I recently had the chance to review the Suzuki Ignis GLX SUV. This isn’t Suzuki’s first day at the races. They’ve been making SUVs for years. The original Vitara was a revelation for the industry.
This, the second generation Ignis, follows the ethos of the first model, which was also called the Holden Cruze. Not to be confused with the 2WD sedan Cruze.
It is inexpensive, funky, and more importantly, connected to the world. Millennials demand connection to the machine 24/7.
Our GXL came with a puny 1.2L, heart pumping, petrol engine. It ‘pumped’ out a monumental 66kw of power, and an impressive 120Nm of torque. Just joking about monumental, but not about the figures.
Imagine, if you will, a narrow, cobbled, inner city, lane with a roller door baked in tens of decades of Aussie summers. It’s too narrow for most cars. An Ignis comes bumping down the cobbles as the ancient door slides up and in to its cavity. In a single turn, the tiny Suzuki disappears out of sight. The only sound is the rumble of the door moving gently downwards.
That is where an Ignis is most at home. It is not a highway-loving barn-stormer, it is not a sports car. But then, it is not meant to be. Most of the time, you won’t take it by the scruff of the neck and throw in to corners at warp 9.99. No, you’ll be shopping, brunching, or going to your local bonsai class.
It is a city car for short trips in traffic with occasional fun drives out of town. It’s meant to slip into parking sports fit only for old prams and broken brollies, and it does.
The K-car exterior has a touch of cool about it. The GXL has sexy looking dark graphite alloys, and copper coloured accents in the wheels and vents. There are LED Projector headlights with LED DTRLs.
There is no hint of humble-price-tag outside, beyond the diminutive dimensions.
The cool but chunky exterior has an equally cool cabin.
There is no nasty pleather, no awful simulated wood, and no tacky metalised trim. It is plastic on plastic affair, with just a touch of plastic, that looks like plastic. There isn’t slightest hint of apology, and rather surprisingly, it works. I love it.
The copper coloured highlights continue inside. The vent bezels, dash, and centre console get the fun, up-market makeover.
All windows have powered operation, and the floating LCD screen displays CarPlay apps. Yes ladies and gents, the car will mirror your phone, as if you could ever spend more than 3 seconds out of range.
Smart entry/start, reversing camera, digital Air Cond, and auto headlights, are a pleasant and welcome surprise.
I like the fancy two-tone effect on the dash and doors. It makes an otherwise plain-Jane interior look just a bit snazzy. Likewise, the quality LCD screen and retro buttons on the centre stack. They were hard to see at night, but I may have missed the dimmer control. I can be like that. There is plenty of stuff to keep most buyers happy, even though we have entry level motoring at its finest.
My only real complaint is the vent to the right of the display screen pointing directly at the steering wheel. It froze fingers and was difficult to adjust.
This car is great for short trips.
Like most tall drivers, steering wheels without reach adjustment can present a problem. No amount of fiddling will get the driving position right. Even height adjustment for the driver’s seat didn’t help. Had the wheel had reach adjustment, I’d have thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Shorter drivers would have no trouble, and will have tons of head height to boot.
The ride was geared towards comfort, as much as is possible. There is a floaty feel as you buzz happily along the tarmac, but this car isn’t about the handling, not that the handling is bad.
The light steering could use just a little less assistance. Turning in to tight spots feels super easy with a 9.4m turning circle.
There are Macpherson Struts at the front, and a torsion beam rear setup.
A 1.2L engine is no rocket, but it makes up for it with eagerness.
The 0-100 time would probably require a calendar, at around 13 seconds. It was never an issue, but you’d need to plan overtaking well in advance. The CVT means the engine revs climb quickly while the car slowly catches up to the sound level. You feel like you should be going faster than you actually are.
Its 32L tank will go about 650k, with a claimed economy of 4.9L/100k. Best of all, you’ll fill your tank for under 40 bucks.
We tested the Suzuki around town, with brief stints at freeway speeds. It was fun, and just a little bit silly. The freeway was rowdy in places, with differing road surfaces inducing more rumble than I’d have liked. Around town, Ignis was fairly quiet unless pushed hard.
The rear wheels have drum brakes which feel a bit 19th century. It doesn’t seem to affect the braking capacity during normal use, but I didn’t want to push too hard.
You can fit shopping in the boot, and two friends in the back seat, but most of the time it will be just a single person and a dog. For that, Ignis is perfect.
The small SUV segment is crammed full, but is down 6.2% on this time last year
There is competition, like Holden’s overpriced Trax. Ignis looks like a bargain, even at almost 20 grand for the GLX. Ignis outsells Skoda’s wonderful, but unloved Yeti, and Nissan’s google-eyed Juke. Even ford’s laudable Ecosport, Fiat’s bold 500X, and Kia’s fun Soul, are in Ignis’s rear vision mirror.
This is not the car for taller drivers. You simply will not be able to get a comfortable driving position. Everyone else should feel right at home.
There will be times when you’ll catch yourself smiling.
You didn’t pay a lot of money to buy it, and you hardly ever visit a bowser. Clever you.
You can take your phone and connect it by cable, and have your apps appear on the screen. Even though you have Satnav, you can say “Hey Siri” to perform tasks without having to lift a finger. It will handle calls and texts, and search for addresses just by using your voice.
Your eyes will never leave the road. That is surely m favourite safety feature.
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto will appeal to younger buyers, and those who like gadgets that actually work. Annoyingly, there were occasions where CarPlay wouldn’t reconnect after short periods switched off. We didn’t try Android Auto because would couldn’t find anyone who owned one.
Emitting a mere 114gm of CO2 per kilometre, you’ll feel pretty smug about the environment too.
On balance, Suzuki Ignis looked good, was fun to drive, and did what it said on the box. It had a few drawbacks, but didn’t make promises it could keep.
For just over $4,000, you can upgrade to a Vitara. The Ignis is priced from $16,990 (GL Manual) to $19,990 (GXL CVT)