The first generation of Suzuki Ignis did the half-supermini, half-sort-of-SUV thing before it was de-riguer. It wasn’t fooling anyone though.
You’d be hard pressed to confuse the mark I Ignis with a bona fide off-roader. Narrow, with little wheels and un-imposing styling, it was far more at home in the city than rough terrain.
Likewise, it was a bit of an ugly-duckling compared with its supermini contemporaries.
Suzuki Ignis SHVS SZ5 AWD
Engine: 1.2 DualJet 4-cylinder 16-valve with SHVS mild hybrid system
Transmission: Five-speed manual, all-wheel-drive
Top speed: 103mph
0-62: 11.2 seconds
Economy: 54.3 combined
CO2 emissions: 106g/km
This all-new car, however, is an altogether different – and more appealing – prospect. Suzuki are calling it a compact SUV. It’s still tiny, but the exterior styling looks rugged, and muscular.
It’s less than four inches longer than Suzuki’s city car the Celerio and it’s five and a half inches shorter than the Swift supermini, but the Ignis looks like it could eat both for breakfast and wash it down with a protein shake. Line it up next to the Vitara crossover and the the two smaller SUVs in the Suzuki line-up look like Babushka dolls.
The interior has come on leaps and bounds as well. In fact, I’d go so far to say that the Ignis has the nicest interior of the current Suzuki line-up. The emphasis on clean lines and simple layout will age well and helps create an airy feel to the cabin. An absence of flash, but well-chosen stock materials across the range means a premium feel that was missing from Suzukis of old – particularly in this segment.
Space for driver and passengers is surprisingly good, partly because of the minimal space taken up by the engine and partly because of the relatively small 260-litre boot. Middle seats on the back bench are usually pretty pointless in smaller cars and the Ignis forgoes one altogether in favour of a four-seat configuration akin to a city car.
Across the range, the Ignis is powered by a four-cylinder, 89bhp, 1.2-litre engine. Our top-spec SHVS SZ5 AWD model adds a four-wheel drive system and – interestingly – a mild hybrid set-up to the stock engine.
The hybrid set-up shaves 7g/km off the car’s emissions, meaning the AWD variant, paired with the hybrid battery as it is, stays in the same tax band as the standard car (VED band B).
Unlike some hybrid systems, the Ignis’ system doesn’t allow the car to run on battery only. It does, however, assist the car on start-up and acceleration, recharge via regenerative braking and allow the AWD Ignis to achieve a combined economy of 54.3mpg. Over the course of a one-week test, I wasn’t far shy of that – achieving 51.2 mpg in the real world.
At 1,330kg, the Ignis is relatively heavy given its small footprint and the engine – mated to a five-speed manual gearbox – has clearly been tuned with fuel efficiency and emissions in mind, rather than performance. This isn’t a fizzing, fun supermini around the town – nor is it particularly geared toward cruising either. Nought to 62 comes in 11.1 seconds and the car will accelerate to a 103mph maximum speed.
The Ignis is very well equipped. As standard the SZ5 model comes with safety equipment such as ABS with EBD and brake assist, hill hold control and hill descent control, six airbags, dual camera brake support and luxuries such as engine auto stop/start system, rear parking camera, cruise control with speed limiter, smartphone connectivity and DAB radio. There’s another page-worth of equipment, much of which is standard across the range, which starts just a smidge above £10k.
It won’t be the obvious choice as a main car for families due to its small size, and it’s not the last word in driving dynamism either, but with excellent equipment levels, reasonable price and funky design, the Ignis could well pick up fans as a second car or primary runaround for city dwellers searching for something a little more substantial-looking than an Up or an Aygo.
Including options, our hybrid, AWD test car came in at £14,899 – and the only option was a £650 paint job. Whether you view that as a bargain or not depends on how you look at it. Just under £15k is steep for a city car – but it’s cheap for a crossover, particularly one with all-wheel drive that’s as nicely turned out as the Ignis.
When you factor in the hybrid technology and levels of equipment, the Ignis, however small, could be viewed as a lot of car for your money indeed.