WITH the hundreds of new car models for sale on our market, it's refreshing when we're offered something genuinely different.
Behold Suzuki's all-new micro SUV, the Ignis. The ultimate SUV-styled escape capsule; value-packed funkiness; an escape from the dreary, sameness, higher prices, uneconomical, inflexible and unfashionable. Suzuki's bigging this little baby up as your ticket to the Funk Factor.
And why not? Cars and their marketing can be a bit serious sometimes, and this ickle Ignis is certainly like nothing else out there today. Not least when you see the price. From $16,990 drive away it is among the cheapest ways to get mobile in a new car in Australia, and certainly the cheapest thing classified as an SUV.
The Sports Utility Vehicle term is a loose one at the best of times, and although the Ignis will be classified an SUV in Australia, Suzuki is keen to trumpet the car being SUV-styled rather than pretending it is in any way comparable to the brand's genuine off-roaders such as the much-loved and sadly departed Jimny. The Ignis is available in all-wheel-drive in other markets, but we're only to receive the front-wheel drive model at launch.
Which brings us to where the Ignis fits in Suzuki's current range. At under $17k drive away the Ignis is around 25% cheaper than its nearest Suzuki SUV stablemate, the S-Cross. See this micro SUV as another choice from Suzuki's compact passenger car range: the titchy Celerio, the ever-popular Swift hatch and the recently-arrived Baleno.
Those with $16,990 in their back pocket may have an interesting time at the Suzuki dealership. For that amount you can drive away the entry-level Swift, Baleno and now Ignis. Cheap and cheerful stuff indeed.
Size and style
Given its official reveal in Brisbane but sadly without a test drive (watch out for that next month), we were only able to evaluate the new Ignis on the style, specification and practicality fronts.
Funky? Without question, not least with a range of customisation options. We were shown two cars: the entry grade GL dressed in Flame Orange paint and a GLX version in white with a black roof. The latter had been given the custom treatment with red exterior and interior flashes for the likes of the door handles, centre console, fog light surrounds, side mirror casings and go-faster stripe decals.
There's a lot of personality on show here, and that is sure to appeal to some first time buyers and, Suzuki said, the blue-rinse set. "Why shouldn't our senior citizens also be able to have really funky colour stitching on their seats?" we were asked. Fair point. They make up a huge percentage of our car buying market.
So the Ignis looks small in the photos, and rest assured it is in the metal too. It's not too far removed from the discontinued Suzuki Jimny size-wise, being similar in length and width but a little shorter due to a lower ground clearance.
The Ignis will clear 180mm where the Jimny managed 190mm. Neither is much to brag about, but the front-wheel drive Ignis certainly has no designs on off-roading beyond the odd unsealed road. It will look most relevant as a fun city slicker one would imagine.
Look at the Ignis from the rear and it is a skinny wee thing riding on thin little tyres. A large rear window, attractive lights and bumper strip give it some style though, while from the side its wide wheel arches and slightly raised ride height shows its SUV designs. It does look a bit slab-sided at the rear c-pillar, but Suzuki's added some jazz with dummy vents in honour of Suzuki's early-1970s Fronte Coupe model. Nice touch.
Style-wise it works best from the front end with its large headlamps, round fog lights and clam-shell bonnet. It also certainly benefits with the dealer-fit add-on colourful decals and garnishes, and the 16-inch alloys found on the GLX model.
Despite being a mere 3.7-metres long (15cm shorter than a Suzuki Swift), the Ignis's height gives a reasonable feeling of space inside.
Headroom is excellent for front occupants while adults in the back will find air above their heads unless freakishly tall. Leg room for back seat passengers is also surprisingly good for a micro car, especially if you buy the GLX version.
Unlike the entry-level GL which has a bench rear seat, the GLX has a two person rear layout and the ability to slide this back for more leg space. It encroaches on your boot space, but the flexibility here is a real bonus.
Said cargo space is a rather paltry 264 litres with rear seats up, but they do split-fold (60:40 in the GL and 50:50 in the GLX) to provide up to 1104-litres. With a decent-sized hatchback opening, you could lug some reasonably sized equipment in the Ignis.
Seating is sink-in comfortable, but the abundance of plastic in the cabin highlights how Suzuki can price its Ignis so cheaply. It is hard-touch plastic fantastic inside (the rear door card is literally a big slab of black plastic), so the interior really benefits from the brighter colour flashes for the likes of the centre console and door handles.
What does suggest good value for money are the inclusions. Both the GL and GLX get a 7-inch touchscreen, satellite navigation, rear camera and smartphone-friendly Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. In a $17k drive away car? Great work Suzuki...rival brands could learn from this.
We can't report on how well the Ignis's 1.2-litre four-cylinder propels the car without a test drive, but with no turbo and just 66kW and 120Nm on offer we're not expecting fireworks. As the car weighs a mere 830kg (895kg in GLX trim) it should be ample to buzz around town though.
You get a five-speed manual gearbox with the Ignis GL and a CVT auto in the GLX. The auto upgrade is a mere $1000 if GL buyers so wish.
As we've become used to with Suzuki, fuel economy figures look superb. Both the manual and CVT cars have a quoted figure of under 5-litres per 100km.
The Ignis is built on a brand new platform for Suzuki too, its new chassis apparently 15% lighter and 10% stronger than its previous efforts. We look forward to the test drive to see how it all translates on the road.
Suzuki's own Swift has the same drive away price of $16,990, and your only real rivals on the money front are city cars such as the less practical Fiat 500 (from $18,000) or less fun Ford Fiesta ($15,825) or Holden Spark ($13,990) types. A pricier Kia Soul ($24,990) rivals the Ignis for quirkiness.
Ready to escape to the funk factor? That's what Suzuki is offering here, and on paper the Ignis's included equipment, in-vogue SUV styling and really sharp pricing are pretty compelling.
It's a real niche car though, but Suzuki is no stranger to this arena with some of its edgy offerings in the past including the memorable X90, Jimny, Cappuccino, Mighty Boy and Wagon R across the years. The Ignis could well join this much-loved collective.
You can question the Ignis's status as an SUV (it really isn't one) and perhaps grumble at its abundance of cabin hard plastics, but ignore all that and it simply looks a great fun and decent value city colour-filled runabout that's a real break from the beige.
What matters most
What we liked: Quirkiness, included equipment especially Apple CarPlay and navigation, cheap drive away price, decent interior space for its size, ability to customise.
What we'd like to see: Less plasticky cabin, a digital speedo, a turbo engine perhaps with three-cylinders, more active safety gear at least optional, there should be an all-wheel-drive version offered.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year 100,000km warranty with capped price servicing of $199 per service. Service intervals are every six months or 10,000km.
Model: 2017 Suzuki Ignis.
Details: Five-door, front-wheel-drive compact SUV/hatchback.
Engine: 1.2-litre four-cylinder Dualjet petrol generating maximum power of 66kW @ 6000rpm and 120Nm @ 4440rpm.
Transmissions: Five-speed manual (GL) or CVT automatic (GLX).
Consumption: 4.7-litres/100km (manual) or 4.9-litres/100km (CVT) combined average.
Bottom line: From $16,990 drive away (GL) and $19,990 drive away (GLX).
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