In one fell swoop, Suzuki has carved a new niche with the cute little Ignis – a mini crossover with arguably no direct competitors.
With bold and original styling, a punchy, economical engine, plus safety tech and four-wheel drive available, the Ignis is a pint-sized marvel.
Not to be confused with the largely forgettable hatchback of the same name last sold in 2008, the all-new Ignis is priced from just £9,999.
Instantly recognisable from all angles, it’s looks particularly cheeky from the front. However, it’s those chunky C pillars and its trapezoid, upright rear that will divide opinion. Whether its looks work for you or not, the Ignis stands out in so many other ways.
There are three trim levels – SZ3, SZ-T and SZ5. Standard features across the range include DAB radio, Bluetooth, air-conditioning, body-coloured wing mirrors and six airbags.
However, it’s worth looking over each grade in depth because some features such as the 7-inch touchscreen, cruise control and rear parking camera are not available on the base model, meaning that the mid-range SZ-T offers the best value.
At launch, the Ignis is available with a 1.2-litre Dualjet petrol engine, plus a slightly more powerful SHvS “mild” hybrid version of the same unit.
In a nutshell, SHvS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki) is a compact and lightweight system that acts as both a generator and starter motor, assisting the engine during vehicle take off and acceleration and also generating electricity through regenerative braking. In other words, it has a bit more oomph.
The basic 89bhp naturally-aspirated unit, which can be mated to a five-speed manual or automatic transmission, may not be the most powerful of engines, but thanks to the car’s light weight, it’s enough to propel it to 62mph in 13.5 seconds and a top speed of 106mph. On paper it’s capable of 61.4mpg, while CO2 emissions are a low 104g/km.
Go for the range-topping hybrid engine in the SZ5 and the 0-62mph comes down to 11.4 seconds, as do CO2 emissions to 97g/km, meaning that it’s road tax free too. As an added bonus, the economy goes up to 65.7mpg.
Inside, the Ignis is surprisingly spacious for such a small car. At 3.7 metres long and 1.7m wide, it’s closer to a Fiat 500 than a Nissan Juke, for instance.
The front seats are comfortable, the seating position is fairly high and there’s plenty of headroom for taller people thanks to the lofty roof. Obviously it’s cosier in the back, but it’s adequate for two adults which is more than you can say for most cars of this size. However, the car’s high waist, privacy glass and C pillar styling blot out some of the light in the back.
The SZ3 model has a fixed rear seat and a luggage area of 267 litres behind, but here’s the clever bit. The SZ-T and SZ5 models have a split rear seat and each one can slide 165mm to provide either greater luggage capacity or more rear passenger leg room.
There are no soft-touch premium plastics in this no-nonsense cabin, but what do you expect from a sub £10,000 car?
The instrument binnacle ahead of the driver is minimalist and functional, while the basic 7-inch touchscreen in the centre console does the job (ie sat nav, radio and full connectivity via Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Mirrorlink), even if it does look like a slight afterthought.
Opt for the flagship SZ5 model and you get Dual Camera Brake Support, which can detect objects (including pedestrians) in the car’s path, alert the driver and apply the brakes if necessary. This system enabled the SZ5 to be awarded a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP tests.
The Ignis is easy to drive with light steering and a tight turning circle, making it perfect for urban driving – its natural habit. Push it at higher speeds on more challenging roads and it’s a little more unsettled and there’s some body roll. That said, it will cruise quite happily on a motorway.
The engine is reasonably refined, but gets harsher when pushed. The mild hybrid version provides a slight power boost, meaning that the gears don’t have to be worked quite so hard.
Driven gently, the ride is fine, but it will bounce along at higher speeds or on uneven roads.
Complementing its cute styling, there’s also plenty of scope for personalisation with 11 colours choices available (two-tone Flame Orange Pear Metallic for me), plus interior trim options.
The clincher for some, especially if you live somewhere with more extreme weather conditions, might be the ALLGRIP ‘AUTO’ four-wheel drive option. It’s not a Land Rover, but it will offer more traction in slippery conditions or on rougher terrain. There’s even Hill Descent Control.
So the new Suzuki Ignis isn’t perfect, but it more than redeems itself in so many ways.
Verdict: Funky, surprisingly spacious, easy to drive, economical and competitively priced, it’s one of those classless cars that can fit in anywhere.
Review: @Gareth Herincx