Suzuki’s quirky new Ignis will light your fire

“Interesting,” my doctor said, when I drove up to his surgery in Suzuki’s Ignis. Well, the new Ignis is a lot more than that and is far removed from the somewhat bland designs we’ve come to expect from the Japanese car maker.

Brian Joss – The Ignis is a striking looking vehicle that Suzuki calls a an ultra- compact crossover.  The hashtag #Ignis like no other probably says it all.

In the looks department it is off-beat, to say the least. Unconventional is another way to describe it.

The Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX: In the running for the Car of the Year award. Picture: Motorpress

Since Suzuki re-entered the South African market  nine  years ago it has grown by leaps and bounds. In August,  the company recorded total sales of 744 units, a record, which represented a jump of 27% over its sales in June and an equally impressive jump of 68 units over its previous record. Before breaking through the 700-unit barrier, Suzuki had achieved its best sales in September 2014, when 676 new Suzuki vehicles were sold.

And I’m convinced the Ignis is going to help Suzuki set more records.

The Ignis is just  3.7 metres long and 1.69 metres wide. But that doesn’t translate into small. Up front it’s spacious, however, bigger sized adult passengers sitting at the back may find it a bit cramped. It also has a ground clearance of 180 mm so if you do encounter a bit of rough it won’t scrape its bum on the terrain. The test car was the Ignis GLX 1.2 with five speed gearbox, although there’s the option of an automatic: basically a five-speed automated manual (ATM) transmission, which means you can change gears without using a conventional clutch. That said the clutch in the manual edition is a bit sharp and takes some getting used to.

Inside, the Ignis is also quirky but functional. The cabin’s uncluttered look makes it much more spacious than the outside dimensions suggest.  The top half of the dashboard is black, while the lower sections are white. The same finish is on the door panels. Equipment is a CD receiver with FM/Am tuner in the centre of the dashboard with aircon controls sited below the infotainment, an optional extra, available for R7 000, so you will be able to use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, if it’s what you want. The instrument cluster is housed in a compact binnacle in front of the driver.

There is a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, fitted with multifunction controls and Bluetooth for the GLX. Information includes  instant and average fuel consumption, driving range and average speed. It also incorporates a digital clock and a gear shift indicator which came in useful when I got caught up in the “Black Monday” protest. But more about that later.

Although adult passengers at the back may not have a great deal of elbow room, the bench seat can be split 60:40 to increase boot space. With the seat upright it can take up to 260 litres of luggage (or picture 260 one litre bottles of Coke), increasing to 469 litres when it is flat. More than enough room for your monthly shop or holiday luggage. There is a storage box in the centre console. And where would we be without the ubiquitous cup holders?  Two in front and one at the back, as well as bottle holders on the front and back doors. The GLX also has roof rails; keyless starting, rear parking sensors and electric mirrors.

The Ignis is powered by the familiar fuel injected 1.2-litre engine which features in current Suzuki models. The normally aspirated motor puts out 61Kw and 113N.m. at 4 200rpm. 

What’s it like to drive?  In two words: brilliant and fun. It’s funky look also attracted a lot of “kykdaars” including at a shopping mall where a few people asked me about it.  The Ignis is peppy and gear shifting is smooth, although a bit sharp for my liking. It takes off quickly and seems much faster than Suzuki’s figures of 0 to 100km/h in 11.6 sec, seem to suggest, but that’s mainly because of its low weight, just 850kg. It also has a top speed of 165 km/h.

The ride is comfortable and Hoovers up the road imperfections with ease, while the corners and curves on one of the more twisty mountain passes on my test route proved to be no obstacle for the funky crossover. It behaved well on the open road, in town (it’s easy to park) and on the highways. I got caught up in the “Black Monday” demonstrations against farm killings near Klapmuts, Stellenbosch, where the protest started, and on the N1 towards Cape Town. The Ignis moved without a stutter and often the speedometer needle was hovering just above the zero mark. And that’s where the gear shift indicator proved its worth. The engine also has a nice throaty rumble to it.  The Ignis sips fuel, while I didn’t get the consumption figure of 5.1 litres/100 km that Suzuki claims: it wasn’t too far out with 5.5 litres/100km in a combined cycle. 

Some of the safety features are Total Effective Control Technology (TECT), which includes crumple zones;  dual SRS airbags in front; door-mounted side impact protection beams; ABS anti-lock brakes,with electronic brake distribution (EBD) and electronic braking assistance (EBA).  A security alarm and immobiliser is another standard feature across all models.

Latest news is that the Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX  is a finalist in the 2018 WesBank / SA Guild of Motoring Journalists Car of the Year competition. It will now compete for the crown as Car of the Year 2018 at the national test days, which are scheduled for the end of January next year. My bet is on the Ignis.

The question is: would I buy one? The answer is an emphatic yes. The Ignis is practical, it’s fun to drive, it’s miserly with fuel and you get a lot of bang for your bucks. However, I would like to try the “automatic” version to see how it compares.

Incidentally, ignis is Latin and means fiery.

The Ignis 1.2 GLX has a price tag of R189 900 (check with your dealer) .There is a standard three-year/100 000 km warranty, as well as a two-year/30 000 km service plan. Services are at 15 000 km/12 month intervals. 

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