Cape Town - Suzuki’s strength has always been its ability to produce compact and efficient cars with its Swift its best-selling model in SA for many years.
The Japanese automaker has been steadily expanding its range including with addition of its Celerio and Baleno.
Its latest model, the runner-up in the 2017 World Urban Car, has arrived in SA - the new Ignis.
Built on a shortened version of Suzuki’s lightweight platform used in the Baleno, the Ignis’ first weapon in its budget arsenal is its excellent power to weight ratio giving you 72kW/ ton. This platform also provides surprisingly good road-holding and handling prowess.
Past and present
From a design perspective, the Ignis borrows styling cues from Suzuki models, both past and present.
Head-on, I can see a shrunken version of the current Vitara. The clam-shell bonnet is a cue from the first Vitara and the three 'fake' gills on the C-pillar hark back to the real cooling gills on the Fronte Coupe from the early 1970s.
The Ignis has been launched with three derivatives all powered by a 1.2-litre 4-cylinder engine that performs duty in the Swift. With 61kW/113Nm powering only 850kg, good performance plus excellent economy are easy to achieve. Your choices are an entry spec GL in 5-speed manual guise only or GLX in either 5-speed manual or Suzuki’s own 5-speed AMT (automated manual transmission).
All versions sport similar safety levels offering two airbags together with ABS braking. The GLX tops the GL with items such as projection headlights with Daytime Running Lights (DRL), mag wheels, roof-racks and rear park distance control on the outside.
There are also some interesting colour options that include contrasting roof colours and maybe your own choice of some trim details to really make your new crossover your own.
Stepping inside to an interior that I can only describe as “funky” there are many stand-out features. Starting with colour-coded interior door panels and different bars instead of door handles (these can even be colour-coded to the exterior colour).
Then you look at a very different facia with a large radio unit in the centre and a barrel styled air-con system which changes to full climate control in the GLX spec. GLX also gives you keyless-go and a start button plus electric windows all round. An upgrade available on all models is the touch-screen similar to the Baleno GLX and you can add this for R6500 plus VAT.
An aspect that stands out is the space inside, from the added interior height created by the crossover design to the excellent rear seat space as well, even with the driver’s seat set well back.
The steering column also offers height adjustment to help you achieve a perfect driving position. Another inspired “trick” is the extra wide opening of the rear doors. This may sound simple, but creates exceptional ease of entry and egress that amazes both young and old.
For a small, A-segment crossover, boot space at 260 litres is another surprise. This can be easily expanded by dropping the rear seats in a 60:40 split as well, and there's also a full-sized spare wheel.
On the launch, we drove GLX manuals and within the first few minutes I was impressed by the smoothness of the drivetrain and the ride. Small cars have a tendency to be 'bouncy' and choppy but not this latest Suzuki. It handles well along Du Toits Kloof pass, taking on hills and corners in its stride.
The extra ground clearance of 180mm proved itself on dirt-roads. Freeways are handled with ease and stability at the national speed limit on the chase back to the airport to catch our flight home.
The Ignis is launched into a fairly crowded segment although there is a lack of automatic transmission options among the competitors. A 3-year or 100 000km warranty and 2-year or 30 000km service plan are included with all models.
Ignis 1.2 GL Manual - R169 900
Ignis 1.2 GLX Manual - R189 900
Ignis 1.2 GLX AMT - R204 900