TESTED: Suzuki Ignis is still funky, and surprisingly rational
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JOHANNESBURG - It didn’t take us long to warm to Suzuki’s little Ignis when it first hit the scene back in 2017. Not only did it impress us with its cheeky and distinctive styling, but we also came to admire its clever interior packaging, decent performance by entry level standards and its frugality.
It offered a really desirable package at a surprisingly low price, we concluded.
But three years down the line a lot has changed in the compact hatchback game - there’s a new Swift and the S-Presso recently joined the range as SA’s cheapest car, and that’s not to mention other new rivals like the Toyota Agya and Hyundai Grand i10. And so when Suzuki recently launched a facelifted version of the Ignis in South Africa, we were curious to see if it could still hold its own among today’s batch of affordable hatchbacks and crossovers.
The revised-for-2020 Ingis doesn’t look radically different on the outside, but it does now bear a stronger resemblance to its Suzuki SUV cousins thanks to its new grille with square slots and redesigned bumpers. Inside, the cabin has been spiced up with new hues and colour combinations, which in certain instances also match the exterior, and new two-tone colour combinations have been added to the mix.
In short, the Ignis didn’t really need a facelift all that badly, but it got one anyway and it is all the better for it. That said, some of the novelty of its funky design has worn off, but that’s the danger with ‘fashionable’ designs.
The mechanical bits, of course, carry over from the previous model and there’s really no need to change anything here.
In fact, as far as we’re concerned, the Ignis is the best all-rounder in Suzuki’s compact car range. It has a more solid and substantial feel to it than the Swift and S-Presso (and also the best Global NCAP safety rating of three stars) and yet it’s still light enough allow the normally aspirated 1.2-litre engine to provide very decent performance as well as impressive economy.
With 61kW and 113kW on tap, it certainly doesn’t sound like a firecracker on paper, but we really love its free-revving nature. It makes the driving experience very pleasant and enjoyable, while the performance it delivers is respectable by entry level standards. It’s a very easy car to drive, but if I had to nitpick I’d say the clutch and gearbox do perhaps feel a bit spongy for my liking, but it’s really not a dealbreaker.
The ride quality is also very comfortable on practically all surfaces and overall refinement is impressive - this car is very happy to cruise at highway speeds, although you will have to gear down for hills and when performing overtaking manoeuvres.
As with the oily bits, the basic shape and packaging of the Ignis remains unaltered, and while we are hugely impressed with the level of cabin space on offer - there’s tons of leg-stretching space in the back - keep in mind that it is a relatively narrow car so three up in the back might be a bit of a squeeze. As for luggage-swallowing ability, the 260 litre boot volume is perhaps a little limited compared to what some other budget cars are offering nowadays. While it’s fine for the shopping or perhaps a weekend getaway if you don’t get too ambitious, consider that rivals like the Grand i10 are offering up to 360 litres and even the Renaut Kwid swallows 279 litres.
The cabin has an unconventional, almost cubist design, and since we last tested the Ignis back in 2017, the range-topping GLX model has gained Suzuki’s touchscreen infotainment system, complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and a reverse camera.
The GLX also comes with keyless entry with push-button start, automatic climate control and silver interior trimmings.
But if you can live without the aforementioned luxuries, in other words you’re happy to slum it with manual aircon and a conventional radio, then the GL base model probably makes the most sense in the range, starting at R193 900. The GLX will set you back R223 900 in manual form or R240 000 if you want it with the AMT automated manual transmission.