Suzuki Ig­nis

Our lit­tle 4x4 im­presses de­spite its rus­tic on-road man­ners

Autocar - - THIS WEEK -

Our 4x4 evokes mem­o­ries of the 1980s

In com­mon with most of my col­leagues, I like our Ig­nis. How­ever, hav­ing spent quite a long time in it, I’m not ex­actly sure why that is.

It looks great, of course, with its op­tional Fer­vent Red paint­work and those stylish black wheels. Its in­te­rior is funky too. I par­tic­u­larly like the clear, sim­ple in­stru­ments, the black and cream trim and the chrome door pulls. Its perky ex­te­rior de­sign was in­spired by one of Suzuki’s own tax­bust­ing Ja­panese ‘kei’ cars, the SC100 – a rear-en­gined 2+2 more pop­u­larly known as the Whiz­zkid, which in the 1980s was for a time of­fi­cially im­ported into the UK.

I loved the Whiz­zkid; in fact, I owned three of them. It was a 10ft 6in bun­dle of fun, and it was no taller than a bag of fish and chips. Maybe that’s why I ini­tially found the height of the Ig­nis a lit­tle hard to ac­cept: it’s a giddy 1595cm in height, which is taller than a Qashqai, although at 3700mm it’s nearly 700mm shorter. What wor­ried me be­fore I drove the Ig­nis for the first time was that the Whiz­zkid wasn’t ex­actly a paragon of road be­hav­iour – in fact, it was quite dread­ful – so just how well be­haved could this short and im­mensely tall, jacked-up SUV be?

In my time with the Ig­nis, I packed it with shop­ping (the boot is a good size), with pas­sen­gers young and old (there’s plenty of room in­side for four), crawled through com­mut­ing traf­fic, kept up with ev­ery­one on the A3 and even man­aged to get 47mpg from it. I learned that one soon shrugs off any doubts over its height, and in­stead learns to praise it for its good vis­i­bil­ity, aided in our hand­somely equipped SZ5 ver­sion by a rather use­ful rev­ers­ing cam­era. Af­ter all, for road use you’re (hope­fully) un­likely to en­counter a sit­u­a­tion where that height might af­fect your gen­eral swerv­abil­ity, and you’re very un­likely to take an Ig­nis round Sil­ver­stone…

So it be­gan to im­press me, which is odd be­cause on the road it doesn’t re­ally do any­thing es­pe­cially well. You’ll need to push it hard to make de­cent progress, and you’ll only no­tice the mild hy­brid drive sys­tem at all when the car grinds to an im­me­di­ate halt as soon as you lift off the throt­tle, when it starts to di­vert sur­plus en­ergy into its bat­tery.

In fact, from the driv­ing seat, I wasn’t aware of much else at all, other than I thought the steer­ing could do with slightly higher gear­ing to make it more truly fun. The only thing that is a mat­ter of ma­jor con­cern is the ride, which is pass­ably firm most of the time, but can be caught out badly by large ridges taken at speed, shak­ing both the car and its oc­cu­pants to their very core.

De­spite this, my pas­sen­gers all liked the car. I’m also told it’s quite good off road, but the only cir­cum­stance in which I think I would take the Ig­nis off road is if I hap­pened to lose con­trol of it half­way round a bend, some­thing I reckon you’d have to try quite hard to do.

Cur­rent Ig­nis evoked happy mem­o­ries of the 1980s Suzuki ‘Whiz­zkid’ for Mark Harsh ride can leave oc­cu­pants shaken, as this pic­ture at­tests

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