The $17,000 drive away Suzuki Ignis SUV road test and review
The Suzuki Ignis GL is the cheapest new SUV money can buy.
SUV you say? Aren't they supposed to do the off-roading bit along with carting the entire family plus the dog and luggage?
Not in 2017. So saturated is our market with anything a car company can brand "SUV" that they come in all shapes, sizes and abilities, with the tiniest of all Suzuki's new Ignis.
Just 3.7-metres in length and weighing a slimline 830kg, the front-wheel-drive Ignis qualifies as an SUV by its ride height, offering a decent enough 180mm of ground clearance.
But clearly the cutesy Ignis is more city fodder than mud track adventurer. Suzuki doesn't try to hide this fact either - it doesn't expect buyers to confuse the Ignis with its proud heritage of competent small off-roaders - but instead is offering a funky and fun micro SUV (unique to the class) to its line-up.
And it's a bit of an appealing charmer. Living with the Ignis for a week its cheeky face and unusual proportions - tall, skinny and slab-sided of rear - drew plenty of attention on the road, aided by its Flame Orange paintwork. Custom options, such as colourful decals and garnishes, can jazz things up even further.
At $16,990 drive away it also ticks the box for budget new car shopping, alerting first car buyers and empty nesters alike.
Consider it comes with a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, embedded sat nav, cruise control and rear camera it's pretty much nailed the key spec remit.
The Ignis is indeed a skinny car, but inside this is made up for by really impressive headroom. Rear passengers also get decent head and leg space for a micro car, but your boot's a tiddler at 264-litres. No passengers? Rear seats fold 60:40 to give you up to 1101-litres; not bad at all.
So what's the drive like? You're sitting on a loftier perch than most city cars, and from your sink-in comfy cloth seats you're in charge of a 1.2-litre four-cylinder with 66kW and 120Nm on tap. It's not much, but remember, you're only asking it to shift 830kg.
The Ignis playfully zips away from standstill, and is certainly an easy and darty little thing to negotiate in town and city due to its tiny size.
Its five-speed manual (a CVT auto is a $1000 option on this GL) is light and smooth, and on the highway at 110kmh it's reasonably comfy and doesn't get blown all over the road when passing larger vehicles.
Many city cars employ small turbo engines these days for a dash more low down torque, so the non-turbo Ignis misses out on any real urge when putting the foot down. Positively though the fuel economy is superb. Suzuki quotes 4.7-litres per 100km, and that was exactly my return after 600km.
The Ignis's ride height and skinny tyres mean it does suffer some body roll and any fast cornering should be taken with care. More enthusiastic drivers should look to Suzuki's Swift of Baleno (interestingly, both also $16,990 drive away) for lower centre of gravity thrills.
But overall, as a day-to-day companion, I had a ball with the Ignis. The two kids fitted in the back just fine, the cabin was far brighter than most with its mix of black, white and orange plastics and I felt the standard specification was generous indeed for the price.
Perhaps the cabin is a bit plasticky (my elbow resting on the unpadded armrest started hurting on longer drives), it misses out on some now commonplace active safety systems, and looks a tad funny from behind, but it's still a charmer.
Superbly priced, quirky, easy to live with and in vogue SUV styling (even if it isn't really an SUV) means the Ignis is a little delight.
Go wild with some customising and you'll brighten up your daily drive no end.
Model: Suzuki Ignis GL.
Details: Five-door, front-wheel-drive compact SUV/hatchback.
Engine: 1.2-litre four-cylinder Dualjet petrol with 66kW @ 6000rpm and 120Nm @ 4400rpm.
Transmission: Five-speed manual.
Consumption: 4.7-litres/100km (combined).
Bottom line: $16,990 drive away.
What matters most
What we liked: Quirkiness, included equipment especially Apple CarPlay and navigation, cheap drive away price, decent interior space for its size, ability to customise.
What we'd like to see: Less plasticky cabin, a digital speedo, a turbo engine perhaps with three-cylinders, more active safety gear at least optional, there should be an all-wheel-drive version offered.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year 100,000km warranty with capped price servicing of $199 per service. Service intervals are every six months or 10,000km.