Smile-inspiring compact which blends SUV with a hatch
Drivers used to have a deep-seated relationship with their cars.
The long-gone car-building techniques often delivered quirks and performance which developed individuality.
Modern cars have become more reliable and tech-laden, almost to the point where personality has been lost. Look at the raft of SUVs — selecting one can be like splitting hairs as each have a similar shape, features and space.
That can’t be said about the Suzuki Ignis. Blending hatch and SUV styles, the unique pint-sizer is brimming with old-school character. It’s a car which generated smiles everywhere we travelled last week.
Recently updated, Suzuki revised the look with a bolder grille that sits lower, as well as a new lower panel below the hatch door and a different bumper.
Measuring just 3.7 metres long and less than 1.7m wide, it remains one of the smallest offerings on the market. And with drive-away prices starting from less than $20,000 with an automatic transmission, it is also still one of the bargain new-car buys.
The GL starts from less than $20k, but we sampled the GLX which adds $1000 to the bottom line.
It’s well worth the investment. For the extra coin it has push-button start, automatic aircon, 16-inch alloys (far better compared to steel wheels) and LED headlamps. Other equipment highlights are a seven-inch touchscreen featuring smartphone mirroring applications Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control, leather-covered steering wheel and tinted windows.
New colour additions include ivory, khaki and black. Also available on the colour wheel are white, red and grey. Depending on external hue, the Ignis comes with either dark blue or silver interior accents — but our test car stood out from the crowd with every accessory box ticked.
“This Ignis has been dressed up with the full gamut of accessories to display the levels of personalisation which are available to meet a diverse range of tastes,” said Suzuki Queensland general manager of sales and marketing Stephen Craig.
“They include colour-co-ordinated and contrasting effects on the grille, wheels, arm rest, door grips, mats, a rear spoiler as well as decals on the body sides and interior garnishes.”
Collectively all the extra gear added up to more than $3570.
Servicing is among the least expensive you’ll find, with an averaged capped price of $293 over five years with annual or 15,000km intervals.
Suzuki Queensland is currently offering a $250 Coles Myer gift card as part of the deal.
Compared to more modern vehicles, here is where the Ignis struggles.
There is no official crash rating from ANCAP as sales volumes are low. Given it lacks the autonomous emergency braking functionality which can slow or stop the car if the driver fails to act and it also doesn’t warn you if straying across lines without indicating, the chances of a five-star assessment would be zero.
Only the basic gear like six airbags, stability control and rear-view camera are included.
Given the dimensions, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Ignis is one step beyond a go-kart. Yet the pint-sizer bats well about its average for internal space.
Nicely bolstered front seats offer support, and while the back pew is relatively flat there is enough room for two adults. Two growing teens had no complaints in the rear for head and legroom but those in the front have to be mindful of not shifting too far rearward.
There are few complications in terms of operations.
Using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto offers the latest and greatest innovations by integrating your vital smartphone applications through the car’s infotainment system. Once used, you never go back thanks to hands-free access to music, messages and phone calls.
One key function missing is a digital speedo. While the driver has a multi-function trip computer showing fuel range, consumption and average speed, the digital speedo would be a useful addition.
Dual cup holders in the console look after the takeaway coffee (another one in the rear), while each door can also handle a bottle.
In the GLX the rear seats fold 50-50 and the Ignis even managed a 5’8 surfboard. The family’s weekly grocery shop proved more challenging as about five bags filled the 264L boot.
Numbers on paper fail to inspire. Yet the little four-cylinder engine does a mighty job of propelling the Ignis in all circumstances.
Generating just 66kW, which is below half that of a Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport, the little Suzuki is surprisingly deft.
From a standing start it gets away nicely.
Despite having a continuously variable automatic transmission — notorious for poor performance — the acceleration is linear and responsive. Only when you flatten your right foot does the engine noise outweigh the result as it takes time to meet driver expectations.
Yet the steering feel is accurate and that pint-size platform excels in the urban jungle. Parking is a breeze and the Ignis can make a U-turn in less than nine metres (nearly half the space required in some dual-cab utes).
Sitting next to trucks on the highway quickly reminds you of the diminutive proportions, but the Ignis is geared wonderfully and cruises at about 2000rpm at 100km/h. Our average fuel consumption was 5.4L/100km … and the 32-litre tank was filled from empty with $30.
Size matters and the Ignis punches above its weight in most areas. Some of the lowest running costs around seal the deal.
Hatches aren’t really my thing, and most SUVs look same-same to me. Every time I stare at the Ignis it generates a smile.
Kia Picanto GT-Line $19,490 D/A
Fun little performer with some sporting touches, but the Kia has far better safety credentials including AEB and a seven-year warranty. Powered by a 1.2-litre 4-cyl generating 62kW/122Nm.
Skoda Fabia 81TSI DSG $20,990 D/A
Another underrated offering from the Skoda stable, the Fabia is a great drive. Also has AEB and a solid features list. Although it doesn’t have the Suzuki’s funky looks. Under the bonnet is an 81kW/175Nm 1.0-litre turbo 3-cyl with a seven-speed auto.
Engaging looks ensure the Ignis stands out from a cookie-cutter crowd. Safety credentials need to be updated to modern standards. But the drive experience remains as fun and funky as the exterior.
AT A GLANCE
Suzuki Ignis GLX Auto
PRICE $20,990 drive-away (competitive in genre)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 5yr unlim’ km w’ty (good); $1465 5 yrs (awesome)
ENGINE 1.2-litre 4cyl 66kW/120Nm (good power to weight)
SAFETY No ANCAP rating, 6 airbags, rear view camera, stability control (needs improvement)
THIRST 4.9L/100km (5.4L on test)
SPARE Space-saver (standard)
BOOT 264L, seats fold (small)
Console red $186.32
Mat set $77.63
Cap, wheel centre $269.76
Body side decal $468.71
Decal set, wheel, red $121.96
Cover set, mirror, red $121.96
Garnish set, louvre, red $243.99
Door grip set, red $133.07
Spoiler, roof end, red $621.04
Garnish, console box $186.29