Suzuki Ignis: Scrappy-Doo takes on the city car
LIKE the product planners at the Hot Wheels factory, it seems that the good folk at Suzuki are determined to offer an ever-widening range of small cars, writes William Scholes.
This is not a bad thing, as Suzuki is quite the expert when it comes to the art of the small car. If all you want is a 'normal' supermini, then the salesman will nudge you in the direction of the Swift. A new Swift is heading this way very shortly, though there is not a lot wrong with the current car, which we here at Drive regard as a gem.
If you want something like the Swift, except with more space in the back seat and a bigger boot, then there is the Baleno.
Or if you feel that even the Swift is a little large for your purposes and you want something even more dinky, take a look at the Celerio.
Into this array of small car choice comes the car on this page, which is called the Ignis.
This is the car Suzuki wants you to buy if you want a small city car with SUV styling. It's a niche, sure, but they may be on to something.
The demand for crossovers - cars which mash-up SUV styling with more conventional hatchback usability and running costs - is, it seems, nigh on insatiable.
Crossovers are on course to account for around 30 per cent of all car sales in Europe this year, so why shouldn't a city car-sized crossover be part of the mix?
Other teeny-tiny crossovers are few and far between. The Fiat Panda is just about the only other one, and with it you only get the SUV/crossover look if you go for the 4x4 model; with the Suzuki, you get the SUV-lite styling regardless of whether your Ignis is front- or four-wheel-drive.
The aforementioned styling is key to whether you 'get' the Ignis. It's a stocky little thing that looks like it's up for a challenge, as if it were channelling Scooby-Doo's effervescent nephew Scrappy-Doo. You can almost hear it saying "Lemme at 'em" and "Puppy power"...
The Ignis looks like it's channelling Scooby-Doo's nephew Scrappy-Doo. You can almost hear it saying "Lemme at 'em" and "Puppy power"...
If the distinctive design isn't for you, then look elsewhere - Suzuki, as stated earlier, has as wide a range of small cars as anyone - but if you do like the Ignis's style, you will also find that its appeal is more than skin deep.
Inside, it is neatly designed and while none of the interior materials or fixtures are going to give the folk at Audi and Volvo sleepless nights, they are perfectly judged for the Suzuki's price-point.
It is also roomier than you might expect for a car with such a small footprint - it is just 3.7 metres long and 1.6m wide - thanks to it being relatively tall, at 1.6m.
Rear seats which slide, so allowing legroom and boot space to vary, come with some versions, giving extra versatility.
Trim levels follow Suzuki's usual structure of SZ3, SZ-T and SZ-5.
Even entry SZ3 models are decently equipped, with six airbags, air conditioning, DAB radio and Bluetooth among the standard equipment, though if you want the full SUV styling you will need an SZ-T, which gains the sliding rear seats, 16-inch alloy wheels, sat-nav and a rear-view camera as well as rugged wheel arch extensions, side mouldings and roof rails.
Range-topping SZ5 adds automatic air conditioning, LED headlamps, cruise control and a dual camera-based automatic braking system.
If you want four-wheel-drive, then SZ5 is your only choice. Similarly, you will need an SZ5 if you want to order Suzuki's 'mild hybrid' system, which uses a small battery - charged with energy harvested under braking - to help start the car in stop-start conditions.
The net effect of the system, which adds just 6.2kg to the car's weight, is to bring CO2 emissions down to 97g/km from 104g/km. Fuel economy, measured using the EU combined cycle, also improves from 61.4mpg to 65.7mpg.
If you like the Ignis's style, you will also find that its appeal is more than skin deep
A five-speed manual is the main gearbox choice, though an 'automated' five-speed manual can also be specified.
The only engine available with the Ignis is Suzuki's 1.2-litre four-cylinder 'dualjet' petrol unit. It makes 89bhp and 88lb.ft, which is ample for a car of the Ignis's diminutive size and meagre 810kg kerb weight.
Top speed, for what relevance it is to a city car like this, measures between 97mph and 106mph, depending on drivetrain. The quickest version - if that's not too generous a use of the term - gets from 0-62mph in 11.1 seconds, though in truth the Ignis feels zippier than that in its natural urban habitat.
Once out of the city and pointed beyond the Westlink and on to the M1, the Ignis actually cruises with more comfort and aplomb than you might expect.
The chassis set-up may not have quite the sparkle familiar from the Swift - perhaps the stilt-like suspension is to blame - but the Ignis is still good fun on a twisty road.
Taken together, it means the Ignis has plenty to recommend it.
Cheap to buy - prices start at £10,249 - and economical to run, it offers an intelligent approach to maximising space for passengers and luggage, with a healthy thread of SUV DNA running through its city car genes.
AT A GLANCE
Suzuki Ignis SZ5 4x4
Price: £13,999. As tested £14,464, with metallic paint £465
Engine and transmission: 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol, five-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel-drive; 89bhp, 88lb.ft
Performance: Top speed 106mph, 0-62mph in 11.4 seconds
Fuel consumption and CO2: 65.7mpg (EU combined), 54.4mpg (real world), 106g/km
Car tax: £140 in first year, then £140 annually
Benefit in kind: 20 per cent