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2017 Suzuki Ignis – Car Review – New Zealand’s Smallest SUV?

2017 Suzuki Ignis – Car Review – New Zealand’s Smallest SUV?

Suzuki’s new small hatchback is being marketed as a super-compact SUV. Well it’s small, and it’s quite tall, but is it an SUV? We tested one to find out.

The Range

There are four variants of the Ignis starting with the GLX manual at $18,990. This gets you five seats, cruise control, electric windows, electric mirrors, Bluetooth, 4 speakers, aircon, 60/40 split rear seats, ESP, EBD, Brake Assist and six airbags. The GLX auto adds hill hold control but is otherwise the same spec, costing $20,500. Step up to the LTD Auto at $22,500 and you only get four seats, but add keyless entry and start, satnav, six speaker touch screen media system with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, climate control, LED headlamps, LED DRLs, reverse camera and 16” (rather than 15”) wheels. The final variant is the LTD Two Tone Auto with visual changes for an extra $490 over the LTD.

Being a small car, the Ignis is available in some nice bright colours including the Neon Blue you see here, Flame Orange, Fervent Red, and of course silver and white. Lots of little customisations are available for the inside and outside to make the Ignis your own.

First Impressions

At first glance I liked the Ignis. It has a bold, chunky look to it and is quite different from most other small cars. The side view is also pleasing, with three slashes moulded into the rear panel, bringing back memories for me of hatchbacks from long ago when I was at school. From the rear I think it looks a little awkward and over-tall.

The Inside

Inside the Ignis it’s a similar story with a chunky and slightly retro look. The dash and door panels are two-tone black and cream. The large touch-screen has a bit of a tacked-on look, sitting in the centre of the dash. The heater controls are similar, almost looking like a separate module rather than an integrated part of the dash. The sides of the centre section have three slashes matching the ones on the rear panel which is a nicle little touch. There are cup holders in the centre and bottle holders in the doors. One thing I did wonder about was, if this is the top spec, how come there are lots of blank buttons on the dash?

The instrument console is dominated by a large speedo, with a rev counter on one side and a chunky digital display on the other, which shows odometer, fuel consumption, gear selection or trip computer. The leather-trimmed wheel has a nice shape to it, and has thumb controls for audio, phone and cruise control. The wheel adjusts up and down but not telescopically.

The seats are fairly basic but have decent-sized side bolsters. When you sit in them you realise that there’s not a lot of reinforcement in the foam, they bend quite a lot when pushed. This means they’re comfortable but I wonder about how well they’ll stand up to extended use. They are pretty high off the floor, and easy to get in and out of. Maybe this is where Suzuki feel it can be compared to an SUV.

The rear seats are similarly comfortable and there’s a surprising amount of leg and headroom. This car is more spacious inside than you expect! The rear seats will slide backwards and forwards too so that you can expand either legroom or boot space. The model we tested being a four-seater, you get plenty of elbow room too. The seats split 50/50 and fold down to extend boot space, but don’t fold flat. It expands the boot space from 264 to 516 litres so you do get a decent load space. There are built-in child seat tethers on the backs.

The screen and its piano black surround are a bit of a dust magnet, which you can see in the photos even though I dusted the car immediately before. When dusting, I noticed that every piece of interior plastic flexes and bends when touched. Dash, glove box, door panels, none of it feels very convincing.

The Drive

The first test of a car, as always, is pairing my phone with the media system. This went well with the Ignis until I tried to play music. The system was happy to make calls, but insisted that my phone wasn’t connected I selected the media function. The same happened when I tried a USB drive. Suzuki told me that this would normally work so it may have been a quirk of my phone. The radio worked fine, and the sound was pretty decent, with good bass. The satnav also worked well, with clear maps and directions. There was one other issue I had with the system – it took a minute or two to boot up when the car was started, meaning that unless I waited for it before engaging reverse, I couldn’t use the camera to get out of my drive. All I got was a pink screen with reversing lines overlaid.

When I collected the Ignis it was raining hard, and once I set off, the overriding sound in the cabin was of water, sounding like it was sloshing around in the footwells. It doesn’t seem like this car has a lot of sound deadening. This was evident on the motorway too, where there’s a lot of road and wind noise around 100kph.

Around the city and on residential streets, the Ignis comes into its own. It has a kerb weight of only 895kg, so its 66kW 1.2l four cylinder moves it well. It’s easy to park, with great visibility and its size lets you nip through small gaps with ease. The 4.7m turning circle is great for tight U-turns. The ignis is very manoeuvrable, even though the steering is a little slower than a lot of modern cars. It’s pretty good fun to drive too, with that nippy city-car feel and great brakes. The suspension is quite hard, meaning body roll is minimal despite its high profile, and you can chuck the Ignis around tight bends. But the trade-off is that you feel every pothole. And you really do feel them. At one point one wheel went into a small dip in the road at about 40kph and it felt like it hit the bump-stop with quite a jarring bounce. Speed bumps are a similar story.

The other issue I have when pressing on a bit is that CVT transmission. It has that old-school CVT sound where it sits at constant RPM making an aaaaaaa sound. Put your foot down more and it goes to a louder constant RPM. The car goes, but that noise!

So back to the initial question, is it an SUV? No, it’s not. It’s a small hatchback which happens to have 18cm of ground clearance. It seems like it’s just a marketing ploy to cater to the current trend.

The Competition

Brand / ModelEnginePowerFuel L/100kmPrice Highest to Lowest
Suzuki Jimny1.3l 4 cylinder62.5kW/110Nm7.4$24,500
Holden Barina LS1.6l 4 cylinder85kW/155Nm5.9$23,990
Suzuki Swift1.4l 4 cylinder70kW/130Nm6.2$23,990
Mazda2 GLX1.5l 4 cylinder81kW/141Nm4.9$23,495
Toyota Yaris1.3l 4 cylinder63kW/121Nm6.3$23,190
Suzuki Ignis LTD Auto1.2l 4 cylinder66kW/120Nm4.9$22,500
Fiat 500 Pop1.2l 4 cylinder51kW/102Nm5.1$21,990
Kia Picanto EX1.25l 4 cylinder64kW/123Nm5.6$20,990
Skoda Fabia TSI Ambition1.2l 4 cylinder turbo66kW/160Nm4.7$20,990
Holden Spark LT1.4l 4 cylinder73kW/124Nm5.5$19,990
Mitsubishi Mirage XLS1.2l 3 cylinder58kW/102Nm5.0$19,990
Nissan Micra1.2l 3 cylinder56kW/100Nm6.5$19,750
Suzuki Celerio1.0l 3 cylinder50kW/90Nm4.8$17,500

The pros and cons

ProsCons
  • Quite fun to drive
  • Handles well
  • Lots of features for the money
  • Hard suspension
  • CVT
  • Interior quality
  • Can be noisy
  • Quirky media system

What we think

If the Ignis had come out five years ago with the same level of technology it might have impressed, but it feels like a last-generation car. This is a hotly contested price bracket with some really good competition. The Ignis has some redeeming qualities but doesn’t meet the current standard.

Rating – Chevron rating 2.5 out of 5

Vehicle TypeSmall hatchback/city car
Starting Price$18,990 + on-road costs (GLX Manual)
Tested Price$22,500 + on-road costs (LTD Auto)
Engine4 cylinder 16 valve 1.2l with multipoint fuel injection
TransmissionCVT
0 – 100 kphN/A
Kerb Weight895kg
Length x Width x Height3700 x 1660 x 1595 mm
Cargo Capacity264 Litres seats up

516 litres seats down

Fuel Tank32 litres
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined –  4.9L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined –  6.4L / 100km

ANCAP Safety RatingsNot yet tested
Warranty3 year/100,000km warranty

2 year powertrain warranty extension

5 year roadside assistance

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