Who would believe that a car with such boxy angular lines could epitomise the ultimate in cuddly cool?

The fourth generation Suzuki Jimny might look like the ultimate Tonka toy but underneath the Toy Story bodywork is a proper off-road workhorse capable of seeing off many larger 4x4 phoneys.

Small and lightweight, with a traditional ladder-frame chassis and coil sprung suspension, this ridiculously likeable car is a bit shorter, wider and higher than the previous model and comes with selectable four-wheel-drive as standard.

The trade-off for this masterpiece of mountain goat-like talent is clear from the second you climb aboard.

Space is limited. Will you fit a glasses case in the slim line door bin? No. It’s strictly for maps only and anything else must go in the glovebox.

Will you get your shopping in the load space? Not without folding one or both of the rear seats flat.

Can it cope with long-distance trips? Yes, the seats are surprisingly comfortable, but wind noise creeps up as you head north of 60mph and the 101 horsepower 1.5-litre engine is much happier and more refined at slower speeds.

But let’s be absolutely clear, the Jimny is a car that will almost certainly be carefully chosen not for space or high-speed cruising, but for its ability to cope with just about any conditions off the beaten track. And that’s where it moves into a class of its own.

The no-nonsense black interior is simple, with a set of clear controls designed for quick and easy operation, even when wearing gloves. The instruments are set in square housings that are permanently lit for clearer viewing whatever the light conditions.

Practical touches are everywhere, from the roof edges which have drip rails to prevent water dripping into the cabin when opening or closing a door, to wheel arch extensions and side sill covers that protect the body from stone chips.

The rear lamps now sit in the bumper helping to make space for a wider rear door opening and the backs of the rear seats and floor are coated with plastic for easy removal of dirt or stains.

There are also luggage hooks around the floor area so items can be pinned down securely.

The Jimny is being sold in the UK in two high-specification trim levels – a far cry from the utilitarian three-seater Jimny of the distant past.

The SZ4 includes air conditioning, cruise control, dual sensor brake support, CD player with DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and front fog lamps.  The brake support system reads the road ahead and if it detects the risk of collision with a vehicle or pedestrian it sounds an audio and visual warning, increases braking force, or applies emergency braking depending on the situation.

Other functions included as standard are lane departure warning and weaving alert function which help you stay alert at the wheel, and high beam assist automatically switches between high and low beam.

Traffic sign recognition monitors the road ahead and when it detects road signs such as speed limits, it displays the sign as a reminder.

The car driven here, in even posher SZ5 trim, adds 15-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, climate control, navigation system with smartphone link and heated front seats.

It is its ability to cope with serious off-road work that has made the Jimny such a success worldwide.

Since it first appeared almost half a century ago, more than 2.8 million have been sold. It first appeared in the UK in 1998 with more than 42,000 sold here.

Suzuki says a new colour developed exclusively for the Jimny: a high-vis “Kinetic Yellow” was specially designed to stand out in bad weather or when in use on rough ground worksites, but we know they are only kidding – it’s simply because the colour is cool.

Auto facts

Model: Suzuki Jimny SZ5 ALLGRIP

Price: £17,999

Insurance group: Nine (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 35.8mpg

Top speed: 90mph

Length: 348cm/136.6in

Width: 164.5cm/64.6in

Luggage capacity: 13.3 cu ft (seatbacks folded)

Fuel tank capacity: 8.8 gallons/40 litres

CO2 emissions: 154g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles