Suzuki Ignis

Originally Published: July 2019

Compact, practical, efficient and an SUV – can the Ignis really tick all of these boxes?

As soon as you see the Suzuki Ignis, the one thing you know for certain is that it won’t be dull. It’s a funky car that breaks the norm of automotive design and is styled with playfulness in mind. The back may be an acquired taste, but true to Japanese form, the Ignis is refreshingly different, getting you on its side from the very beginning.

You’ll notice that it’s quite a tall car as well, considering it is supposed to slot into the city car sector. It’s narrower and shorter in length than a Mini Cooper, for example, both in terms of wheelbase and overall proportions, but the extra height bodes well for practicality.

This is the range-topping SZ5 model, which also boasts four-wheel drive capabilities and mild hybrid technology. So you can have a feisty little SUV, with hybrid levels of frugality and a very generous equipment list, all for the price of (at the time of writing) £14,849. That’s less than the entry-level Mini hatch, in case you were wondering.

So what do you actually get for the reasonable price tag, then? Well, let’s start with the engine. The Ignis is only available with a 1.2-litre Dualjet petrol engine producing 89bhp, although the lightweight SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki) system can be added to the mix. It’s a mild system and genuinely light at just 6.2kg, plus there’s no plug-in business here, instead the electric motor works in the background to fill in the blanks up and down the rev range with additional torque.

The result is a car that can easily return an average of 50mpg, even though the Ignis is actually a car that enjoys being chucked about. At just 860kg, despite possessing hybrid and four-wheel drive technology, the Ignis is a real featherweight that can zip around and revels in having its power unit thrashed.

It’s not quick, with a 0-62mph time of 11.5 seconds you won’t be scaring the armada of German saloons out there. However, it’s slick five-speed manual gearbox and light controls make it a blast to throw around and there’s sheer joy to be had in keeping the Ignis running on the boil.

The Allgrip four-wheel drive unit only adds 50kg itself and runs as a permanent, fully-automatic system to deliver extra torque to the rear wheels through a viscous coupling, should grip not be sufficient enough at the front.

If you do venture off-road, there’s Hill Descent Control to aid the navigation of slippery slopes, while Grip Control works at speeds under 18mph to shift torque towards the wheels with the most traction and keeps you progressing, whether its tough terrain or just wintery conditions in your way.

The Ignis doesn’t just make light work of tricky surfaces either. Inside you’ll find a cabin that is spacious considering its external dimensions. There’s useful legroom in the back and lots of headroom, plus the 50:50 rear seats have the neat feature of sliding forwards and backwards independently of each other, helping to prioritise legroom or boot capacity depending on the situation.

At 260 litres with the rear seats upright, the boot is more than up to the challenge of a weekly shop and further forwards there are usable cup holders and door bins for storing loose items.

The cabin is light, but fairly basic and certainly not an environment you’d label as plush. However, the materials feel durable and the quirky design has been carried through the interior, with the door handles and centre console being of particular note. It’s not the most refined, as evidenced on motorways, but the generous equipment list and low price make up for this.

Basic SZ3 models get Bluetooth and DAB radio as standard, the SZ-T version gains a rear-parking camera and those clever sliding rear seats, while the SZ5 trim gives you automatic air conditioning, keyless entry and start, LED headlights and satellite navigation.

You also get useful technology including Hill Hold Control, lane departure warning and Suzuki’s Dual Camera Brake Support, the latter of which uses two cameras to scan the road ahead and can apply the brakes autonomously to assist in preventing accidents.

Considering its price tag, the Suzuki Ignis really can surprise you with its abilities, even if it’s in areas you wouldn’t expect it to shine. It’s not a perfect vehicle, with its skinny tyres and short wheelbase making for an unsophisticated ride, but besides that the Ignis is a very capable machine.

It’s fun to drive, cheap to run, more practical than its rivals and cars bigger in size, plus it won’t break the bank to buy in the first place. If you’re looking for a small, fun car with personality to match its practicality, then you could do a lot worse than the Suzuki Ignis.

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