Review: 2017 Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX

Review: 2017 Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX

It’s fugly. It’s Japanese. Let me guess, Falkiner, you like it, don’t you?

I do indeed. Although its rear end might be something of a hit-or-miss affair, especially when viewed from some angles, I do think the new Suzuki Ignis is quite a cool set of wheels — simply because it looks like nothing else in the segment right now.

Those boxy MPV-mated-with-an-SUV dimensions also make it extremely functional. The Ignis feels spacious on the inside with what appears to be considerably more rear legroom than what you’d get in, say, a Volkswagen Up or Kia Picanto.

Clever interior packaging also means that the boot is bigger — 260-litres is not to be sneezed at in such a small car. Flip down the seats and you get even more space to stash things like shopping and furniture and dogs and mountain bikes.

Weird. Although beauty is in the eye of beholder, I guess. How’s it drive?

For what it is and how much it costs, the Ignis drives damn well. I’ve never really piloted a Suzuki that’s been devoid of sparkle, so this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. While the steering is direct and endowed with a fair amount of feel, the chassis is taut and more than game for a little back-road hooliganry.

Indeed, for a tall car riding on a higher-than-average suspension, I was amazed at how enthusiastically you could throw the Ignis about.

Ride quality was equally on point; the Ignis shrugged off the worst that Joburg’s scabby bitumen could throw its way.

I see the engine lacks a turbo. Must be dog slow, right?

Most cars operating up at the reef are going to struggle without a turbocharger, yes. However, the Ignis isn’t as sluggish as you might think thanks to its feathery kerb weight — a mere 850kg, which is kind of unheard of in this age of auto obesity.

So the 1.2-litre engine doesn’t have to work all that hard when you squash the accelerator to the floor.

It’s a gem of a unit too, eager to rev and smooth right up to its soft-limiter around about the 6 200rpm mark. Inner-city acceleration is brisk and highway cruising perfectly adequate — you can hold 140km/h at a steady 3 800rpm.

Fuel economy? It’s decent. I averaged 6.3l/100km but you could easily get that figure into the fives if you were willing to exercise a little restraint.

How’s life lived on the inside — cheap and cheerful?

Yep, like many of its competitors there isn’t a soft-touch insert to be seen. Instead you’re surrounded by a sea of hard, scratchy plastics that constantly remind you that the Ignis is playing on the bottom rungs of the automotive ladder.

Be this as it may, everything seems well screwed together and fairly resilient to everyday wear and tear. Ergonomics are good and all the main switchgear is logically placed, intuitive and easy to use.

Standard equipment is generous: automatic airconditioning, onboard computer, USB port and electric windows all ship standard. In GLX trim you even get fancy LED projector headlamps that provide excellent night-time visibility.

The third-party Pioneer audio unit was a bit disappointing though: its low-res screen and clunky menu interface nowhere near as good as the infotainment system that Kia sticks in its range-topping Picanto. Still, it offers Bluetooth streaming and adequate sound.

You sound enamoured. Is Suzuki paying you or do you genuinely like it?

No, I really do like the Ignis. It’s a rare breed of small car that marries idiosyncratic styling with a genuine feel-good driving experience.

In fact it kind of reminded me of the old Fiat Panda 100HP of the late noughties — quite a compliment I’ll have you know.

Consequently, if I were in the market for a new small car, I’d have a really tough time deciding between it and the Volkswagen Up.

Fast Facts: Suzuki Ignis 1.2 GLX

Engine capacity: 1197cc

No. of cylinders: 4

Power: 61 kW

0-100km/h: 11.6-seconds

Max speed: 165km/h

Price: R189 900

Litres/100km: 6.3