Micro meets pseudo
Suzuki sets out to make its mark among light cars and potentially creates a new niche — price, space and performance are on the money
SUZUKI has designs on the light car segment and it has to look the goods. That’s a big shift from a car company that has forged a reputation for well-engineered vehicles but the Ignis micro SUV was penned with personalisation in mind.
If there’s a metallic-looking bezel or strip on or in the Ignis, it’s a safe bet you can visit the dealer and have it coloured to match or contrast your chosen paint colour. Even the black alloy wheels can have coloured inserts and that’s before we start on spoilers,
Drive-away pricing starts at $16,990 for the base GL with a five-speed manual, with continuously variable transmission adding $1000. The GLX is CVT-only and can be driven away for $19,990.
The GL rides on 15-inch steel wheels and has cruise control, power windows and a 60-40 folding rear seat. The GLX steps it up with 16-inch alloys, better bolstered front seats, 50-50 folding rear seats that can also slide and recline, keyless start, auto headlamps and aircon.
Suzuki Australia general manager Andrew Moore says the Ignis fuses design cues from hallmark Suzuki models with modern packaging and convenience. Convenience these days means connectivity so the infotainment software includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The packaging is first-rate with good head and legroom for four adults and with all seats in use there’s more than 260L of cargo space.
Suzuki calls the Ignis a micro SUV and justifies the tag by noting the car’s 180mm of ground clearance is better than a Mazda CX-3, along with the fact an all-wheel drive version will arrive later this year.
Others will see it as a highriding hatch. Either way it is chasing sales against everything from a Fiat 500 to a Ford EcoSport.
Moore predicts city dwellers and suburbanites will buy about 400 examples of the Ignis each month. “The obvious market is the image-conscious singles and couples in their 20s and 30s, along with empty-nesters,” he says.
ON THE ROAD
The 1.2-litre four-cylinder in the Ignis may be naturally aspirated but it is far from asthmatic. With outputs of 66kW/120Nm the Suzuki never threatens to smoke the tyres but there’s always enough torque on tap to get the job done.
The lightness of the Ignis is a large reason for the better than expected acceleration — a CVT-equipped car is 865kg, giving it a better power-to-weight ratio than the stablemate Swift.
Softly sprung suspension and the high ride — the front seat hip point is 615mm from the ground — give the Ignis the impression of leaning through corners but the degree of roll is less than most small SUVs.
The turning circle is a pleasing 9.4 metres and the only reservation Carsguide has is the occasional flare in the CVT (to be fair the test cars had very few kilometres on board).
Other than that, the variable transmission performed well for off-the-line and mid-range acceleration, with better engine braking than most CVTs.
Hammer the throttle and droning — the Ignis tends to range between 4000-5000rpm — is the audible companion until you get under about 70 per cent load. The rest of the time the car is acceptably muted, with a hint of road and wind noise the only companions at freeway speeds.
The braking is progressive — a Suzuki trait in cars and bikes alike — and the steering is light enough to navigate through in shopping centres without affecting a reasonable level of feel through the wheel.
Claimed fuel consumption is 4.9L/100km. Over 300km in a GLX, Carsguide returned 6.0L.
It is no powerhouse — wait for the anticipated turbo version for more go — but the Ignis is a well-priced alternative to just about everything in the light car segment. At the moment it is a pseudo-SUV but the AWD variant will add authenticity, if not off-road capability.