With its trophy cabinet filling up with industry awards rather quickly, Suzuki has consistently been punching above its weight since re-entering the country on its own terms now over a decade ago.
Conservative makes way for funky
Recently though, the Hamamatsu based automaker has been focusing its attention on letting go of its rather conservatively styled models for something with a bit more character and aesthetic appeal. Enter the new Suzuki Ignis.
A name familiar to many Europeans having been around since 2000, the Ignis made its comeback at the Geneva Motor Show in 2015 after a seven year break, and immediately made its intensions known with a string of international awards following. Launched on local shores in May with 475 units already sold, the recent arrival of a Arctic White Pearl Metallic Ignis GLX made for a refreshing sight at the Autodealer office.
A real head-turner
As colleague Justin Jacobs noted in his launch report, the boxy SUV-like design of the Ignis, or urban SUV in Suzuki speak, makes for a rather appealing vehicle and one that stands out a lot more than its immediate rivals, the Renault Sandero Stepway, Toyota Etios Cross and Volkswagen Cross up!
With its slab-sided panels, chunky, flared wheel arches, honeycomb grille, angular square projector-type headlights with U-shaped daytime running LEDs and characteristic coupe-shaped C-pillar derived from the Cervo and Fronte Coupe sold in the '70s, the Ignis oozes charm and appeal. Adding to its cheeky demeanour are satin silver roof rails and a set of stylish black 15-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Ecopia rubber.
Modern yet simple inside...
Much like its exterior, the Ignis’ interior is a radical departure from Suzuki’s plain yet functional designs of late with a concave-like climate control panel, chrome detailing and, in an age of personalisation, a two-tone black and white dashboard, chrome door pulls, white door cards and a black transmission tunnel.
The biggest upshot though was the fitment of a freestanding 6.2-inch touchscreen Pioneer MIXTRAX infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB, as opposed to the standard unit’s rather old-fashioned red dot-matrix graphics. While not the most user-friendly of systems and appearing decidedly aftermarket, it nevertheless made for a useful option many future buyers are likely to tick given the Ignis’ youth focused target market.
Putting a slight damper on the interior though are a few hard to touch plastics with a decidedly cheap feel on top of the dash, and in the case of our tester, a slight rattle from the passenger side and the infotainment display.
There is however little to complain about once seated behind the wheel, with the tilt-adjustable steering column and height-adjustable driver’s chair making it easy to get comfortable. Just as impressive is cabin space with good levels of head and legroom up front, and sufficient amounts in the rear.
On the downside though, boot space is typical city car with only 260-litres on offer with the rear seats up, although this can be increased to 469-litres with the rear back folded down.
It comes loaded
Standard equipment is perhaps the most impressive aspect for vehicle with a with a sticker price of R189 900, with the GLX featuring a leather covered multi-function steering wheel, push-button start, electric windows all around, folding electric mirrors, a four-speaker sound system, dual front airbags, ABS with EBD and EBA, ISOFIX mounting point and rear parking sensors.
A powertrain and ride to match the looks
Its compact dimensions and looks are mostly overshadowed by when you give it some stick. Despite having only 61 kW/113 Nm at its disposal, the free-revving 1.2-litre petrol engine feels lively and eager to impress in spite of the claimed 165 km/h top speed and 0-100 km/h sprint time of 11.6 seconds.
Part of this frisky progress is a kerb weight of only 850 kg, and a slick five-speed manual gearbox with a light clutch action. The combination also had a profound effect on fuel consumption which came to a best of 5.3-litres/100 km, only 0.2 L/100 km down on Suzuki’s claimed figure.
Value for money is a often overused phrase when referring to a car as a package, yet it applies to the Suzuki Ignis. With a funky design, perky powertrain and good levels of standard kit, it deserves its recent inclusion as finalist for South African Car of the Year 2018 without hesitation.
Article written by Charl Bosch