Long-term test (Introduction): Suzuki Ignis 1,2 GLX Manual

Upon its arrival, the Suzuki Ignis – sporting Blue Pearl metallic paintwork, a contrasting roof-mounted rear spoiler and gloss black alloys – instantly brought some fun to the CAR garage. The white-hued grille and foglamp surrounds, plus side decals, add to its distinct styling but I would, if given the choice, leave this trim option box unchecked. Divisive stickers aside, this Ignis in top-spec GLX trim certainly looks the part. 

It is not often a car with a sub-R200 000 sticker price is offered with so many extras. For example, the wheel caps, airvent louvres and centre console can be ordered in an array of colours. Even a stowage box mounted to the roof rails can be specified when more packing space is required (road trip, anyone?). Page through the brochure and you’ll see the list goes on. 

At R199 900, the city crossover in manual guise is a bit more expensive than before. The R3 000 premium is due to Suzuki’s newly added Smartphone Linkage Display Audio (SLDA) system. The seven- inch touchscreen infotainment unit is a cinch to use and includes features such as smartphone mirroring and a rear-view camera. I’m especially fond of the latter as the Ignis’ broad C-pillars can hinder outward visibility. 

The only gripe I have with the updated SLDA unit is that its touch-sensitive volume controls take a while to respond at times. Fortunately, the volume can be adjusted via the multifunction steering wheel, too. 

Thanks to its 180 mm of ground clearance and 15-inch wheels wrapped in 175/65 rubber, the city crossover handles road imperfections with aplomb. It was effortless to traverse a short bit of gravel leading to a scenic spot on its first excursion. I also realised the Ignis is quite composed in bends, exerting minimal body roll, even with its higher ride height and boxy design. 

The free-revving 1,2-litre three-cylinder mill is coupled with a slick five-speed manual ‘box and produces 61 kW and 113 N.m of torque, which is ample when you consider its 851 kg mass. 

So far, the Ignis has left a good first impression. But will this last over the remaining five months? I’ve no doubt. 

After 1 month
Current Mileage: 
901 km
Average fuel consumption: 
5,80 L/100 km
We like: 
vast spec list; upgarded infotainment system; peppy engine
We don’t like: 
those side decals

 

Long-term test (Update 1): Suzuki Ignis 1,2 GLX Manual

In light of recent fuel increases, the introduction of the Ignis into our fleet has been a welcome one. It’s proving notably more efficient than other vehicles, aside from that parsimonious Fiesta. At 120 km/h in top (fifth) gear, the engine spins at close to 3 000 r/min, which is comparatively low for a 1,2-litre engine. Still, at higher speed, the Suzuki does tend to empty its 32-litre fuel tank quicker than you’d expect.

For stop-and-go driving, however, the low mass and frugal engine should work well over the months to keep its consumption minimal.

After 2 months
Current Mileage: 
1 348 km
Average fuel consumption:
6,15 L/100 km

Long-term test (Update 2): Suzuki Ignis 1,2 GLX Manual

While driving home in traffic one afternoon, I had a unique occurrence that I’d never experienced in a test car before: a fellow Ignis driver in the oncoming lane smiled at me in a manner indicating camaraderie and approval. It shows the possibility of the Ignis developing a following that could morph into a close-knit community in the coming years. Of course, only time will tell. 

In the greater scheme of South African car sales, the Ignis is a solid but not spectacular performer, moving 120 to 160 units a month. However, it’s been on sale long enough to have become a commonly seen car, especially in Cape Town where CAR is based. The Ignis boasts impressive standard equipment at the sub-R200 000 price category – no surprise, then, that it sells decently – and those happen to be features I use daily. 

Keyless entry is difficult to live without once you’ve gotten used to it, which is why it’s my standard means of entry with the Ignis. What’s annoying, however, is you can’t configure whether
you want all of the doors to lock upon pressing the button on the handle, which means you have to remember to press twice when travelling with passengers. For those confused about keyless access for the boot, you’ll find the button positioned to the right of the handle. I mention this because it’s easy to miss. 

Android Auto is a feature I’ve been using frequently, mainly to access Google Maps. It works flawlessly and the only issue with plugging in my smartphone is there’s nowhere to safely store it; it simply dislodges itself from the lower compartment in the centre con- sole. Often the solution is popping it into the glovebox and trailing the cable through the shut-line. 

 After 3 months
Current Mileage: 
2 045 km
Average fuel consumption: 
6,61 L/100 km
We like: 
great standard features
We don’t like: 
nowhere to safely store big smartphones



 Long-term test (Update 3): Suzuki Ignis 1,2 GLX Manual

One of the biggest challenges for designers of boutique city cars like the Ignis (and the Volkswagen Up! and Smart ForTwo/-Four) is to engineer in a feeling of solid perceived quality, plus an interesting design, within the constraints of a tight budget. The cabin is an area of a city car where manufacturers can quite easily save money by limiting features and dulling down materials. 

Despite the Ignis still being a budget car, it blends fairly basic plastic finishes with interesting coloured highlights and grained textures to impressively lift the ambience (the materials do become somewhat simpler towards the back of the cabin).

The 2 500 km I’ve spent in the Ignis has not shown in any obvious wear and tear, and the cockpit has remained impressively rattle-free (although budget cars do tend to stay quite solidly constructed because there are very few panels that could work themselves loose). 

There are some areas that could be improved, however. The electric window switches feel a tad flimsy, especially in comparison to those controlling the climate control system. The latter click with a satisfying robustness. 

Another worthwhile tweak would be the addition of a leather-trimmed steering wheel. While the controls on the Ignis’ tiller are easy to use, the Volkswagen Up! has shown what a difference a hide-covered item could make to your perception of quality in a vehicle, especially considering it’s the main touchpoint.

That could be extended to the gearshifter, too, to accompany the satisfyingly mechanical feel the box has as your slide from ratio to ratio. 

After 4 months
Current Mileage: 
2 505 km
Average fuel consumption: 
6,57 L/100 km
We like: 
unique cabin design
We don’t like: 
plastic steering wheel

 Long-term test (Update 4): Suzuki Ignis 1,2 GLX Manual

The Ignis’s 1,2-litre engine isn’t all that powerful, of course, but thanks to the vehicle’s low mass, it doesn’t need to work very hard to keep things moving.

The little four-pot provides a bit of a challenge on the open road, where inclines means often changing down to third to maintain mo- mentum. That’s true of all city cars, certainly, but an undulating road does affect the overall fuel consumption. A recent trip from Cape Town to Greyton and back has seen the average figure deteriorate slightly, from 6,57 to 6,66 L/100 km. 

After 5 months
Current Mileage:
3 258 km
Average fuel consumption: 
6,66 L/100 km

Long-term test (wrap-up): Suzuki Ignis 1,2 GLX Manual

 

The Suzuki Ignis first grabbed my attention when it was revealed at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show as the iM-4 Concept. The design cues, largely present in the production model, were inspired by the 1977 Suzuki Cervo designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. Nick- named the Whizz-kid, the Cervo embodied the same principles we see in the Ignis today: quirkiness, practicality and affordability. 

This model takes full advantage of the crossover craze thanks to its increased ride height, tall body design and raised seating. In GLX trim, the benefit of functional roof racks adds to its crossover appeal. For a hatch under R200 000, the Ignis boasts a long standard features list: keyless entry, a rear parking camera, HID headlamps with DRLs, climate control and a comprehensive seven-inch TFT infotainment display with phone linkage. 

The Ignis appeals to the more expressive consumer with its detailed accessories catalogue. Our Tinsel Blue test unit was fitted with white side body decals, front grille and foglamp surrounds and a hatch-mounted spoiler. This Ignis was also fitted with rain and wind deflectors, which suit those who drive with the window open, and the tinted finish alleviates blinding sunlight. 

The interior’s console and front door grips are finished in the same Tinsel hue while stainless steel door-sill guards add a sense of occasion. Accessories I would consider are a centre armrest and boot organiser. Because of its raised seating position, an armrest would add to the overall level of comfort when cruising and it acts as an extra storage compartment. The boot organiser would fill the gap created by no bag hooks or net anchorages. As the Ignis has a moderate amount of body roll through corners, valuables can slide about if they’re not secured. 

There are two challenges a car in this segment has to overcome with its interior: perceived quality and packaging. On the former, the Ignis has more expressive plastics than is the norm in this sector of the market but right up until the end of the test, the interior held together well and was impressively free of rattles and squeaks. 

Unfortunately, the manufacturer omitted reach adjustment for the steering column. What’s more, it’s a pity Suzuki hasn’t trimmed the steering wheel and gearshifter in leather on this flagship model, which would give the cabin a major boost. You can opt for a faux-leather sports gear shifter from the accessories list, which I would recommend. 

The Ignis provides sufficient headroom and rear legroom but the boot space may be an issue if you have a lot of luggage. You can mount a roof box but consider this only if you intend to use the Ignis for long distances. 

The overall design of the cabin made a difference to my daily commute. Despite being classified as a budget car, the quirky design adds a sense of excitement. A particular favourite upfront is the climate control cluster which resembles canisters used to contain top-secret government chemicals in sci-fi movies. The rear parts of the interior adopt a more monotonous colour scheme and it’s worth noting the squeeze to fit three passengers on the rear bench (although, again, this is inherent to all city cars). 

The Ignis is an engaging drive despite its modest outputs. The naturally aspirated 1,2-litre four-cylinder engine delivers 61 kW to the front wheels via
a five-speed manual gearbox. The Ignis makes this work because it weighs just 851 kg. In low-speed extra-urban driving environments (where this Ignis spent most of its time), it’s quite invigorating to pilot. The small engine proved decently frugal at an average 6,58 L/100 km which is close to its claimed combined fuel consumption of 6,10 L/100 km. 

The first few ratios in the gearbox are short (which would make that more comfortable- feeling aftermarket shifter a welcome addition) for strong urge at low speeds. Up the pace, however, and the Ignis starts struggling; steep hills often require a shift down to third.
As a result, it requires precision overtaking. The absence of cruise control is surprising as this is the flagship model. Regardless, the Ignis proved to be capable on a flat open road thanks especially to its cossetting ride quality. 

Having to constantly toggle the gearbox isn’t too much of a problem because the controls are light. The shifter and pedals are slick but the electronically assisted power steering could do with a touch more feel and the Bridgestone Ecopia tyres’ hard compound does limit grip levels. I enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the Ignis so these two slight irks weren’t deal-breakers. However, it is worth noting the Renault Sandero Stepway comes standard with cruise control, while the Volkswagen Cross Up! offers a more rounded, mature driving experience. 

Although there’s a R23 000 price difference between this and the base GL spec, the GLX provides better value for money considering the wealth of spec added. Another R15 000 will get you the automatic. Just remember, it uses the same five-speed AMT we criticised in our August 2016 test of the Celerio. 

TEST SUMMARY 

Over the past six months, I’ve come to respect the Ignis. It ticks a lot of boxes for demanding South African consumers increasingly buying into this segment. It has also developed a sense of community on our roads and garners respect from fellow owners, which is a rarity for mass-produced cars. 

 

The Ignis operates in a challenging segment with compel- ling rivals and puts its best foot forward. It may not be the most premium offering but there is real pleasure in driving one every day, a characteristic reminding me of my 1974 Austin Mini. Thanks to a comprehensive list of standard features, quirky design and the fact that it costs less than R200 000, the Ignis makes a compelling case. 

 

 After 6 months
Current Mileage: 
 7 378 km
Average fuel consumption: 
6,58 L/100 km
We like: 
funky design; great daily usability
We don’t like: 
engine lacks low-down torque