Looks superb, doesn’t use much fuel, chirpy character, possible AWD
Hybrid tech makes it less of a bargain, choppy ride
What is it?
Meet Suzuki’s rival to not only the Volkswagen Up, Hyundai i10 and Toyota Aygo, but the Dacia Duster. It’s a city car, and yet somehow more than that: it’s also a 4x4 crossover, a hybrid, and a cute pet sidekick.
The design of the Ignis is, for our money, the most endearing and downright cool piece of city car sketching since the equally boxy Up. It’s even slightly retro: the dimples in the roof pillar hark back to the rear-engined Suzuki Whizzkid of the 1970s.
So it’s a throwback?
Not at all. It’s got a new platform, new engines, and new interior thinking. And at the base of it all, it’s ultra lightweight. At under 900kgs, it might blow away in a stiff breeze. But don’t go thinking that it’s not useful: the platform makes merry with super high-strength steel, which is expensive and tricky to work with, but the upshot is Suzuki doesn’t need to use a lot of it, because it’s so strong.
As we mentioned, that means the Ignis is light. Really light. The base model comes in at a sub-Lotus Elise 895kg, which is notably lower than its key rivals despite its new, hybrid-only powertrain. Have we mentioned that the Ignis is light yet?
You did indeed. What’s new?
Mid-life update time brought the Ignis a shinier grille, better sound deadening and some neater interior details, but it’s also applied 12v mild-hybrid tech across the range. Which actually means power’s dropped a little on older Ignises, from 89bhp to 82bhp, though its 12.7sec 0-62mph time is pretty much as before. AKA not so quick.
The battery only weighs 7kg and lives under the rear seats, keeping the centre of gravity low and boot space unimpeded. You’ll never charge your Ignis, nor be able to run down to the shops with the engine off. Its most tangible benefit is how smooth it makes the stop/start process in traffic and up to junctions, the engine cutting out when you drop below 10mph or so, and restarting so much quicker than in more conventionally powered rivals. In the city car market, it’s a big deal.
What does that mean for fuel economy?
In real-world driving, the Ignis happily returns over 50mpg without effort, against a claim of 55.7mpg. You’ll beat that if you’re really trying. And for the most part, you’ll never know the hybrid system is working away in the background.
There’s an automatic gearbox option, though we’d stick with the five-speed manual possessing of Suzuki’s typically satisfying shift, which is lightweight and slick. Although you do have to be firm when putting the car into reverse. You can also have all-wheel drive – Suzuki badges it Allgrip – to give the Ignis the mountain goat performance of the much-loved Fiat Panda 4x4 or aforementioned Duster, as well as provide those mourning the loss of the Suzuki Jimny a place to reinvest their emotions. It’s never going to be particularly adept at mud-plugging, but it’ll get about.
The only slight issue is that the Ignis used to be a bit cheaper: now the range starts at £16,249 for the base SZ-T and jumps to £17,249 for the SZ5, and the AWD AllGrip system is only available as an option on the SZ5. Autos can be had on either model for a grand. Meanwhile a bottom-of-the-range Fiat 500 starts at a smidge under £15k (at the time of typing), and that’s got a tidy bit of character, too.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The Ignis is a well-priced, well-equipped, fun to drive and spacious city car with hybrid-efficiency and light off-roading USPs: it’s a real unsung hero among the usual small car suspects.
Add to that its utterly loveable design and character and you’ve got one of the most compelling little runabouts on sale. The fact an AWD can fill the void left by the Jimny – with much, much better road manners and fuel efficiency to boot – only adds a string to the little Ignis’s bow.