I’m starting to think Suzuki’s Ignis could just be the perfect city car. It’s fun, funky, not too expensive, small and manoeuvrable, a piece of cake to drive and importantly uses hardly any fuel.
Ignis has its origins in the Japanese K or Kei car culture, small cheap cars designed primarily to meet domestic tax and insurance requirements.
These cars don’t usually find their way overseas, with the exception of some grey, low volume imports — but someone somewhere obviously felt this one had potential.
It’s cheap and cheerful little car, with a bright spacious cabin that’s easy to get in and out off, and chunky easy to use controls.
Suzuki describes the car as an SUV, but we look upon it more as a high-riding hatch — whatever it is, it’s a car that’s more than the sum of its parts.
What’s it cost?
Prices start $16,990 driveway for the GL manual, $17,990 for one with an auto, or $19,990 for the GLX with the lot.
But everything does not include five seats because the GLX seats only four — mind you, three adults in the back would be a sight to see.
Both models are powered by the same 1.2-litre engine and come with cloth trim, but the GLX adds climate air, push-button start, LED automatic lights, daytime LEDs and a couple of extra speakers.
Our test vehicle the GL rides on 15 inch steel wheels with hubcaps while the more expensive GLX steps up to 16 inch alloys with lower profile tyres (not always a good thing in terms of ride comfort).
Standard kit includes a s large 7.0-inch touchscreen that offers satnav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus a rear view camera.
Ignis has been out for over a year now, but the car has still not been crash tested by ANCAP.
It does however come with six airbags and electronic stability control — just no safety rating as yet.
What’s it go like?
The level of performance manufacturers are able to extract from small engines these days is frankly amazing.
The 1.2-litre four cylinder petrol engine with multi-point injection produces 66kW of power and 120Nm of torque at 4400 revs, and is available with a five-speed manual or CVT style automatic transmission.
The figures don’t suggest much, but the car goes better than expected, thanks to its relatively light 865kg, which means the engine doesn’t have to work as hard.
In other markets, it’s available with a hybrid powertrain — now that would be something.
CVTs or continuously variable transmissions are an acquired taste, with some better than others, and some also smarter than others — with a torque converter to make them feel like a real auto.
The bit we don’t care for much is the zoomy feel as the car accelerates, and the way engine revs remain unnaturally constant as the drive ratio changes instead.
There’s no drop off between gears like a conventional car – that’s because there are no gears.
The feeling is even more pronounced under load and it’s something we recommend you try first hand before making any decisions – some people hate the feel.
A thumb operated button on the side of the gear selector switches the CVT to sport mode which works pretty well around town, keeping the engine in the 3500 to 4500 rev band and giving the car some zip.
The steering is light, and with short front and rear overhangs it’s easy to park, and for a car its size and weight the ride is surprisingly good, even on bumpy back roads.
But we wouldn’t be planning any long country drives, especially with a space saver spare in the boot.
The boot is small but deep and you can easily drop the rear seats if you really need some extra space.
With a tiny 32-litre tank, fuel consumption is rated at 4.7L/100km for the manual or 4.9 for the auto.