Suzuki has revived the Ignis name and applied it to what it calls a “light SUV” and unlike the previous Ignis which filled in for the Swift between 2000 and 2005, the new Ignis will sell alongside the Swift in a two-pronged light car approach for the brand.
Officially light SUV doesn’t yet exist under Australia’s new car sales reporting, so the Ignis gets lumped in the same category as larger small SUVs like the Suzuki Vitara, Honda HRV and Mazda CX-3.
But rather than swaying buyers from small cars, the Ignis exists to lure light hatch buyers that might have considered a Toyota Yaris or Holden Barina, and with pricing that’s just as sharp, and a distinctive style unlike any other hatchback in its segment the Ignis is sure to grab plenty of attention.
Vehicle Style: Small SUV
Price: $15,990-$18,900 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 66kW/120Nm 1.2 litre 4cyl petrol | 5sp manual, CVT automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 4.7-4.9 l/100km | Tested: 6.8 l/100km
Suzuki has kept the Ignis range simple. There are just two models, the entry level GL with a choice of five-speed manual or CVT automatic, or the upscale GLX which is only available with a CVT automatic. Both are powered by a 66kW 1.2-litre petrol four-cylinder.
Along with chunky styling including throwbacks to the Suzuki’s first ever sporty microcar, the Cervo of the 1970s, in the glasshouse and C-Pillar, the Ignis also stands out thanks to its personalisation options.
Following in the footsteps of the larger Vitara, the Ignis offers a range of dress-up trims for the grille, fog light bezels, and alloy wheels in white, orange, or blue plus mirror caps in white, orange, blue, red or black to allow customers to design an Ignis that is uniquely theirs.
The same goes inside there the Ignis wears bold white dash and door trim highlights over black trim, plus highlights in titanium or orange depending on the exterior colour - and further blue or red dress up accessory parts for the door pulls, centre console and air vents surrounds.
The effect is mix-and-match style like you’d find in a Mini at a fraction of the price, and with all parts dealer-fitted rather than built on the production line a customised Ignis can be yours in a matter of weeks, rather than waiting months for a car to be shipped from the factory.
Not bad for a light hatch that starts from $15,990 plus on-roads for the GL manual, adding just $1000 for the GL automatic and topping out at $18,990 for the GLX automatic.
- GL: Fabric seat trim, manual air conditioning, power windows, remote central locking, cruise control with speed limiter, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio buttons, three person 60:40 folding rear seat, halogen headlights, front fog lights, tilt adjustable steering, 15-inch steel wheels
- GLX: (in addition to GL) single-zone climate control, push-button start, two person 50:50 folding rear seat with slide and angle adjust, dusk-sensing LED headlights, LED daytime running lamps, height adjustable driver’s seat, 16-inch black painted alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 8.0 touchscreen, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth phone and audio, four speaker audio (GL), six-speaker audio (GLX), USB and 3.5mm audio input
- Cargo Volume: 271l GL, 264l GLX with rear seats up, 505l GL, 516l GLX with rear seat folded to cargo cover, 1101l GL, 1104l GLX maximum
Inside the Ignis looks fresh and funky thanks to its bold white dash and door panels and shiny plastic highlights in either stand-out orange or more sophisticated titanium.
Of course the ability to dress the Ignis up even further with additional colour trims is something few cars at this price point offer.
Being relatively affordable the plastics on the Ignis' dash and door trims aren’t high-end soft touch surfaces. But they are finished with a quality look and robust feel - certainly not out of place for the light hatch.
Interior space is quite generous. The tall roof makes for plenty of available headroom, though taller passengers do need to duck on their way in. The Ignis isn’t wide though, putting front seat passengers within intimate proximity of each other.
In the rear the Ignis GL can seat three, though how that would be possible in any kind of comfort is a mystery, the Ignis GLX more wisely seats only two in the back, plus the GLX gets a rear seat that can be slid via its 50:50 split to free up more boot space if required.
Space in the boot is also rather compact, varying slightly between the two variants. Behind the rear seats is an upright space that’s fine for a few backpacks or soft bags, but with folding seatbacks the Ignis scores highly for versatility - even more so in the GLX.
Infotainment is via an 8.0-inch touchscreen and comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with navigation in all models.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol four-cylinder (66kW @6000rpm, 120Nm @4400rpm)
- Transmission: Five speed manual (GL only), or CVT automatic, front wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
- Brakes: Ventilated disc front, drum rear
- Steering: Electrically assisted power steering, 9.4m turning circle
All up the Ignis weighs in at a rather miniscule 820 kilograms, which is a genuine selling point compared to light hatches that usually tip the scales closer to one tonne.
That’s also why the Ignis is powered by a rather moderate 66kW engine, backed up with 120 Nm of torque from a 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine. Not exactly a powerhouse - but when you look at power to weight the Ignis out guns the Swift.
On the road that translates to a light hatch that can keep up with cut-and-thrust city traffic. At launch only the CVT automatic was available, and from a standing start it will happily fizz to 60km/h without feeling tardy.
From that point on the Ignis doesn’t feel as athletic, and despite a transmission that’s supposed to emulate a traditional automatic, at full throttle the Ignis holds a point in the rev range and sounds droney as CVTs often do.
Driving less aggressively suits the Ignis down to the ground, with the gearbox better able to sort itself out, and quite low levels of engine and road noise all the way to freeway speeds, where tyre noise starts to reveal itself.
Suzuki’s reputation for building fine handling chassis’ hasn’t missed the Ignis either, and despite its somewhat tall and narrow stance, the Ignis holds the road well, blotting out all but the biggest imperfections in the road surface while cornering eagerly.
Out of town mid corner bumps resulted in rack rattle and steering wheel kickback - but given that the Ignis is more likely to spend its time in urban settings it’s handling compromise that’s easy to forgive.
ANCAP Rating: The Suzuki Ignis has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety Features: Six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain) Electronic stability and traction control, ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, front seatbelt pretensioners, three-point seatbelts in all seating positions, 2x ISOFIX child seat mounting points
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Servicing: Service intervals are set at six months or 10,000km (whichever occurs first) with capped price servicing offered up to 36 months - each service is priced at $175 expect the 24 month service at $359.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
With sleek style and a quality interior the Mazda CX-3 just dips into the pricing territory of the Ignis at the entry-level end of the range - but it soon ramps up pricewise. Compact dimensions make it a great city SUV.
Nothing like an SUV at all, but roomy inside, well specced, and easy to operate - the Toyota Yaris might fall on your radar, but without any of the customisation options of funky style of the distinctive Yaris.
The cheap and cheerful Ford EcoSport is a little bigger than the Ignis, but lacks an exciting design to help it stand out from the pack. Like the CX-3 it is just cheap enough to be considered, bit still more expensive overall.
Suzuki faces a little competition from its own compact Jimny, but unlike the city-friendly Ignis the Jimny is a proper 4x4 meaning it can go further off road, but doesn’t quite deliver the same on road charm.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Suzuki is to be given credit for creating the Ignis - its light car range is already quite full with Swift and Baleno in Australia, to say nothing of its small SUV range which includes Vitara, S-Cross, and Jimny, but light SUVs are a fairly unusual concept to the point where the Ignis has no direct competitor.
There’s a very real chance that as buyers turn away from traditional hatchbacks, Suzuki will have a future hit on its hands - but more than just its SUV looks, the Ignis will delight with cool styling, a range of personalisation options, and a comfy and well built interior.
Match that with decent handling, and Suzuki’s reputation for hard-wearing quality and the the sensibly priced and well featured Ignis should lure plenty of value-focussed buyers looking for an added dose of style and practicality compared to your average light hatchback.
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