The arrival of the Suzuki Ignis proves that great things do indeed come in small packages. For the compact Ignis is just 3.7 metres long, but every inch of space is utilised to create a first class, eye-catching small SUV that is bags of fun to drive.
The goodDesign, styling, value and handling
The badIn a fiercely competitive segment
Suzuki Ignis 1.2 Hybrid SZ5 4WD (2021)
Mention the small compact car segment and it tends to conjure up images of fairly drab vehicles with very little in the way of performance or personality.
But the Suzuki Ignis bucks that trend. Yes, it’s small in size which makes it ideal for city driving and no, it’s performance stats won’t leave you clinging to the side of the seat. However, the Ignis wins on so many other levels.
Firstly, it’s a fabulous looking four-door car and our range-topping SZ5 model was kitted out with all the latest technology. And it even has a price-tag that will keep you on speaking terms with your bank manager – or probably an app these days!
The Ignis SZ5 costs £17,999, increased to £18,649 with the addition of stunning Fervent Red paint on our car. It is powered by a punchy 1.2-litre, four-cylinder Dualjet petrol engine delivering 83PS and 107Nm of torque matched to a five-speed manual gearbox.
It can reach 62mph from a standing start in 12.8 seconds and has a top speed of 103mph. And, according to official figures under WLTP testing, the Ignis can deliver a combined 52.4mpg with carbon emissions of 121g/km.
The latest model, with hybrid technology, went on sale at the end of 2020 and certainly looks stylish in its design. Sitting on smart 16-inch alloy wheels, the car boasts rear privacy glass, roof rails, LED daytime running lights, front fog lamps, a black and chrome grille, along with rufty, tufty-looking wheel arch extensions.
Moving inside, the modern interior is bright, neatly laid out and generously equipped. Creature comforts include smartphone link with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a navigation system, Bluetooth, a four-speaker sound system, DAB digital radio, automatic air conditioning, a rear parking camera and cruise control with speed limiter.
Out on the open road, the Ignis handles deceptively well at top motorway speeds, although the engine noise levels do get quite vocal at 70mph. It has ample grip when fizzing through the country lanes, with minimal body sway and there were impressive levels of power on long hill climbs which was most reassuring.
It’s agile in busier town settings and parking the car, that measures just 3.7 metres in length, is a breeze.
Our test car also featured Suzuki’s ALLGRIP four-wheel drive system and that proved very capable as the car skipped across a fairly tame off-road course with ease. It had ample grip on slippery grass or gravel tracks and muddy climbs and drops posed no problems either.
Comfort levels are good too with enough room for a couple of passengers to sit in the back provided the front seats are not pushed back too far. Three children could squeeze in, but ideally two would fit better without any complaints.
The boot can swallow 204 litres of kit with all seats in an upright position, but this capacity can be increased to 1,086 litres with the 50:50 split-fold and sliding rear seats dropped down. For convenience, there are two cupholders up front and one in the rear, door bins, a seat back pocket and a removable, double height boot floor.
Safety features on the car are comprehensive with the likes of anti-lock brakes with brake assist, hill hold control and hill descent control, foot protecting brake and clutch pedals, Isofix child seat anchors, dual camera brake support, childproof rear door locks, a tyre pressure monitoring system and six airbags.
All in all, the latest Ignis is a small car that is big on appeal, big on charisma and big on style. And with the latest hybrid technology factored in, the vehicle is also more economical to run these days too.
Suzuki Ignis – first drive (2016)
We just can’t get enough of compact SUVs these days so it comes as little surprise that Suzuki – a company steeped in off-road heritage – has entered the arena with the impressive new Ignis model.
This fabulous little car measuring just 3.7 metres in length is well packaged, boasts funky styling, is great fun to drive and even promises to be kind on the pocket.
Obviously the Suzuki brand is no newcomer to the SUV scene and has built on all its expertise in the field to develop the Ignis, which takes its inspiration from the Swift and Vitara and looks smart and eye-catching from any angle. It features a distinctive front face with a clamshell bonnet, a strong front grille, flared wheel arches, LED lights, chunky shoulders and roof rails.
Despite its compact dimensions, the interior is deceptively spacious with ample room for four adults to stretch out in style. In addition, the two individual rear seats can slide backwards and forwards to create either extra leg room or additional storage space in the boot to suit needs.
Elsewhere the list of creature comforts and techno treats is impressive and depending on the model chosen, include the likes of DAB radio with Bluetooth, sat nav, a 7-inch colour touchscreen with full smartphone connectivity, heated seats, air conditioning, a rearview camera and plenty more besides.
There is just one engine available – a 1.2-litre Dualjet 90bhp petrol unit – which was previously seen in the recently-launched Baleno. However, customers can select from three richly-equipped trims called SZ3, SZ-T and SZ5 and also opt for Suzuki’s SHVS mild hybrid set-up, along with an ALLGRIP four-wheel drive system. There are auto or manual transmissions too.
With a choice of 11 colours to choose from and full personalisation options available for both exterior and interior trim, buyers can certainly stamp their own individual mark on the car. This is clear indication that the Ignis aims to win over fans from the likes of the Vauxhall Adam, Fiat 500 and even MINI, which all offer a vast range of personalisation packs.
And with prices starting from just £1 shy of £10k, the Ignis seems to have all bases covered.
We tested a couple of Ignis models on the sweeping roads around Rome and although the hybrid version is only likely to account for about 10 to 15 per cent of sales initially, it was that model in range-topping SZ5 spec with ALLGRIP that we drove first.
This SHVS five-speed manual model would be at the highest end of the budget scale costing £13,999 and can reach 62mph from a standing start in 11.5 seconds, tops out at 103mph, achieves combined fuel economy of 60.1mpg with carbon emissions of 106g/km.
The first thing that has to be said about the Ignis is how fun and funky the car looks – it’s quirky but not in a bad way. It looks fresh, modern and neatly proportioned. And when you step inside it’s like a Tardis. There is easily enough room for six-footers to sit one behind the other without being cramped at all.
The instrumentation is neatly laid out and all controls, buttons and dials are perfectly positioned for ease of use.
Our driving route included some motorways, steep winding mountain roads and some brutally unforgiving country lanes which made our UK network seem smooth.
But in fairness to the Ignis, whatever was thrown at the car, it coped exceptionally well. The acceleration is good although not blistering and the more testing ascents did mean some frequent gear changes to maintain momentum, but that aside it worked really well. Then on the motorways it easily held its own with fast-paced traffic and there was always ample power on tap to overtake when required.
The ride is a little hard and there is a little engine and road surface noise when pushed particularly hard, but to be honest it was fairly minimal and the sound system can easily drown out any outside interference.
Next up was the 2WD model in SZ-T grade (without the hybrid system) with manual gearbox priced at £11,499. This car can reach from 0-62mph in 12.2 seconds, maxes out at 106mph, has combined fuel efficiency of 61.4mpg with carbon emissions of 104g/km.
This model certainly seemed livelier than the first test car and displayed a little more enthusiasm when climbing steep tracks. It is probably down to the fact that it carries less weight than the ALLGRIP hybrid model.
Once again it proved a delight to drive and whizzed through quiet villages turning heads as it passed and then it really opened up on fast country roads. The Ignis feels super grippy too and that means there is very little body roll into bends.
And when you factor in the 180mm ground clearance and tight 9.4-metre turning circle, the Ignis is also agile and quite effective off-road on grassy tracks.
The Ignis also boasts a broad range of safety specifications which become more comprehensive as you move up through the grades. There are the likes of dual camera brake alert to detect vehicles and pedestrians, hill-hold control, hill descent control, lane departure and weaving warning and much more. In recent testing the SZ5 models have been awarded the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety ratings, while lower specced cars have achieved a three-star rating.
So the new Ignis is a very welcome newcomer to the compact SUV sector and Suzuki aims to sell up to 8,000 models in its first full year targeting a young, female and trendy audience. After our first experience behind the wheel, it could well exceed all expectations.