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CAPE TOWN – Suzuki is at it again with the next in a successful line-up of good-to-drive and fair-on-the-wallet offerings. The latest, the Ignis, is possibly one of the best, as we discovered on the Western Cape launch this week.

The looks are sporty and funky with a neat kick-up over the rear doors that includes a design element from way back in the form of faux-louvres. Two great, stand-out colour schemes are available on the range-topping GLX: metallic red with a black roof and side-mirror caps and a metallic blue with white roof and mirrors. Matching striping and headlamp surrounds are also available if you wish to customise your vehicle.

There are only two spec levels: GL and GLX. Only the GLX was available to drive and this is likely to be the most popular of the range. A robotised automatic is also offered on the GLX, but this costs a fair deal more and is not nearly as easy to drive as the manual gearbox mated to the lively 1,2-litre four cylinder engine. The power output may be only 61 kW with 113 N.m of torque (slightly less than as found in the Swift), but with a kerb mass of just 850 kg, the Ignis accelerates well with two heavy-ish adults and some luggage.

As there is no turbo, there is no turbo-lag, which means the car pulls from idle cleanly and keeps pulling right up to the 6 300 r/min soft limiter. The engine also emits a sporty growl, which combines with a super slick gearshift to result in plenty of fun. Steering is electrically assisted and very slightly vague at lower speeds, but this improves once on the move. It is well above average for this type of steering so we can’t complain too much.

The ride is also fine, absorbing bumps well while being able to tackle the corners of Du Toitskloof pass with relative ease. As this is a crossover style of vehicle, the ground clearance is generous at 180 mm. A set of 15-inch alloys is fitted to the GLX and aluminium roof-rails complete the semi-off road character. Tyres are fuel-saving Bridgestone Ecopias.

The cloth seats are well proportioned and there is sufficient space front and rear for adults. The only small criticism is that the compact width of the Ignis means that two large front seat occupants may bump elbows when the driver shifts gears. The back seat has two headrests and a lap belt for the middle occupant. One other small crit is that the sunvisors are a bit small for our harsh African sun. The boot size is claimed to be 260 litres and there is fortunately a full-size steel spare wheel. A touchscreen info system is optional although the standard fitment includes Bluetooth, USB and a CD player, plus steering wheel controls.

Fuel consumption is claimed at just 5,1 L/100 km for this manual model and no carbon tax is added. Acceleration to 100 km/h is quick enough at a claimed 11,6 seconds with a top speed of 165 km/h. Dual airbags, ABS and Isofix anchors are standard on all models. The warranty is three years or 100 000 km while a two-year or 30 000 km service plan is included, with intervals of 15 000 km.

To highlight the main differences between the GLX and the GL versions, for the extra R20 000 of the GLX you gain alloy wheels, LED projector headlamps and daytime running lights, front foglamps, rear park sensors, folding mirrors, steering wheel audio and phone controls, keyless start, auto air-conditioning, Bluetooth, six speakers instead of two, chrome trim interior elements, driver's seat height adjustment and, of course, the roof rails. We think it's worth it.

In short, another splendid little car from Suzuki.

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