Now that Suzuki’s quirky Jimny is no longer an option if you’re in the market for an ultra-compact SUV, the car maker’s Ignis has assumed its mantle as the choice for buyers seeking something small, left-field, yet capable. This refreshed model builds on the Ignis of 2017, with a cosmetic nip and tuck fore and aft, new colours, and the adoption of a 1.2-litre petrol mild hybrid powertrain.
If you want an Ignis, this engine is the only game in town now, and incorporates the latest version of the Dualjet 1.2-litre motor with an uprated 12-volt hybrid system and lithium-ion battery pack to boost both efficiency and performance. 2WD cars emit a WLTP friendly 114g/km and 55.7mpg, while you’ll take a small hit with the 4WD model, at 123g/km CO2 and 51.9mpg.
My preference is usually for compact cars, as you won’t find me at Ikea every weekend, or emptying the contents of my garden at the local recycling centre. But there’s compact and then there’s compact, and Suzuki’s Ignis really is compact at only 3.7 metres long. This had me wondering whether my ear would be bent by squashed rear seat passengers, or that I’d be cursing every time I filled the modest 204 litre boot – without the extra 4WD gubbins, boot capacity is a more reasonable 260 litres. Time will tell, but given that I’m running the top specification SZ5 model, the inclusion of a two-seat rear split-fold bench that can slide fore and aft to benefit legroom or boot space should take the edge off any shortcomings.
I’ve gone all in and embraced all-wheel drive, which might sound like overkill on a car this small and better suited to the urban jungle than the real thing. But in the depths of winter and when splashing through the rain, I reckon I’ll be the smug one. Okay, it’s actually an automatic system that pushes power to the rear if a loss of traction is detected. But it’s bundled with hill descent control, suggesting that it is capable of more than just scaling the dizzy heights of the kerbs outside my local supermarket. I look forward to veering off the road in a controlled manner to explore its abilities further.
The diminutive Suzuki’s appearance might suggest that the ownership experience will be a modest one, yet kit levels are high in SZ5 guise. The full infotainment experience – DAB radio, Bluetooth, built-in navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay – is present, along with climate control, automatic headlights, autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist, four electric windows, and keyless entry and ignition. Base SZ3 models get air conditioning, LED headlights, Bluetooth and DAB radio, while the middle ranking SZ-T adds a rear-view parking camera, individually sliding rear seats, alloy wheels and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Alongside the five-speed manual transmission, there’s a new CVT option for two-wheel drive SZ-T and SZ5 variants.
Initial impressions are encouraging, with the petrol motor’s 82bhp proving more than adequate for spirited urban driving. The mild hybrid boost when accelerating is welcome, as is the energy regeneration when off the throttle. Hopefully this will be reflected in the car’s fuel economy. The engine’s stop-start function is impressively quick, while pitch and roll are pleasingly low, despite the car’s tall stance. Motorway running does result in more cabin noise, but so far not enough to spoil the journey.
It’s hard to ignore the considerable amount of hard cabin plastics, but overall quality is high, and there are a few funky design details to keep things interesting. I’ll reserve judgement on the few quirks I’ve observed until next time, but I’m already warming to the car’s offbeat character and appearance. And I’ve already noticed that it’s been turning a few heads – not something that happens with your average urban runabout.
Date arrived 26th October 2020
Economy (WLTP combined) 51.9mpg
Economy (On test) 54.3mpg
The fully featured infotainment system is easy to operate and boasts seamless mobile phone integration.
It’s good to have powerful headlights, but the auto function is a little too sensitive at times.