Suzuki Ignis

Suzuki Ignis: fugly or friggin’ inspired?

2006
6.8

Score

It’s hard to miss so what’s the Suzuki Ignis really like?

What is it?

Pssst.

Keep it under your hat but Suzuki might have its mojo back.

Cars like the Vitara, more recently Baleno and now the new Ignis are beginning to find their mark.

So it comes as no surprise the company has just claimed top spot this month for the most private sales in the light/micro-sized segment.

The distinctive Ignis is Suzuki’s most radical design in many years, a cross between a hatch and tiny SUV, with roots in Japan’s quirky K-car culture.

K or Kei cars are designed primarily to meet domestic tax and insurance requirements and usually don’t find their way overseas, except someone forgot to mark this one’s card not for export.

It’s a  good thing too because the little Ignis is car that’s greater than the sum of its parts, a breath of fresh air in a sea of lookalikes.

What’s it cost?

You can get your bum into one of these chunky monkeys from $16,990 driveway, $17,990 with an auto or $19,990 for the more expensive GLX model with a couple of extras (not that much extra though).

Both models come with cloth trim, but the GLX which incidentally only seats four adds single climate air, LED headlights and a couple of extra speakers.

The cheapie rides on 15 inch steel wheels with hubcaps while the more expensive model gains 16 inch alloys with lower profile tyres.

They’re not the worst looking hubcaps we’ve seen however and do nothing to detract from the overall effect.

A rear view camera and satellite navigation are standard.

It’s roomy inside with seating for four or five depending on model and there’s heaps of options available to personalise the car.

No crash rating from ANCAP yet.

What’s it go like?

We thought it was a three, but it’s actually a four cylinder 1.2-litre petrol engine.

Belying it size it goes surprisingly well although the CVT transmission remains an acquired taste.

If you haven’t driven a car with a CVT or continuously variable transmission before they don’t feel like a normal automatic.

The biggest difference is the zoomy feel as the car accelerates and the engine revs continue their long climb, instead of dropping off between gear changes – because there are no gear changes.

The feeling is even more pronounced under heavy load and it’s something you really need to experience for yourself before making a decision – some people hate it.

At the same time we have to admit it’s the CVT that transforms this car, delivering a level of performance from the tiny 1.2-litre, (cough), non turbo engine that is frankly amazing.

It really is incredible what car makers are achieving with small engines these days and the Ignis is a perfect example, with lively performance that is at odds with its output of 66kW and 120Nm of torque.

To put this in some sort of context, it is about a third of the power of a Holden Commodore – but of course the Suzuki weighs much less.

A thumb operated button on the side of the gear selector switches the CVT to sport mode which works rather well around town, keeping engine revs in the 3500 to 4500 zone.

But remember to turn it off once you hit the motorway or the engine will not settle and the effect will become wearing after a while, not to mention driving up your fuel consumption.

The steering is light, with short front and rear overhangs it’s easy to park and it rides reasonably well for a car that has had no tuning for local roads.

With a tiny 32-litre tank, fuel consumption is rated at 4.7L/100km for the manual or 4.9 for the auto.

We clocked up almost 1200km between the GL and GLX over two weeks, both of them with the CVT.

We were getting 6.1 from the GL after 365km and 5.6L/100km from the GLX after 830km.

What we like

  • Cheeky styling
  • Ease of entry and exit
  • Small with short overhang make it easy to park
  • Cruise control standard
  • Satellite navigation standard
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard

What we don’t

  • No reach adjust for the wheel
  • No digital speedo (seriously?)
  • Speed camera warning would be nice
  • No parking sensors, front or back
  • Rear drum brakes
  • Horrible bloody CVT
  • Easy to accidentally engage sport mode

What are the alternatives?

  • Holden Spark, priced from $13,990

Goes pretty well but doesn’t have the looks or interior space of the Ignis.

  • Mitsubishi Mirage, priced from $12,250

With a three cylinder engine Mitsubishi’s bottom feeder gets you from A to B okay but there are better ways of getting there for a bit more.

  • Kia Picanto, priced from $14,990

Not sold on the design. Looks cool from some angles, but awful from others.

Deal or no deal?

Ideal city car. It’s as fun as it is functional and uses hardly any gas. This is a car designed for short hops around town and is going to be cheap to run and own. The real challenge will be whether to cough up the extra dough for the more expensive GLX?


JUST THE SPECS:


Price: $16,900

Warranty: 3 years/100,000km

Capped priced servicing: $1234 for 3 years/60,000km

Service interval: 6 months/10,000km

Safety: Not rated yet

Engine: 1.2-litre three cylinder petrol, 66kW/120Nm

Transmission: CVT auto

Fuel consumption: 4.9L/100km

Dimensions: 3700mm (L), 1660mm (W), 1595mm (H), 2435mm (WB)

Weight: 820kg

Spare: Space saver

Country of origin: Japan

Ratings

  • Wow factor8
  • Performance7
  • Handling6
  • Comfort6
  • Value7
  • 6.8

    Score

    Is Suzuki's Ignis genius?
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