The small SUV proves that experience counts
The small SUV market and the city car market are both burgeoning hugely. Which makes this a potentially very clever vehicle indeed. Because it’s visibly an SUV, from a manufacturer famed for such things, yet it is only about the size of a city car.
The Ignis is only 3.7m long and 1.7m wide, yet it has the high stance, flared wheelarches, and all the other cues that symbolise an SUV. You can choose it with four-wheel drive for that pukka 4×4 ability, but you can’t choose what engine you want.
What you’ll have is a 1.2-litre Dualjet four-cylinder. That only makes 89bhp which doesn’t sound a lot, but then it doesn’t have a lot of vehicle to haul around either. There’s actually ample performance on offer, and the 88lb ft of torque means you’re not having to work the slick five-speed manual transmission all the time to make decent progress.
There is a very mild hybrid version, but that may not be worth the extra expense, something which also goes for the option of an auto transmission.
Handling isn’t bad so long as you’re trying to treat it like a hot hatch. The short wheelbase and low weight combine to offer decent agility and grip levels, something which is enhanced by the Allgrip all-wheel drive system if chosen. It’s great to have the ability to cross rutted fields, and it doesn’t do any disservice on the road either. Add in hill descent control and you do indeed have a lot of control for such a small vehicle.
Steering is a big vague and you can get some kicks both from the suspension and steering if driving down rough roads, so this is one area where the best city cars, like VW’s Up, do score more points. Generally though the ride is on the comfy side so long as you don’t hit too many big potholes – always a risk.
Those thumps will come into a cabin which is not as high grade as those top city cars either. Materials feel fairly low rent, even if the styling is quite attractive, particularly that two-tone dashboard. The driver’s seat isn’t that adjustable, nor is it that supportive, so you’ll be clinging on to the wheel for sharper corners.
The ho-hum continues with the infotainment, with the SZ-T and SZ5 versions gaining a Pioneer system that looks like it was fitted as an aftermarket accessory. However, the seven-inch touchscreen comes with lots of useful stuff, including smartphone connectivity, even if it isn’t that smooth to use.
The really clever thing about the cabin is the fact that it’s relatively so large. You really can sit four adults in there in reasonable comfort. This is a trick many larger SUVs and lots of city cars can’t replicate. With the entry SZ3 trim there are actually three seats in the rear but that’s pushing it. Higher trims only have two seats in the rear and those really are quite spacious and comfy, and it seems the way to go.
Not only that, but they can slide and tilt, again something more expensive vehicles don’t offer. That gives a flexible boot space which again puts most city cars to shame. Bear in mind though that if you go for the Allgrip all-wheel drive you’ll lose about 20 per cent of that space.
Speaking of numbers, they stack up well for the Ignis. It’s about the same price, spec for spec, with the city cars you might want, like a VW Up or Hyundai i10. It’s definitely cheaper as a 4×4 than the equivalent Fiat Panda 4×4, and we managed a real 50.2mpg, which is just hugely impressive. If you went for the hybrid version this could jump to very nearly 60mpg so that’s a thought.
Emissions are also very sensible, and PCP deals are good value, in part because these little things hold their value quite well. A final figure is equally impressive. In a recent reliability survey Suzuki came fourth out of 32 manufacturers, beating an awful lot of far more premium brands. This little battler is worth a look.