► Suzuki resurrects the Ignis name
► Fun styling, competitive price
► But more than a few shortcomings
When we first clapped eyes on Suzuki’s reinvention of the Ignis at the Paris motor show, the opinion in the office was optimistic. Sure, it’s more crossover-y than ever before, but there’s no denying the new design is a lot of fun.
It finds itself sat in an area of the market without much competition, which is surprising considering how quickly the B-SUV sector continues to grow. The Ford Ka+ is probably closest in concept, but Suzuki reckons it’ll tempt buyers from the Vauxhall Adam Rocks, Fiat’s best-selling 500 and even BMW’s ever-popular Mini. Stop laughing at the back, please.
Thing is, the Ignis looks set to undercut all of those cars on the forecourt. Pricing’s going to be announced shortly after this article’s publication, but we’ve been led to expect the entry-level SZ-3’s price will start with a 10.
Tell us more about that design…
It’s been penned to evoke memories of ‘iconic’ (this word was banded about a lot on the launch) Suzukis of yore. Yep, you read that right: there are shades of the ever-ready Jimny there, but the main inspiration was the Giugiaro-designed rear-engined SC100 ‘Whizzkid’ kei car once owned and championed by revered CAR columnist LJK Setright.
That’s what the three diagonal lines on the overly wide C-pillar are meant to hark back to, anyway.
Is it a whizzkid to drive?
In some ways yes, and in many, no. This car’s based on the same platform as the ugly-yet-likeable Baleno – dubbed Suzuki Next 100 – and that means it weighs about as much as a spanner. In fact, in some guises it tips the scales at just 810kg, so you’d be forgiven for expecting great things from the handling.
Its steering is admittedly very sharp, and while you don’t get much sense of what’s going on under the skinny front tyres, its lack of heft means it’s keen to switch trajectory.
It can’t match the Smart Fortwo’s turning circle (a car that’ll U-turn around a tent peg), but we found the Ignis very manoeuvrable in town, which is unreservedly its natural stomping ground.
Head out onto the motorway and the tall Ignis catches the wind like a kite, eliciting worrying corrective action from the driver as this featherweight tries its level best to change lanes by itself.
Is the engine line-up extensive?
Nope. Powering every Ignis is Suzuki’s four-pot 1.2-litre Dualjet petrol motor, available with or without the SHVS system, which the marketing bumf calls a mild hybrid system and we call a glorified stop-start arrangement.
We’d go without SHVS – which confusingly stands for Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki – because it detracts from the driving experience in the name of a handful of grams of CO2. It has the effect of dulling the already staid power delivery of the motor, and with performance figures as pedestrian as the Ignis’s, that’s a sacrifice too far.
We noticed a curiously pronounced effect on the ride quality with the CO2-saving tech on board, too, with far less compliance on SHVS-equipped cars (tested in both front- and four-wheel drive derivatives) than is necessary. Over poor road surfaces it was simply uncomfortable, and hitting a bump too hard it felt like the chassis was going to bend.
The sole gearbox we’ve tried so far is a perfectly functional five-speed manual. There’s an automated version of the same box on offer too for those that need or want it, and thankfully no CVT in sight.
What about the Boosterjet?
Ah, the brilliant three-pot from the Baleno, you mean. No. You can’t have that in the Ignis. It’s too expensive to engineer into this cheaper car, according to the firm’s representatives, despite using the very same platform.
We can’t help thinking that’s a crying shame, because it would dramatically improve the character of what is ostensibly a quirky-looking car with fairly humdrum underpinnings.
What about inside?
The dash is a curiously busy two-tone hard plastic design; black on top and white on the bottom. Adding to this are colour-customisable air vents (carbonfibre-effect in our car, naturally) and cup-holder surround in the centre console – a feature that feels like it was made from the cheapest plastic this side of a packet of clingfilm. In fact, since your leg rests upon it, we can’t see this lasting more than a few thousand miles before something snaps.
This random approach to fascia arrangement is all the more catastrophic thanks to the touchscreen, which looks very much like an aftermarket affair with a thick black perimeter tacked on. Apparently you can control the screen wearing gloves, which perhaps hints at the sorts of buyers who’ll actually get an Ignis, regardless of the ‘funky’ customisation options on offer.
And don’t even try to use the sat-nav in a hurry. It takes far too long to boot up and ask anything taxing of the maps – such as zooming in and out quickly – and it throws an almighty wobbly.
Rear passengers may prefer you pick an Ignis in a spec above base, because you’ll want the sliding and reclining individual seats to make life a little more comfortable when sat in the dimly lit back. You’ll have a lot of headroom regardless of where you sit, though.
Oh, and one final point: Euro NCAP scored all versions of the Ignis except the top-spec SZ5 a meagre three stars in 2016’s crash tests.
The new Ignis doesn’t move the game on in any demonstrable way, but its main advantage is its price. There aren’t too many cars around that offer this blend of low running costs, realistic space for four and a list price that’ll even keep Dacia honest.
Just don’t expect the thrills to match up with the fun styling.