Suzuki Ignis – could this be the perfect runabout? We reckon so

Suzuki is well known for treading its own path with the kind of cars it sells, and the Ignis is no exception. Essentially what the Japanese firm has done is to shrink an SUV to the size of a city car, offering many of the virtues of the former, such as a raised driving position, sliding rear seats and optional four-wheel drive, in a significantly smaller package than you’d usually expect to find them.

The engine range is limited to just one, a 1.2-litre petrol unit, and buyers can choose either a manual or automatic gearbox. There’s even the option of a ‘mild hybrid’ system that recuperates energy from the brakes and uses it to start the engine and help with low-speed acceleration.

It’s hard not to be impressed with the amount of space Suzuki has managed to find in what is still a very small car. The boot is big enough for a large case or a couple of softer bags, and while opting for a four-wheel-drive Ignis means sacrificing some of the luggage capacity it’s still perfectly adequate.

The rear seats can be configured with either two or three seats, with the former giving you the option of sliding fore and aft to trade legroom for most boot space. Whichever version you choose you’ll find it’s possible to sit one tall adult behind another in relative comfort, with access helped by doors that open 90 degrees. The rear seats can also be folded down, although this does leave a large step in the floor.

In the front storage is hampered by the small glovebox, and larger drivers might find their right elbow brushing the door panel, but headroom is good.

The Suzuki Ignis doesn’t soak up bumps in the road as well as the Volkswagen Up or Hyundai i10, but is in line with other city cars, and while the engine is quite vocal it only ever becomes strained when revved all the way to its red line. At a motorway cruise there’s a lot lot of wind noise, but tyre roar isn’t too intrusive.

The steering wheel only adjusts for height but not reach, but it’s still possible to find a comfortable driving position thanks to the slightly raised seating. A footrest next to the clutch pedal also helps with comfort.

While the dash in the Ignis is constructed from hard plastics, a selection of contrasting panels helps to liven things up, and it all feels well screwed together. The dials are clear to read, and the heater controls logical to operate.

The aftermarket touchscreen system on all but the base level SZ model feels old fashioned and is confusing to use, with too many tiny buttons. Fortunately, it includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, meaning it is possible to access your smartphone’s media and mapping on the move via a much simpler interface than the in-built system’s.

Aside from the usual over-the-shoulder blind spots, visibility is good, and all but the SZ3 model come with a rear-facing camera to help you slot the Ignis into the smallest of parking spaces. The car’s tiny dimensions also make it easy to drive in built-up areas, but do mean it can get blown around a bit by strong winds when you're on the motorway.

We haven’t yet tried the automatic (although experience of this “automated manual” gearbox in the Suzuki Celerio suggests it isn’t very good), but the standard five-speed manual is easy to use, even if the pedals could do with a bit more weight to their operation to assist with pulling away smoothly. Once on the move the 1.2-litre engine is fine for keeping up with traffic, but we couldn’t really notice the extra power of the mild hybrid system.

 

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