“Funny little car,” said my mother-in-law, settling into the front passenger seat of the Suzuki Ignis we had on loan last week. “Do you like it?
Neil Lyndon gets to grips with the Suzuki Ignis Allgrip
“Yes, I do like it quite a lot,” I answered, “but there’s no denying it is quirky.”
“We don’t hear a lot about Suzuki, do we?” she said.
“No, that’s true: but I think we probably ought to hear a lot more. They have an outstanding record for build quality, are exceptional value for money and very popular with their owners.” That exchange could wrap up most things that need to be said about the Ignis. From this point, therefore, further discussion is likely to be an elaboration on these themes.
So let’s continue…
The funny little car is undoubtedly on the nail. Styled in the manner of a Tonka toy – with flared arches, stubby snout and bulbous rear bumper beneath narrow tailgate – the Ignis has more than a hint of the Smart about its stance and character. Barely bigger than Suzuki’s everlasting Jimny – just 3.7m long, 1.69 wide and 1.6 tall – the 2017 Ignis is a city-oriented compact SUV that is a rival for the Fiat Panda, Renault Captur and Ford EcoSport and distinctly holds its own in that company.
The high-tensile steel chassis is the same as in the latest Baleno, but the Ignis’s titchy dimensions make it lighter: at 1330kg, gross weight is little more than my mother-in-law (with apologies both to mother-in-law and to Les Dawson). This factor, together with the Ignis’s relatively tall roof, may contribute to a certain skittishness in the ride, not entirely mitigated by nerveless steering.
The 1.2 Dualjet engine is standard throughout the Ignis range (the only variation being the “mild” [aka lifeless] hybrid version also available in the Baleno which uses a belt-driven integrated starter/generator and a second lithium-ion battery to enhance warm starts, take-off and acceleration). In our fully-loaded SHVS SZ5 version, with Suzuki’s Allgrip 4wd system that supplies power to all four wheels as required by road conditions. That little powerplant with only 90 PS performs perfectly adequately when propelling granny as a passenger round the town but rapidly turns into hard work with the five-speed manual gearbox when it is pushed around on country roads.
If I were in the market for this car, however, I am not convinced the Allgrip system would be worth the premium of a couple of grand and reckon I would settle for a two-wheel drive version. That’s because it would be absurd to judge this car in terms of driver involvement. The interests of fairness and relevance demand that it be seen primarily a style object for urban use.
In those terms, the Ignis stacks up nicely. With an abundance of standard equipment, the interior is the first departure that I can remember from Suzuki’s long-lasting commitment to the principle that you can have any colour so long as it’s plastic in unrelieved black. The contrasting black and white panels in our Ignis were a positive lift to the spirits as were the chrome door handles. I made full use of the double-height floor in the load area and the sliding and folding rear seats when I used the Ignis to lug a load of cardboard to the dump and this proved that a couple going on holiday could take enough luggage for a month in this car.
My average of 53.4 mpg was almost within touching distance of Suzuki’s claimed 60.1 mpg and – as usual – the difference may be largely attributable to my giving the car a bit of stick on country roads.
In conclusion, as I was saying to granny, the decisive attractions of the Ignis remain those which apply across the board to Suzuki cars in general: compared with the opposition, you will be hard-pressed to get a better, more reliable or more extensively equipped car at a better price. The fact that Suzuki are only aiming to sell around 6000 of them a year – and that, therefore, an Ignis will remain almost as rare as a Porsche – may be an advantage.
Car reviewed: Suzuki Ignis 1.2 SHVS SZ5 4W – Base Price On the road £14,499 with options £15,149 0-62mph 11.5 secs Top speed 103mph Fuel Economy combined 60.1mpg CO2 emissions 106g/km Engine 1242cc 4-cylinder dual jet Max Power [email protected] rpm Torque [email protected] Transmission 5-speed manual with ALLGRIP 4-wheel drive
Well equipped as standard
Great value and reliability
Love it or hate it styling