A little bit of this and a little bit of that in Suzuki’s little bit of SUV
Somewhere between the Kia Soul and the Fiat 500 is a vacant patch of market that Suzuki expects to fill with its new Ignis, essentially reviving in parallel styling cues from the 1970s and a nameplate retired in 2005.
The new Ignis is a lightweight hatch that shares mechanicals and architecture with the Baleno, but fancies itself as a diminutive SUV. More important to prospective buyers than its packaging, however, will be its cool factor.
Stepping out of a Porsche Cayman S into an SUV-like hatch powered by a 1.2-litre engine should be the ultimate setup for a bout of intense disappointment.
Yet the brief drive programme for the new Suzuki Ignis leaves a generally favourable impression, despite having swapped the Zuffenhausen wunderwagen for this tiny little hatchback that’s aimed at young buyers.
Fuel consumption posted by the trip computer was 11.1km/L on a route that mixed an 80km/h-limited freeway section with 60km/h-restricted built-up area. That converts to about 9L/100km, which is a far cry from the official figure of 4.7L/100km, but a week-long road test could be a fairer assessment of the Ignis’ fuel economy.
The steering is direct and while I found it was acceptably light for target buyers, there was also enough weight as the speed rose. It was easy enough to hold the Ignis on-centre, but at speeds above 60km/h the steering proved harder to judge, with the Ignis turning in faster than expected. At lower speeds, on the other hand, the car was prone to scrub its front tyres and applying power widened the radius of the turn.
Inside, the Ignis offers a dash layout that’s very easy to read, and the instruments just don’t get any simpler to use. Everything is where it should be, and inexperienced drivers will take to the Ignis like the proverbial duck to water. I found the driving position to be right for me, although some drivers might miss reach adjustment in the steering column.
The comfortable seats could do with more side bolstering, although most buyers probably won’t care or even notice. There’s a lever by the side of the seat base to recline the backrest. A rotary knob would be easier to use for older drivers.
Given the price of the Ignis, the functional but broadly pleasant packaging was quite convincing. It’s a roomy little car for adults in the front and the rear.
Indeed, the sliding rear seats of the Ignis GLX do liberate plenty of room in the boot, if required, although at 271 litres the boot is fairly generous anyway, in a car that’s just 3.7m long.
The rear seat, slid all the way back (it’s a fixed base in the cheaper Ignis GL), provides uncompromised headroom and easy access. I found rear-seat knee room was ideal for me, with the front seat adjusted to suit my driving position, and adults can stretch out a bit by placing their feet under the high-mounted front seat base.
The air conditioning system in the Ignis deserves an honourable mention, easily keeping occupants cool on a 32-degree day in Melbourne. There were no vents in the back, but it’s rare for cars priced below $20,000 to offer that sort of facility.
It’s the packaging that will endear the Ignis to young people (and perhaps the bowls set too, in view of the car’s high hip point and light-but-solid door closure). A car that’s easy to park and yet accommodates four adults in reasonable comfort, the Ignis is well priced and well equipped to suit buyers who want something that little bit different from the run-of-the-mill family hatches.