As is the way with progression, new is synonymous with big as consumers subscribe to the mantra of “bigger is better” … Big Macs (whether from Mc D’s or Apple), big-screen TVs, big ‘n bad SUVs … our egos love it.
So, there’s something refreshing about something that is new, but not at all big. Suzuki’s new baby crossover, the Ignis (or, as it affectionally became known, the Iggy), measures just 3,7-m in length by 1,69-m in width – it’s physically compact, but it’s massively talented…
Ignis brings a new dimension to Suzuki’s range of compact city cars – the company dubs it an “ultra-compact crossover”, but I think that’s selling it short. The Ignis is charmingly different to anything Suzuki has offered locally before.
It looks confident and handsome from the front, but slightly awkward from the rear three-quarter view because of the thick C-pillar and hunched hatch. The black plastic fender overriders and rear bumper insert, and 180-mm ground clearance, that add that sense of “crossover” ruggedness. Contrastingly, the silver roof rails and chrome grille surround of the Uptown Red Pearl Metallic GLX-spec test unit accentuate the piano-black 15-inch wheels, mirrors, A-pillars and roof, to add the mix of modern and chic appeal. Overall, it combines to convey an outright youthful attitude.
The funkiness carries over to the relatively spacious interior, which will delight anyone who might expect one of Suzuki’s usually utilitarian interiors. The body colour carries over into the front-door pulls and lower centre console, which accentuates the two-tone black and white dash and door panels.
In the centre of the dash is a floating audio system (a touch-screen infotainment system is optional), below which is the “tubular” electronic climate-control module. It’s a pleasant, modern environment that feels bright, upmarket, unique and spacious.
It may be a “crossover”, but the Ignis is exceptionally light. Thanks to Suzuki’s latest-generation HEARTECT lightweight modular platform, the Ignis weighs a featherweight 850 kg! As such the heart of the best is a diminutive 1,2-litre, naturally aspirated engine that produces just 61 kW of power and 114 Nm torque.
Driving through the smooth-shifting five-speed manual, the Ignis gets on with a perky and enthusiastic verve. The ride is firm, though the sense is it feels that way due to the light weight and one is not left uncomfortable. However, it’s no bend-hugger and the electric power steering has all the feedback and accuracy of, let’s say, typing while wearing a pair of mittens.
Nonetheless, the light mass imparts even more positive spinoffs to the drive. The anti-lock brakes, incorporating electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and electronic braking assistance (EBA) provide strong stopping power, while combined fuel consumption is claimed at just 5,1 l/100 km. I achieved a still impressive 6,5.
In addition to the electronic braking aids, the Ignis GLX offers exceptionally powerful LED headlights with LED daytime running lights – ensuring you will always see and be seen. There’s also rear park-distance control, keyless entry and start, an onboard computer and full audio connectivity.
Priced at R189 900 (including a two-year/30 000 km service plan, three-year/100 000 km warranty), the Ignis offers a compelling alternative to the smaller Celerio and larger Swift 1,2 (both great products – look out for a review on the Celerio in the coming weeks). Outside of the Suzuki range, though, the only other vehicles packed with as much funkiness as the Ignis are a couple of entry-level Fiat 500s and smart forfours. You could also include the smaller VW up! on that list.
The Ignis, overall, is a youthful, energetic compact car that adds a load of refreshing attitude and individuality to both the Suzuki model line-up and the segment in which it competes. It’s a compact car that delivers big!
CyberStoep rating: 8/10