country road without fear of getting into a stand-off and having to reverse.

The Ignis recently underwent a facelift to offer a more rugged SUV appearance.

Another high point of the updated Ignis is the engine, with all versions being powered by the new 1.2-litre four-cylinder K12D Dualjet hybrid unit.

It feels like a right-sized engine for a vehicle of this size and nature, providing fuel economy of 56.9mpg and emissions of just 112g/km.

Through a reasonably-slick five-speed manual gearbox, you can get the best out of the engine, with the gear ratios optimised for a combination of performance and economy.

Denbighshire Free Press: The Suzuki Ignis hybrid

Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 12.7 seconds, but the Ignis feels a bit sharper than that in real world driving conditions, while you don’t seem to be badly punished in terms of fuel economy if you work the engine quite hard. The mild hybrid system gives a much-needed boost to the modest 82bhp at lower engine speeds.

The Ignis has a grippy and well-planted feel when cornering, allowing the driver to have confidence in its agility.

While it might be best-suited to urban driving, weaving its way through inner-city traffic, the Ignis certainly doesn’t feel wildly out of place out on the rural B-roads, aside from being a bit fidgety on undulating roads.

You might expert the vehicle’s smaller proportions to leave you a little cramped inside, but I found the cabin to be surprisingly spacious.

Denbighshire Free Press: The Suzuki Ignis hybrid

At 6ft 3in, I had no problem finding a comfortable driving position, while there was plenty of space for luggage when I needed to load my son’s cricket bag into the boot.

Front visibility is excellent, helped by the short bonnet, but looking over your shoulder past the wide rear pillars isn’t quite so easy, although you can rely on assistance from a rear-view camera, which comes as standard.

The dash is well laid-out, with everything in easy reach of the driver.

A 7.0-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system comes as standard on all trim levels, but it isn’t the most responsive and navigating the menu layout is a bit fiddly.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring is included, while there’s also a built-in sat-nav system available on the top-tier SZ5 trim, tested here.

With a unique position as the only ‘ultra compact’ SUV on the market, the Ignis has a highly-distinctive appearance – meaning you’ll either really like it, or you won’t, depending on your taste.

Denbighshire Free Press: The Suzuki Ignis hybrid

Personally, I’m a fan of its funky looks and admire the fact it doesn’t conform to the rather generic SUV body styling adopted by other manufacturers. One criticism you hear is that a lot of SUVs look the same these days, but the Ignis offers some much-needed aesthetic variety.

The new five-spoke front grille and bumpers look the part, while the unique headlights always bring a smile to my face.

All things considered, the Ignis is competitively priced and offers good value for money.

Suzuki Ignis hybrid SZ5

ENGINE: 1.2-litre Dualjet hybrid
PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph in 12.7 seconds and top speed of 103mph
ECONOMY: 56.9mpg combined
TRANSMISSION: Five-speed manual, front wheel drive
PRICE: £18,949