Ig­nis help­ing out dur­ing Suzuki’s happy times

The Hutt News - - WHAT’S ON - ROB MAETZIG

Things are go­ing re­ally well for Suzuki in New Zealand – not only are ve­hi­cle sales soar­ing at more than three times the av­er­age for the to­tal new ve­hi­cle mar­ket, but the brand has just topped a na­tion­wide cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion sur­vey.

Suzuki was the clear win­ner in the 2017 Canstar Blue awards that rate ve­hi­cle re­li­a­bil­ity, driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, value for money, and point of sale and af­ter-sales ser­vice. It was awarded a max­i­mum five stars in all cat­e­gories – the only brand sur­veyed to achieve such a re­sult.

Canstar Blue is a cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion re­search and rat­ings busi­ness with a core pur­pose of help­ing con­sumers make bet­ter pur­chas­ing de­ci­sions.

Nat­u­rally Suzuki New Zealand is feel­ing very bullish about this re­sult, claim­ing the high level of cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion ex­plains why the Ja­panese brand com­mands a bet­ter than 30 per cent share of both the un­der $25,000 light car and un­der $40,000 small SUV classes – which in both cases is more than dou­ble the pen­e­tra­tion of the next-best brand in sales year-to-date.

In the small SUV class, Suzuki’s per­for­mance is aided by the fact it has more dif­fer­ent mod­els on sale than any other brand.

The big­gest seller is ac­tu­ally the Mit­subishi ASX, and other solid per­form­ers are the Honda HRV and the Mazda CX3. But Suzuki has four mod­els in there – Vi­tara, S-Cross, Ig­nis and Jimny – and it is that sheer weight of prod­uct that is giv­ing the brand the to­tal sales edge.

Vi­tara is the most pop­u­lar small Suzuki SUV, which makes sense con­sid­er­ing it is avail­able with the most vari­ants – fron­twheel drive and all-wheel drive, man­ual and auto trans­mis­sions, and with 1.6-litre and tur­bocharged 1.4-litre pow­er­trains.

But an­other model that has been go­ing very well since its launch ear­lier in 2017 is the lit­tle Ig­nis, which has been sell­ing at a rate of bet­ter than 100 a month.

This pint-sized Suzuki is a real cu­tie. The small­est SUV on the New Zealand mar­ket, it is avail­able with en­try GLX and more lux­u­ri­ous Lim­ited lev­els of spec­i­fi­ca­tion, and it is pow­ered by a 1.2-litre four cylin­der petrol en­gine that of­fers 66 kilo­watts of power and 120 new­ton me­tres of torque.

While that doesn’t sound like much, the Ig­nis ac­tu­ally has a rather good power-to-weight ra­tio thanks to its kerb weight of be­tween 820kg and 895kg, and that helps make it a snappy per­former.

It also boasts ex­cel­lent fuel econ­omy – the of­fi­cial fig­ures tell us the GLX ver­sion with man­ual trans­mis­sions av­er­ages just 4.7 L/100km, while all the oth­ers with their CVT auto av­er­age 4.9 L/100km. Lit­tle won­der then that the Ig­nis is pop­u­lar with fe­male mo­torists – some­thing which un­der­lines the re­sults of an­other re­search project un­der­taken by Canstar Blue, which asked 2500 New Zealan­ders about their de­ci­sion-mak­ing pro­cesses when buy­ing a new car.

This re­search showed that a high 62 per cent of women hes­i­tate to buy a ve­hi­cle that is not fuel-ef­fi­cient, com­pared to 54 per cent of men.

Is this be­cause women don’t feel at all re­stricted when it comes to buy­ing small, eco­nom­i­cal and cheer­ful cars, while men aren’t nec­es­sar­ily com­fort­able do­ing the same? Prob­a­bly. But what­ever the rea­sons, it is a fact that it is women who are the main pur­chasers of the Ig­nis.

Suzuki might claim the Ig­nis is an SUV (it de­scribes it as a su­per com­pact SUV), but it isn’t re­ally. It’s more of a cheer­ful lit­tle hatch­back just like some­thing such as the Suzuki Swift – it’s just that its bodyshell de­sign is taller and its ground clear­ance is a slightly higher 180mm.

This slightly taller de­sign does trans­late into im­proved ac­cess and higher seat­ing hip points, which does make life eas­ier for its tar­get mar­ket of women and re­tired cou­ples. The slightly higher ride height also means vis­i­bil­ity is good, and the very fact it is a small ve­hi­cle makes it a breeze to drive and park.

Over­all the Ig­nis feels very well put to­gether, with the Lim­ited fea­tur­ing six-speaker au­dio, a touch screen with satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, Ap­ple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a re­vers­ing cam­era.

At the Lim­ited level the Ig­nis also has cli­mate con­trol air con­di­tion­ing, au­to­matic dusksens­ing head­lights, LED day­time run­ning lights, key­less en­try with push-but­ton start, and pri­vacy glass. And from the safety per­spec­tive the lit­tle Suzuki also has elec­tronic sta­bil­ity pro­gramme, ABS brakes with brake as­sist, six airbags, and hill­hold as­sist.

This is an im­pres­sively high level of spec­i­fi­ca­tion for a ve­hi­cle that re­tails for $22,500. Lit­tle won­der then that this cheer­ful Ig­nis is so pop­u­lar.

The Suzuki Ig­nis is de­scribed by its maker as a ‘‘su­per com­pact’’ SUV. In other words, it is a lit­tle car.

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