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The Top Gear car review:Suzuki Ignis
For:Looks superb, doesn’t use much fuel, low prices, chirpy character
Against:The ride’s pretty unsophisticated… and that’s about it
What is it?
Meet Suzuki’s rival to the likes of the VW Up, Fiat 500 and Toyota Aygo. 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.
Not that the Ignis is a throwback. It’s got a new platform, new engines, and new interior thinking. And at the base of it all, it’s ultra lightweight. 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.
This means the Ignis is light. Really light. The base model comes in at a sub-Lotus Elise 810kg, and a mid-range model is still just 855kg. That’s around 100kg lighter than the VW Up, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii trio. And there are predictably big benefits for efficiency and chuckability.
There’s no diesel engine, nor a tiny 1.0-litre three-cylinder option that fools the eco tests but isn’t so green in real life. You can have a 1.2-litre petrol four cylinder engine with 89bhp driving the front wheels, or a very mild hybrid set-up with a tiny battery and slight electric boost. 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. The electric boost is here to help you with hill starts and slip-road acceleration. Suzuki says it’s a more cost-effective, economical solution than a turbocharger, and besides its elegance, we’d have to agree. In real-world driving, the Ignis happily returns over 50mpg, against a claim of 61.4mpg (and 103g/km). For the most part, you’ll never know the hybrid system is working away in the background.
There’s an automatic gearbox option to avoid – the five speed manual is a typically satisfying Suzuki shift, lightweight and slick. You can also have all-wheel drive – Suzuki badges it Allgrip - and though this isn’t good news for the ride, it does give the Ignis the mountain goat performance of the much-loved Fiat Panda 4x4.
Inside, the body profile means there’s headroom to shame a cathedral, though kneeroom is a bit of a squeeze in the back, and the kinked windowline erodes your view out. Sure, the trim is hardly plush, but it feels darn tough, though some of the idiosyncratic switchgear and the touchscreen are a tad more difficult to use than in more mainstream rivals. Get used to them, mind, and it becomes all part of the Ignis’s character.
So, the prices. The basic model is a quid under £11,000, and a hybrid-equipped all-wheel-drive Ignis is £14,999. For such a useful little tool, that feels like a lot of car for the money.