Consistent, cheerful and value for money are just some of the adjectives that one can level at the Suzuki brand and its automotive products.
Since the firms’s re-introduction to SA in 2008, it has consistently brought to the market an array of compact, entry-level cars that on face value seem to have been well thought out and, more importantly, kind to one’s purse when it comes to purchasing and running costs.
In fact, save for the Swift Dezire sedan (mostly due to its odd proportions) I am yet to drive a model from the stable that has not at best exceeded my expectations or, at worst, met them. So it was not surprising that when the firm’s latest model visited our offices for a week-long assessment, I jumped at the opportunity to see what the Japanese marque had mustered this time around.
The Ignis is the company’s latest contender in the A-segment of the market and with its petite proportions and pricing point (from R169 900) it takes the fight directly to the likes of the Toyota Aygo, Hyundai i10 and my firm favourite in the segment, the Volkswagen Up.
However, there’s now a new advocate in the form of the Ignis, which takes all the hallmarks that have made a success of many a product in its stable and packaged them in a more appealing proposition. With its slightly raised ride height of 180mm, roof rails and exterior design elements such as the contrasting roof and side mirrors, the model manages to meld entry-level hatch elements with the popular crossover look quite admirably.
The front end of the vehicle is cheery, thanks to the large headlamps replete with U-shaped LED daytime running lights. Then there are flared wheel arches and a C-pillar with three shark-gill like lines and, when viewed from the three-quarter rear perspective, is slightly reminiscent of the Lancia Delta — without the performance, of course.
Cabin appointments continue the cool theme, thanks to the body colour plastic inserts on the transmission tunnel and door handles that will appease the young set. In addition, there is a floating audio system that can be controlled via remote buttons on the multifunction steering wheel.
Both leg and headroom are good and belie the compact exterior proportions (only 3.7m long) while boot space is a relatively good 260-litres.
Out on the road, the model felt sprightly despite the 61kW and 131Nm maximum outputs, which one can attribute to the paltry 850kg weight of the model. The engine itself is fairly quiet. Even at the national speed limit it did not suffer from the buzzing, whizzing noise that afflicts many small capacity engines. On-road stability was also surprisingly good with only more severe road ruts making the ride choppy at times.
The relatively thin 175/65/R15 tyres, wrapped in gloss black alloy wheels, offer a surprisingly stable disposition to the vehicle out on the road.
Build quality is rather good, while steering adjustment could have a slightly wider scope as I found the steering wheel angle a little too high relative to my seating position and the lack of a conventional seat belt in the rear middle seat (only a lap belt) were the biggest oversights.
That aside, though, the model vindicated itself in most areas and, what sweetens the deal further, is that the manufacturer did not skimp on safety items with ABS, EBD, dual airbags and Isofix child seat anchorage points in the rear seats all being standard equipment across the range. In fact, the model even scored a credible three stars in the EuroNcap safety test, which should get the thumbs-up from first-time buyers.
As a package, the Suzuki Ignis seems to edge out the Volkswagen slightly on packaging and in the performance stakes, while the LED headlights are a welcome addition. Subsequent to this test, the Ignis moves to the top of my favourite budget car list. –Lerato Matebese
Fast Facts: Suzuki Ignis GLX
Engine: 1 197cc four-cylinder petrol
Power: 61kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 113kW at 4200rpm
Transmission: five-speed manual
0-100km/h: 11.6-seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 165km/h (claimed)
Fuel: 5.1l/100km (achieved combined)
Price: From R189 900