Expert Reviews

First drive: Suzuki Ignis

Wednesday 14 December 2016

First drive: Suzuki Ignis

Nearly 10 years have passed since the previous generation of the Suzuki Ignis started rolling out of dealerships across the country.

The older model was successful in mustering up a fairly respectable number of loyal customers during the seven-year period that it was on sale, although it certainly wasn’t the most desirable thing on the road.

With the latest generation of Ignis, Suzuki is hoping this model will succeed where its predecessor did not – as being a desirable alternative to the offerings from Vauxhall and Fiat.

Looks & Image

Based on the Ignis’ looks, it would seem that Suzuki is off to a good start. The new car shares many design cues with the IM-4 concept that was previewed at the 2015 Geneva motor show, and it’s a rather cutesy looking thing.

It’s certainly a small car, although the hunkered down stance and somewhat flared wheel arches do help to make the Ignis look much more like a small crossover than a jacked-up city car, especially when compared with its rivals.

Cars in SZ-T and SZ5 trim look the most convincing in the metal, thanks to their roof bars and larger alloys. The SZ5, with its fog lamps and LED headlights, actually looks rather upmarket. There is also a nice tribute to the old Whizzkid from earlier times in the triangular motif on the rear pillar.

The cabin also ticks the right boxes. The materials are generally hard to the touch, and can be a tad flimsy in places, but overall, the interior feels incredibly well put together – as a city car should.

Brightly-coloured details and a nice two-tone dashboard help to improve the cabin’s ambience next to its rivals as well.

Space & Practicality

Despite the Ignis’ small size, practicality is decent. All variants come with five doors, and rear passengers have a good amount of head and legroom.

The boot isn’t exactly large – with only 260 litres of space on offer – but next to a Ka+, it is only lacking by 10 litres.

Ignis models equipped with the Dual Camera Brake Support system also managed to achieve the full five-star rating when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP. However, cars without this feature only managed three stars.

Behind the Wheel

Thanks to an intentionally high driving position, visibility out of the front and sides of the Ignis is brilliant, while getting in and out is a breeze. While the steering wheel can be adjusted for height but not reach, finding a comfortable driving position is still easy enough.

The car’s buttons and switches are all well thought out in terms of their location, and though the touch screen navigation system isn’t the quickest on offer, it’s still pretty simple to operate.

On the road, it’s obvious the Ignis has been set up for comfort as opposed to sportiness. The clutch, steering and gearbox are all light and easy to operate, making driving around tight urban spaces a breeze. Ride quality is commendable, while stability is good even at motorway speeds.

The optional four-wheel drive system means the Ignis should be able to cope on muddy fields and rugged tracks easily enough – especially when you consider the car’s 920kg kerbweight.

Value for Money

Even the basic SZ3 cars come with a decent amount of standard kit, including air conditioning, electric front windows and a DAB radio with Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

Cars in SZ-T trim gain 16-inch alloys, roof bars and a touchscreen sat nav system that also incorporates a reversing camera. The top-of-the-line SZ5 specification cars feature LED headlights, climate control and keyless entry to name but a few features.

If you take into account that there aren’t many cars at this price point that can be specified with four-wheel-drive, the Ignis starts to appeal even more. However, this is only available as an option on the SZ5 trim level.

Who would buy one ?

Suzuki claims that the Ignis almost occupies its own market segment – that being the “ultra-compact SUV” corner of the market. However, it is more like a city car-sized crossover.

Those people in the market for a regular city car will likely be drawn to the Ignis’ more rough-and-ready exterior, as well as its lower running costs and small size. It’s as easy to drive as its rivals, yet from a looks point of view, it stands out just a little bit more.

Out of town, those that live in the countryside will find the four-wheel-drive capabilities appealing. At the end of the day, the Ignis will more than happily cross a field in winter, but won’t be difficult to park up on the high street either.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Suzuki Ignis (£11,000)

Engine: 1.2-litre ‘Dualjet’ petrol

Transmission: Five-speed manual

Performance: 0-60mph: 11.2s, top speed: 106mph

Power: 88bhp, 120Nm

Economy: 65.7 (combined cycle)

Emissions: 97g/km

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