The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.5
Suzuki pitches the Ignis as a miniature SUV, which it backs up by offering an all-wheel drive version under the brand’s Allgrip branding at the top of the range. As such it can function as a fun runabout for city and country dwellers alike, a facelift for the 2020 model year introducing an improved engine with ‘mild’ hybrid assistance to improve efficiency and CO2 numbers. An automatic gearbox option on two-wheel drive versions is another noteworthy feature for a car of this size. What the Ignis lacks in space, refinement and squishy plastics it makes up for in charm and charisma, though it’s worth pointing out only the higher-spec versions get the safety gear we’d consider essential in this day and age.
Reasons to buy
- Funky styling
- Cheap to buy and economical to run
- Tardis-like interior space
At a glance
Running costs for a Suzuki Ignis
The Ignis isn’t quite the bargain it was when we first tested it but it’s still an affordable car and, for all its small size, you get a lot for your money. To be fair that increase in price does now include the mild hybrid system, which was a cost option previously and improves the fuel consumption and CO2 figures. This helps a little on tax and petrol costs, though it’s worth bearing in mind it’s really more of a sophisticated start/stop system and can’t power the car on electric power alone like a ‘full’ hybrid – click here for a full explanation of how different hybrid systems work
Unfortunately for Suzuki the Fiat Panda now also features a similar mild hybrid system on its two-wheel drive versions and is cheaper to buy, as well as feeling a tad more substantial. There aren’t many small cars in this sector with the option of all-wheel drive but the Panda offers this too and is, again, cheaper to buy than the Suzuki, though the Panda 4x4 gets an old engine and is considerably worse on CO2 and fuel consumption.
Reliability of a Suzuki Ignis
Suzuki has an excellent reputation for reliability, which is backed up by the company’s impressive performance in Warranty Direct’s manufacturer standings, sitting very near the top of the table. There’s no specific data on the Ignis but it certainly gives the impression that it is solidly built, while the engines and gearboxes all have a polished, well-developed feel.
Safety for a Suzuki Ignis
The Ignis doesn’t score very well on official safety tests but buyers can at least throw money at the issue by either by going for a top-trim car or by specifying extra safety kit as part of an options pack. This includes a system called DCBS (Dual Camera Brake Support), which incorporates cameras mounted on each side of the rear-view mirror that function in a similar way to the human eye. The system can detect objects (including pedestrians) in the car's path and alert the driver, with full braking automatically applied if necessary. The top model also gets lane departure warning and ‘weaving alert’ as standard. All versions of the Ignis are fitted with six airbags, two ISOFIX locations, a flat-tyre monitoring system and electronic stability programme as standard.
How comfortable is the Suzuki Ignis
Despite its dinky dimensions – it’s considerably smaller than a Ford Fiesta, for instance - there’s a surprising amount of room inside. The entry-level cars get three seats in the rear and the backrests split and fold 60/40, so you can extend the Ignis’ modest load bay. If you step up to SZ-T trim the three seats become two but they slide back and forth for increased versatility and the backrests incline and divide 50/50.
Inside, the Ignis may not be big on material substance but it looks fun. With contrasting acid blue and Jaffa orange instrumentation, what looks like a discarded thermos flask turned on its side housing the air-con controls, and a row of ancillary toggle switches, it’s a refreshingly cheerful treatment, especially compared to the rather bland cabins in other Suzukis. Unfortunately, the steering column only adjusts for height and when we say adjusts, we mean it nose-dives onto your lap like an anvil off a cliff as you release the locking lever. Not to be outdone, the glovebox lid also crashes from its mooring with a proper wallop when you release it. Although the overall ambience is undoubtedly funky, it pays not to look too closely at many of the fixtures and fittings.
On the road the Ignis is short, tall and narrow, which means a small ‘footprint’ for squeezing through gaps but raises fears it will feel a bit top-heavy. In fact, it really doesn’t. Excellent body control means the car feels reasonably nimble but the slow steering – and its unwillingness to self-centre – is a little disconcerting at first. The suspension is also pretty firm and the Ignis jitters over bumpy urban streets and sends a thump through your backside over potholes and the like. Things improve at motorway speeds, where the Ignis feels better than you might expect for its small size.
Features of the Suzuki Ignis
In comparison to some manufacturers' rather confusing line-ups, the Ignis is pretty straightforward. There are simply SZ3, SZ-T and SZ5 trim levels and, while the entry-level SZ3 version is pretty basic, it will give you air-con, electric windows, a CD player and DAB radio with USB connectivity. You’ll also be stuck with steel wheels and plastic covers, but you do get three fixed rear seats instead of the two sliding items found in the higher-spec cars. Something to consider if you regularly carry more than two passengers in the back. On top of that, SZ-T models get a 7.0-inch touch-screen infotainment system, which links directly to your smartphone and incorporates Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Top-spec SZ5 trim includes this and sat-nav, keyless entry, dual-zone climate control and LED headlights, as well as the crucial extra safety kit mentioned earlier. The Allgrip version can only be had in SZ5 trim.
Power for a Suzuki Ignis
All versions of the Ignis are powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine with 83 horsepower, assisted by what’s known in the jargon as an 'integrated starter generator’ supplementing the regular alternator and starter motor. In plain English this is a small electric motor controlling the start-stop system and able to give a small boost of additional power, hence the ‘mild hybrid’ description.
In truth the electric motor doesn’t add much to performance and, once the initial assistance tails off, you’re left with the same shortage of low- and mid-range torque shown in the previous, non-hybrid version. This means downshifts are needed for gradients and attempts to push past slower traffic, though given a 0-60mph sprint time that wouldn’t scare a librarian’s book trolley you won’t be encountering the latter too often. The CVT automatic is a fraction faster against the stopwatch, though we haven’t tested it to see if that plays out across the board.
If you can look past this there is fun to be had. The engine loves to be revved and the gearshift is lovely and slick so buzzing along, zipping in and out of traffic and wringing every ounce of performance is a proper hoot. Granted, that does make life pretty noisy, but that kind of adds to fun. And, unlike some city cars, the Ignis feels encouragingly solid on the motorway, with the engine feeling relaxed at cruising speeds.