Road Test: Suzuki Ignis
Cute and clever, the Ignis plays perfectly to Suzuki’s strengths, says Alex Grant.
SECTOR City car PRICE £9,999-£13,999 FUEL 60.1-65.7mpg CO2 97-106g/km
With its strengths in city cars and compact SUVs, Suzuki seems well-placed to take a bigger slice of a market where downsizing and crossovers are popular. With its low cost, high practicality and cute-but-rugged styling, the Ignis should have the makings of a great urban company car.
Suzuki has realised it has potential. Record UK sales in 2016, helped by fleet and retail demand for the Vitara, has given it new impetus to chase a bigger slice of the corporate market. Ambitious for a 70-80% retail-weighted brand, but the plan is to play to its strengths. Doubling its B2B volumes, through incremental sales growth, will come from targeting end-users – customers who shop like the retail buyers it retains so well.
The Ignis won’t play as large a role in that as the S-Cross and Vitara, but it is a useful addition. It’s roughly the same size as a Fiat Panda Cross, a more fashionable replacement for the discontinued Splash MPV, and Suzuki is reckoning on around 6,000 UK sales in its first year. Boxy Japanese city cars haven’t traditionally found many fans in the UK – this has just enough crossover DNA to change that.
It’s very cute; tall, narrow and seemingly stretched over a chassis that’s pushed the wheels out to the extremities of the car, its stubby bonnet and stocky arches mean it looks more boxer dog than box-on-wheels. Crossovers tend to attract those wanting MPV flexibility without the frumpiness, and the Ignis delivers.
With most of the overall length taken up by the wheelbase, there’s also plenty of space inside. Head and leg room is enough to seat four adults, and the rear bench slides on all except the entry-level trim to extend the boot. It’s a little plasticky inside, though the aluminium-accented controls which look a bit like a Casio G-Shock watch help stop it feeling cheap, and the expected big-selling SZ-T gets all the essentials including navigation, a rear-view camera and smartphone connectivity. As that’s also the point where alloy wheels and the wheel arch extensions become standard equipment, it’s worth the upgrade.
There are two engine options; a 1.2-litre petrol with an optional automated manual gearbox, both returning 61.4mpg and emitting 104g/km CO2, or Suzuki’s mild hybrid system based on the same engine. The latter uses a small motor-generator to assist the engine; a low-cost, low-weight technology which brings CO2 down to 97g/km, or 106g/km with the top-spec SZ5’s part-time four-wheel drive system.
It’s assistance you barely notice, seamlessly capturing otherwise wasted energy and giving sparkier acceleration from a standstill than the rev-hungry petrol engine usually provides. For a small car, it’s very quiet, really smooth when the engine re-engages, and the combination of featherweight body, quick steering and short overhangs adds up to a keen – though don’t read that as sporty – driving experience.
For now, at least, that’s a combination of qualities that give the Ignis its own spot in the crossover market. Purposeful, practical and stylish, it’s another useful tool in Suzuki’s fleet armoury.What we think
Crossover styling and mini MPV practicality in a cute, fuel-efficient package – the Ignis is a characterful and appealing addition to the city car class.