Suzuki Ignis SHVS review

Suzuki is quite the specialist in doing things its own way. With a strength in producing compact, off-road-style cars, the Japanese brand tries to bring models into its field of expertise. Hence even crossovers are given the Suzuki treatment - creating the Suzuki Ignis. This micro-crossover is a tall-ish supermini that promises low running costs and surprising levels of interior space. NGC tests the mild hybrid version to see how it stacks up.

Review by Chris Lilly

PERFORMANCE

Suzuki doesn't really do quick cars, so it's no surprise that the Ignis tested completes the 0-62mph sprint in 11.5 seconds - and it's the fastest model in the range. Fitted with a 1.2 litre SHVS engine and manual five speed gearbox, the Ignis will head on to a top speed of 103mph if really pushed. It's not designed for outright pace though, and the Ignis feels far quicker around town than its statistics suggest. Pick up from the little engine is quick, with the unit revving freely and encouraging the powertrain to be worked. Suzuki's fitted the Ignis with a mild hybrid system in this model, which effectively beefs up the starter motor so that it can support the engine a little when under load. It works well and helps fill in the engine's lack of low down torque, which is normal for this size of petrol unit. In the Ignis's natural habitat of town and rural driving, the system works brilliantly. It's ideally suited for nipping about your local area, with more than enough performance for what you need. It's least comfortable on the motorway, but it still doesn't struggle. A cross-country trip was completed with no problems, and there was never a time I felt short changed in the power department. The only negative comment to make is that it's not a particularly refined powertrain, but it shouldn't be enough to put buyers off.

HANDLING

Suzuki might not make fast cars, but it often makes fun to drive ones. The Swift Sport has long been one of the best warm hatches around, and Suzuki's suspension engineers have had a successful time of setting up the Ignis too. It's never going to be a track-day star, but the Ignis can be a hoot when driven enthusiastically. Like an old-school supermini, the Ignis telegraphs when you're reaching the limits of its grip with plenty of time for you to back off a little. It all happens at speeds that aren't going to be impossible to catch the Suzuki should everything go wrong too, and the Ignis has a surprising amount of grip considering the narrow tyres fitted. That's helped no doubt by the all-wheel drive system fitted. Around the tight confines of town the Ignis works perfectly. A tight turning circle, and precise steering mean it will deal with car parks and tight junctions with ease. The suspension isn't as refined over rough surfaces as a VW up! for example, but the Ignis can prove as fun to drive - if not more so. There's a fair amount of body lean when cornering hard, but the Ignis is tall so that's not surprising. Sophisticated the Ignis ain't, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun to drive.

BODY STYLE

I've haven't met anyone who doesn't like Suzuki's styling of the Ignis. It strikes a good balance between slightly 'cute' and a bit off-roadish. The boxy looks and tall stance stop the Ignis from being too sweet, and there are elements such as the headlights and grille that are fine pieces of design full stop, not just on a value-for-money citycar. Thinking practically, the Ignis's height means there is a fair bit of space inside. Seating is best specified for four since there's not a lot of width to try and squeeze the bench seat in the rear. Resisting that temptation means that the Suzuki offers a good amount of head, leg, and shoulder room for all occupants. Boot space is good if not huge - though you wouldn't expect a load-lugger from the Ignis's dimensions. The rear seats fold and slide independently too, making for a flexible load space if carrying larger loads is required.

COMFORT & CONTROLS

Suzuki Ignis interior

The interior of the Ignis is nicely designed, with a fairly cleanly styled dashboard and stand out touchscreen infotainment system. Those buttons that are present are tucked away neatly under the main fascia, and there is one clear central dial for the driver, with a digital display to one side for other information. It's nothing particularly special, but Suzuki's designers have done a good job with the cabin and it's a nice enough place to sit. Plastics used are hard by rivals' standards, but the Ignis feels pretty well built. The seats are comfortable enough to cover 150 miles or so non-stop without complaint from me, and there is enough lateral support to keep you in one place should you try and make the most of the Ignis's chuck-able handling nature.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

The Ignis returns an official fuel economy figure of 60.1 MPG in the specification tested, though the mild hybrid SHVS car with two wheel drive rather than Suzuki's Allgrip set-up is quoted at 65.7 MPG. Over the course of more than 700 miles with the Ignis in my care, it returned 52 MPG which isn't bad at all. Considering a higher than average proportion of those miles were completed on the motorway, the Ignis should be able to better that in more usual conditions. VED rates for the model tested come in at £130 for the first year - included in the car's OTR price - because of an official CO2 figure of 106 g/km and then £130 standard rate since the mild hybrid system qualifies it for the £10 alternative fuel discount. The two-wheel drive model has CO2 emissions of 97 g/km, the best in the range.

GREEN CREDENTIALS

Suzuki's SHVS mild hybrid is the biggest piece of green technology available on the Ignis. With a more significant integrated starter generator, the Ignis will set off initially on the generator, and benefit from its support under acceleration or when climbing hills. It can provide 2.3 kW of power when needed, and adds only 6.2kg to the car's weight. There is a small battery that gets charged under braking or when off the throttle to power the motor when needed. The system also improves the Ignis engine's stop/start system which shuts the engine down when stationary or at speeds of less than 10mph. Suzuki has also kept weight down in the Ignis, with the lightest model coming in at just 855kg kerb weight. This is thanks in part to a new platform, launched on the Baleno, which provides a lighter but stiffer chassis on which to build the Ignis around. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 36.

OPTIONAL EXTRAS

The Ignis might not be the cheapest Suzuki in sale, but it is fairly well equipped. Entry level SZ3 spec gets features such as DAB radio with Bluetooth connectivity, and air conditioning. Move up to SZ-T and 16-inch alloy wheels are added, along with the split-folding rear seats, and rear parking camera, while SZ5 adds elements such as front fog lamps, keyless entry and start, automatic air conditioning, satellite navigation with smartphone connectivity, cruise control, and Dual Camera Brake Support.

MODEL SUMMARY

The Suzuki Ignis is a practical and sensible choice for those in the market for a small car. It's spacious inside, comes well equipped, and returns low running costs. Add in the fact that it's a characterful little machine that offers a fun driving experience and plenty of style and the Ignis is an unusual but great little car.

Suzuki Ignis rear

Model tested: Suzuki Ignis 1.2 SZ5 SHVS Allgrip
Body-style: Compact crossover
Engine / CO2: 1.2 litre mild hybrid petrol / 106 g/km
Trim grades: SZ3, SZ-T, SZ5

On-road price: From £10,499.
Warranty: Three years / 62,137 miles (100,000km)
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.0 Stars

Click here for more info about this model range

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:22nd Apr 2017

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