Funky Ignis is well priced too
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The more comprehensively equipped Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX - available in five-speed manual and five-speed automated manual transmission (AMT) - is styled up with 15” piano-black alloy wheels, wheel arch extensions, roof rails, and a black grille with chrome accents. The GL’s halogen headlights make way for projector-type LED designs with daytime running lights, and the car gets front fog lamps along with exterior mirrors with turn signal repeaters.
The GLX also offers keyless starting and fully automatic climate control, rear park distance control, and a height-adjustable driver’s seat, while the radio/CD system is boosted to six speakers and gains Bluetooth connectivity with multifunction buttons on the steering wheel.
The black-and-white dashboard and colour accents remain the same, but the GLX’s air vent louvres, gear shift knob and interior door handles feature silver and chrome finishes.
Digging into the Ignis options list gets you a centrally mounted colour touch-screen display which can be linked to iOS and Android smartphones, and then allows intuitive access to compatible apps such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. An SD card slot can be used to deliver map data, which enables on-board, real-time navigation.
The engine under the cute nose is a modest normally-aspirated 1.2-litre petrol but the Ignis subscribes to the Lotus school of extracting performance through lightweight design instead of mega-muscle.
With the car’s kerb mass of just 850kg (10kg more for the auto version) the 61kW/113Nm engine doesn’t have a lot of bulk to lug around and this translates to a generous power-to-weight ratio, with a sealevel acceleration figure quoted at 0-100km/h in 11.6 seconds (13 secs for the AMT).
The little car felt surprisingly eager when I drove it at the media launch in Cape Town, and if it feels even half as perky at power-draining high altitudes it’ll make for an appealing commuter in Gauteng too.
The Ignis isn’t confined to the urban streets and made an easygoing open-road cruiser at sea level, with a rated top speed of 165km/h and a slick five-speed manual that makes hustling through the gears an easy task. I didn’t get to drive the AMT auto, which has a 155km/h top speed.
It’s a fairly refined car, with little wind noise and no annoying buzziness to reveal the presence of a small engine. The little four-cylinder never sounds strained.
Fuel economy’s quoted at 5.1 litres per 100km/h for the manual and 4.9 litres for the AMT. The manual test-car I drove was averaging in the mid-sixes.
A cruise through the Western Cape’s urban streets, freeways and a short dirt section revealed this little Suzuki to be a competent all-rounder combining a comfortable ride with neat handling. Despite its short wheelbase the Ignis doesn’t have a too-choppy ride and it also felt self assured on dirt, with good bump-soaking ability from those high-profile tyres. The lightweight car didn’t feel tinny and cruised over bumps with a solid, rattle-free demeanour.
With its funky styling, surprising spaciousness and eager performance, the wellpriced Ignis is an endearing little crossover and Suzuki South Africa have themselves a definite Car of the Year contender.
PRICES: Ignis 1.2 GX - R169 900 Ignis 1.2 GLX - R189 900 Ignis 1.2 GLX AMT - R204 900
Prices include a three-year/100 000km warranty and two-year/30 000km service plan.
RIVALS: VW Cross Up - 55kW - R196 800 Renault Sandero Stepway Expression - 66kW - R174 900 Renault Sandero Stepway Dynamique - 66kW - R189 900 Toyota Etios Cross Xs - 66kW - R194 300
Interior styling is refreshingly different, and it’s surprisingly roomy inside.