For a big sky ride
ALWYN VILJOEN finds the new little Suzuki Ignis really does like going off the highways
“YOU must just write Adidas under there,” said the petrol attendant as he tanked up the Suzuki Ignis five-speed manual in Beaufort West.
The fuel jockey was referring to the faux air vents on the C-Pillar that reminded him of the Adidas logo, but which Suzuki said pay homage to the air intake grills of the rear-engined Suzuki Fronte Coupé — a pocket rocket of note in its day. The fuel tank swallows just over 30 litres, meaning I got to meet a lot of petrol attendants on a long test drive from Cape Town to KZN in Suzuki’s latest offering.
En route, I quickly found the one thing I did not like at all in the hatch — a ridge on the hard plastic of the door handle. After a few hours of driving, this ridge presses into a male driver’s right knee to the point where I started driving like a girl, knees together, which had me wondering if this was designed as a city girl’s hatch.
But Charl Grobler, manager of sales and product planning at Suzuki Auto SA did boast at the launch this little hatch would also prove willing and able over gravel. So I took it there — and Grobler was right.
The top of the range Ignis likes getting its 15-inch boots dusty.
Its 180 mm ground clearance is not really high enough for rocky roads, but a kerb weight of only 850 kg on those thin tyres meant the Ignis just sliced through mud — like a Nissan 1400 of yore. The lightweight construction and rigid platform also ensures the little hatch reacts nimbly to any steering inputs. So make this a car designed for city girls who don’t mind getting a bit dirty.
In city traffic the 1,2-litre fourcylinder engine (which also does service in the Suzuki Swift 1.2) returned 6,6 km/100 — or 15 km to a litre. On a slow stretch of road works the best I got was 4,1, but the average open road consumption was 5,9 l/100, or 16 km per litre.
The 1 197 cc engine in the Ignis makes 61 kW at 6 000 rpm for a power-to-weight ratio of 71,65 kW/ton. But it is torque that gets one past the trucks, and while 113 Nm at 4 200 rpm is good for a small engine, it needed downshifting into the long second gear to get moving. I did not drive the automated manual gearbox, but suspect it will require much the same high revving treatment.
While happy on gravel and nimble in mud, this runner-up in the World Urban Car Award comes into its own in the city, where it turns on a dime and offers enough leg and more importantly, head room for two friends in the rear seats.
The rear doors open over 70 degrees for easy entry, and the boot swallows 260 litres with the seats up and 469 litres with the rear seatback folded flat.
Standard items across all models include electric windows, remote central locking, air-conditioning, electric power steering, and an MP3-compatible CD sound system with USB port and 12V socket. The Bluetooth system is not exactly intuitive and the USB port is not powered, meaning you will get to use that 12 Volt socket.
These niggles were, however, quickly forgotten when I finally got to use the projector-type LED lights on the GLX model on a dark but busy N1.
This lighting system is simply the best I’ve experienced in the sub R190 000 price range and to my mind these lights alone are well worth the R20k price difference between the GL and GLX models. The new Suzuki Ignis is covered by a standard three-year/100 000 km warranty, and as a two-year/30 000 km service plan.
Services are at 15 000 km or at 12 month intervals.