Suzuki Ignis dinky car with big character and sense of fun
PUBLISHED: 10:02 12 February 2017
Suzuki's small car know-how and four-wheel drive expertise make the revived Ignis as much fun to drive and live with as it looks, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
A mini car with chunky sport utility vehicle looks – Suzuki’s revived Ignis is as cute as the original was worthy, but dull.
The Ignis, like some other Suzuki cars, straddles different sectors of the market - small cars take 31%, crossovers and SUVs, the fastest-growing segment, 21%. That’s a major selling point in its quest to shift 6,000 a year in the UK.
As for the love or loath looks, they’re no bad thing either. They make the Ignis stand out against distinctive rivals - Fiat 500, Vauxhall Adam Rocks, Toyota Aygo and Renault Twingo – and make it a talking point.
Looks and image
The dinky Ignis is prettier in the metal, picking up retro styling cues, like the three strokes on the rear pillar, from the SC100 ‘Whizzkid’ from the late Seventies.
This compact crossover looks better from the front with headlamps like big eyes while mid-spec SZ-T and SZ5 benefit from contrasting wheel arch extensions and side mouldings, roof rails and black alloy wheels. Bright vibrant colours work well, and there are two-tone models with a metallic black roof and interior and exterior colour personalisation options.
Under the bonnet
Just one choice – a 90PS, 1.2-litre Dualjet but range-topping SZ5 manual is also offered with a mild hybrid version for front-wheel and four-wheel drive models.
Called SHVS (smart hybrid vehicle by Suzuki), an integrated starter generator acts as both generator and starter motor and boosts the engine under acceleration, recharging the battery when slowing down or braking.
The peppy engine revs happily, just as well as not a lot happens low down, but doesn’t sound thrashy and returned MPG in the mid 50s.
On paper, the four-wheel drive hybrid is quicker off the mark but the extra 50kg tells in an ultra light car from 810kg.
How it drives
A new lighter, more rigid platform and wheels pushed out to the corners make for a well-mannered drive. Light steering takes the strain out of parking without being lifeless at speed.
The soft, supple suspension generally sorts out rough surfaces and undulating roads with good body composure at speed but, even with the bias towards comfort, it handles twisty roads well – there’s some body lean in fast corners but bags of grip.
If you need extra traction, the SZ5’s Allgrip 4x4 system, with hill-descent and grip control, is worth the extra £1,000.
Space and practicality
It’s a roomy, little rascal, able to carry four six-foot adults – we did and everyone was amazed.
Entry-level SZ3 gets a three-seat rear bench but the narrow body is cosy for two large adults up front - so it would only take three children. Better to go for the big-seller SZ-T and range-topping SZ5 with two rear seats that each slide through 160mm to boost legroom.
The 50/50 rear seat backs fold flat but there’s a step up from the 4x4 model’s 204-litre boot and an even bigger one on front-wheel drive models with a deeper 260-litre boot.
At the wheel
I like the two-tone black and white fascia, orange or titanium trim panels depending on body colour on door handles and around the gearstick, and simplicity of the instruments and controls with a large touch screen on SZ-T and SZ5. A decent glovebox, cubbyholes and cupholders provide useful storage.
The wheel adjusts only for height but SZ-T and SZ5 get a height-adjustable driver’s seat and reversing camera – chunky rear pillars and a small screen limit visibility. They also get rather dated Pioneer satellite navigation which is slow to react.
Suzuki is good at small cars and simple four-wheel drive and they come together in the Ignis. Add lots of standard kit and character for not a lot of money, and affordable PCPs, and the Ignis shouldn’t have much trouble wooing small car owners and younger drivers.
Price: Suzuki Ignis 1.2SZ-T £11,499 (range £9,999 to £13,999)
Engine: 1,242cc, 90PS, four-cylinder petrol
Performance: 0-62mph 11.8 seconds; top speed 106mph (SHVS mild hybrid Allgrip 4x4 11.1 seconds)
MPG: Urban 51.3; extra urban 68.8; combined 61.4 (SHVS 4x4 54.3, 64.2, 60.1)
CO2 emissions: 104g/km (SHVS 4x4 106g/km)
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 17% (18%)
Insurance group: 15E (18E) (out of 50)
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 3,700mm; W 1,690mm; H 1,595mm