Suzuki goes for the light touch with nimble Ignis
O NE of the most influential racing car designers said his aim at the drawing board was to ‘add lightness’. That philosophy helped the late Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus, produce a run of winning cars that still reverberate through the history of motor racing.
He proved that winning came from keeping things light – cars go faster, use less fuel and are nicer to drive if they’re nimble.
Which brings us, in however unlikely a fashion, to today’s test car. It would be hard to think of something less like a Lotus than Suzuki’s little Ignis, but under the skin they share one defining characteristic – lightness.
A Bentley Bentayga is a massive and fast car and weighs more than 2.5 tonnes – or about three Suzukis on the scales.
You’ll be lucky to see 20mpg in the Bentley. Driving the Ignis as though my trousers were on fire failed to drag the trip reading below 60mpg and even better was easily available with a little restraint.
The lightness of this pretend SUV translates into a car that feels livelier than you might expect from its unspectacular power output. There’s a nimble way it reacts to steering input, too, making the Ignis feel keen to please in the manner of an enthusiastic puppy.
This lack of weight is likely to have big payback over long-term ownership too, with tyres and brakes lasting for ages because they have so little work to do.
The Ignis is a small family hatch disguised with hints of beefy off-roader, or what the trade calls a crossover. And car buyers can’t get enough of this style at the moment, witnessed by an ava- lanche of new models. Building it a bit taller than normal means more room inside, especially in the back, where a six-footer can sit comfortably behind his twin brother. There can’t be a more spacious car on the market that fills the modest shadow cast by the Ignis.
All five versions of the Ignis, with prices from £10,499 for the SZ3, use the same 1.2-litre 89bhp petrol engine, although a couple are available with a modest boost from a small battery powered generator, helping the car during acceleration.
Every Ignis gets air conditioning, DAB radio with Bluetooth and front electric windows. They won’t sell many of those, with likely most popular Ignis the next grade up.
The SZ-T version adds rear view camera, alloy wheels, roof rails and plastic wheel arch extensions and LED headlamps. It also has twin rear seats that can slide forward to boost boot room, or back to let the lanky of leg relax.
Early SZ-T models had a deeply frustrating satellite navigation system as standard – now you’ll need a £199 SD card upgrade to be shown the way home, but it ought to work better.
The interior is at least as striking as the bodywork outside.
It’s obviously built down to a cost but attention to detail in matching surfaces and keeping panel gaps tight in these Japanese-built machines is pleasingly obvious.
Yes, there’s lots of hard plastic on show and the seats could wrap around you a bit more, but this a keenly priced car that’s actually fun to drive and much more spacious than it looks. Not attributes to be lightly dismissed.
The SZ-T version adds rear-view camera, alloy wheels, roof rails, plastic wheel arch extensions and LED headlamps