The New Zealand supermini class is about to be shaken up by the arrival of the funky new Suzuki Ignis five-door hatchback.
While the name might be familiar since it harks back to earlier Suzuki models, the latest generation global compact crossover FF21S model is completely new and makes a strong, youthful styling statement.
A unique design with slightly retro looks, the Ignis looks like nothing else on the busy motor vehicle market, arriving as a highly practical city car that is equally happy on the open road.
Standing out in the crowd and arriving in New Zealand at the same time as it breaks cover internationally, the Ignis is clearly more than simply another new model. Suzuki’s small car expertise has never been better expressed than with this keenly priced newcomer.
Bringing a breath of fresh air to the small car sector, the distinctive SUV style, bold details, light weight and remarkably spacious interior for such a compact vehicle leave the Ignis with no apparent rivals.
With a cute looking front end, chunky wheel arches, an angled roofline and relatively high body for convenience, this latest Suzuki has real personality and is a most distinctive small car.
It embodies styling touches from previous Suzuki’s, including the “C” pillar slits from the 1970s Giugiaro-designed Fronte coupe and the headlight positioning of the first generation Cervo. Blacked-out “A” and “B” pillars are inherited from the Swift while the clamshell-shaped bonnet and guard garnish reference the original 1988 Vitara SUV.
An advanced lightweight platform uses simple shapes to resist deformation, joints that centre on rigid areas, and engineers made further weight reductions by focusing on the whole platform rather than parts of it.
Suzuki claims the Ignis platform is 10 percent more rigid than similarly sized vehicles and a compact engine compartment helps increase cabin space.
Weight savings reduce loads on engine, chassis and result in better handling and also reduce stopping distances. In addition, for every 100 kg saved there is a 5 to 6 percent improvement in fuel efficiency. With the added advances of high tensile steel and fewer welds and joins, the new Ignis platform has resulted in a 13 percent weight saving and the car’s unladen weight is a trim 820 kg in manual transmission form and 865 kg as an automatic.
Sitting on a wheelbase of 2,435mm, the compact crossover is 3,700mm long, 1,660mm wide and 1,595mm high and boasting 180mm ground clearance - perfect dimensions for busy city and urban motoring.
Three versions of Ignis go on sale in New Zealand, each with the 1,242cm3 K12C 4-cylinder, 16-valve double overhead camshaft engine. This multi-point fuel injected power plant has variable valve technology and produces 66kW of power at 6,000 rpm and 120 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm.
Dualjet engine technology developed by Suzuki uses twin fuel injectors for improved fuel economy. The fuel injectors are positioned close to the engine inlet valves which allows for finer fuel atomisation (or mixture). The 1.2 litre motor has improved thermal efficiency and low-friction technology and produces low emissions. In manual transmission form, the Ignis emits just 107 grams per litre of CO2, rising to 114 grams per litre with the CVT automatic model.
A choice of 5-speed manual or continuously variable CVT automatic with hill hold control are available on the GLX grade while the higher specification LTD is only offered with CVT automatic.
In the combined fuel cycle, the manual version returns 4.7 litres/100 km (60.1 miles per gallon), and the CVT auto is slightly higher at 4.9 litres/100 km (57.6 mpg).
There are ventilated front disc brakes and drum brakes at the rear. The front suspension comprises McPherson strut and coil springs, while the rear suspension uses a torsion beam and coil springs.
GLX models come with 15-inch diameter steel wheels shod with 175/65 section tyres, while LTDs are fitted with black 16-inch aluminium alloy wheels and 175/60 tyres. A tight turning circle of 4.7 metres is a bonus during crowded city driving. On the road the car feels nimble, while the ride is cushioned and controlled at speed.
An elevated seating position aids visibility and there is both excellent leg and head room front and rear. LTD grade includes two individual sliding and reclining rear seats, while GLX has 60:40 split folding fixed rear seats. The boot is deep with a space saver wheel located under a false floor. Load area capacity with the rear seats in an upright position is 271 litres, increasing to a maximum volume of 1,104 litres with both rear seats folded.
In line with the extrovert character of the car, customers can personalise the Ignis with blue, grey, orange or red interior colour accents for both exterior and interior. These colours can be applied to the lower centre console, door trim and air vents.
A two-colour interior finish is complemented by glossy body-colour door pulls, and the bright interior is as different as the car’s exterior. There are six body colours - pearl white, silver, blue and orange plus the option of a black roof for white and red LTD models.
Safety is paramount, as exemplified by the standard fitment of an electronic stability programme (ESP), ABS with EBD, brake assist, six airbags and side impact beams. CVT models have hill holding control and shift lock and key interlock.
Pedestrian protection is enhanced by extra shock absorption built into the bonnet, front wiper area, front bumper and bonnet lip to reduce collision impact. Decoupling mechanism for brake and clutch pedals, an ISOFIX child seat restraint system and child seat tether anchorages are standard.
A bright and youthful interior design is also highly practical with well marked controls and high positioning of instruments.
Being small does not mean going without, and the GLX comes as standard with air conditioning and pollen filter, cruise control with speed limiter that sets a maximum speed, power assisted steering, electric windows and electrically adjustable door mirrors. Fabric seat material is standard on GLX and has contrast stitching on LTD, and the steering column is adjustable for both tilt and reach.
A computer displays fuel consumption (instantaneous and average) and fuel range distance to empty, while there is a four-speaker (six-speaker on LTD) audio system, Bluetooth audio-streaming and hands-free calling, remote central door locking, digital clock and outside temperature gauge and 60:40 folding rear seats.
Audio and phone controls are located on the three spoke leather-bound steering wheel that has audio and cruise control with speed limiter. Halogen multi-reflector headlamps, front fog lamps, body coloured mirrors and door handles and rear wiper and washer are also included in the GLX package.
The LTD model adds climate control air conditioning, keyless entry with push button start, Bosch touch-screen tuner with satellite navigation, Apply CarPlay, Android Auto and a handy safety-conscious reversing camera.
This high spec version also comes with chrome front grille surround, LED protector headlamps with automatic levelling, automatic dusk-sensing headlamps, LED daytime running lamps and privacy glass for the rear window and hatchback glass. The “guide me home” light function provides illumination for a selectable period on leaving the car and when doors are unlocked by remote low beam and position lamps turn on to lead the driver to the vehicle.
The 5-speed manual Ignis GLX has a recommended retail price of $18,990, and the CVT automatic is $20,500, while the more highly specified LTD CVT automatic is $22,500 or $22,990 when specified with a black roof. All prices exclude on road costs.
“The Ignis is as much about form as function and it further strengthens our small car lineup,” said Gary Collins, General Manager of Marketing for Suzuki New Zealand. “Demand for compact crossover SUV models continues to increase and while Ignis is sure to be a car with low running costs, it also makes a real point of difference with its colourful styling inside and out.”
“We have equipped both levels of the Ignis with comprehensive standard equipment in line with consumer demand,” he said. “Ignis could be the most affordable motoring surprise of the year.”