Suzuki goes for the light touch with nim­ble Ig­nis

Wales On Sunday - - MOTORS WALES - IAN DON­ALD­SON news­desk@waleson­

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

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