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Suzuki Ignis long-term test

The Suzuki Ignis impressed us when we drove it at its local launch thank to its ease of use and spacious interior, but will it hold up over the coming months?

What are we testing: The Suzuki Ignis GLX

Who’s running it: Alex Rae

Why are we testing it: The Suzuki Ignis promises a funky light SUV that’s city-friendly with loads of space.

What it needs to do: Be an easy to drive, likeable runaround with a surprising amount of space and storage trickery, tick the gadget and techno boxes, and hold its own against hatchback rivals around town but provide a sense of SUV freedom on weekend road trips and lightly beaten paths.

2017 Suzuki Ignis GLX

Price $18,990 +ORC Warranty three years/100,000kms Engine  1.2-litre four-cylinder producing 66kW at 6000rpm and 120Nm at 4400rpm Transmission continuously variable automatic Drive front Dimensions 3700mm (L), 1660mm (W), 1595mm (H) Seats four Tare weight 865kg Fuel tank 32 litres Thirst 4.9L/100km Fuel petrol

17 September 2017 – Around the hills, out to the park and onto the freeway

THIS WEEK the Suzuki Ignis has been sipping as little petrol as possible and moving large objects around as I see just how frugal it can be while making the most of its large-for-its-size interior. I managed an average fuel consumption of 5.4L/100km last week but was sure I could do better, which would be very close to its claimed combined fuel consumption of 4.9L/100km.

As expected the best fuel consumption was when sitting at around 80km/h on longer drives and the 1.2-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine which is mated to a CVT transmission sat at around 1000rpm. The returned fuel consumption according to the trip computer was 4.4L/100km… Pretty good considering Suzuki’s claimed extra urban fuel consumption for the Ignis is 4.4L/100km, so it’s right on the money. Moving up to 100km/h on the freeway the engine works a little harder and sits at around 1500rpm. Fuel consumption goes up accordingly, but setting the cruise control and keeping off the throttle resulted in a a fuel consumption a little higher, at 4.9L/100km.

Over mixed urban conditions I only managed 5.3L/100km, so not much less than the previous week. The hills around my neighbourhood are what hurts the consumption most as the CVT hunts to higher revs to get the small engine working. But low 5s is a good result, and I’ll consider it case closed on whether it’s worth bothering to try to be so economical; it turns out I can drive without trying to be so frugal while keeping a low thirst anyway.

During the week I did notice the revs unexpectantly creep up a few times, and the cause was my knees bumping the sport mode button on the gearshift. When engaged an S appears next to the drive mode on the dash and it forces the CVT to select a more aggressive ‘gear’. A result of the tighter space up front between the doors.

The weekend presented an opportunity to try and load a wheeled 50L esky while keeping all the seats up. It’s a pretty bulky unit for its size and it couldn’t squeeze in the boot facing forward. However this Ignis GLX gets sliding rear-seats – which the GL models misses out on – and because they slide forward it could fit on its side. Although the passenger sacrifices legroom, it does mean four (yes, the GL seats five while the sliding rear seat GLX only seats four) can stay in the car. It turns out the sliding mechanism provides about an extra 14cm of room. The boot aperture is also reasonably wide (94cm wide, 96cm high) which allows for carrying large objects, which I made the most of by picking up some dining chairs.

With the passenger front and rear seats down a total cargo space of 210cm long and 60cm wide cargo space is afforded… enough for a surfboard or two.

This week’s highlight: The Ignis has become the go-to commuter (or cool little buzz box as a friend calls it) thanks to its easy commuting and easy parking. A trip to the city was painless (and cheap) when driving in and maneuvering into a tight parking space and, on the way home, a last minute call to pickup some dining chairs was possible thanks to the deep and high boot space.

12 September 2017 – The Suzuki Ignis long-term test begins

WHAT WE DISCOVERED in our short time with the Suzuki Ignis during its launch and our subsequent week -long test, is that it’s indeed a funky-retro style city car that offers a surprising amount of space. But a week long test doesn’t rarely offers the time required to put cars to the test on everything from road trips, hauling gear to negotiating city alleys and tight parking squeezes – so we’ll be doing just that with the Ignis over the next three months.

The Ignis has crafted its own segment (that will no doubt be bustling soon enough) as the market’s smallest and lightest SUV that, although tiny compared to nearly any SUV, isn’t quite a hatchback. The target market is young drivers, P platers (GL models from $15,990 +ORC) and inner-city dwellers and we’ll test it as such during our time with the car. But given it will be based in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges and some distance from the city, the little Ignis will be getting a fair workout in a variety of conditions.

The Ignis Suzuki has loaned us is the top model GLX which gets a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, reverse camera, cruise control and power windows, 16-inch alloys, DRL front headlights, climate control, tinted windows, keyless push start ignition and sliding and reclining rear seats. Our car has been personalised with white paint, a black roof and red accents, but there’s any number of colour combinations to choose from and, provided you pick a relatively neutral body paint, the bits like side mirrors and grill surrounds can be easily changed at the nearest Suzuki dealership. Specifically, side mirror covers and matching small colour accents on each wheel can be changed for around $80, while the front grill and fog light surrounds can be done for about $300.

So what’s it been like so far? Well I was keen to put its loading length to the test and took advantage of a run to the local hardware store to pick-up some skirting… and the result is impressive. The Ignis is 3700mm long, which is shorter than the Mazda 2, Ford Fiesta and Suzuki Swift hatchbacks, yet it was able to accommodate several pieces of 2700mm timber. That leaves just one metre for the headlights, engine, firewall and tailgate. With such efficient design it’s no wonder Suzuki has managed to shave the total weight of the Ignis GLX to 865kg (and the GL weighs just 820kg). This of course helps fuel consumption and performance from the small 1.2-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. There’s no turbocharged unit in the range, not that it needs it.

Performance (66kW/120Nm) is practical and, although lacking sharp throttle response found in some hatchback competitors, it is enough for keeping up in traffic and chugging up the many hills that dot the Dandenong Ranges (and there’s some steep ones). The transmission is a CVT but it doesn’t suffer the whir (or whine) of some, however I’ve caught myself out a few times sticking the shifter to the bottom gate to select drive which is actually low gear and revs out quickly. Despite a bit of revving and varied driving the first 32 litre tank of unleaded I exhausted managed 5.4L/100km, about 10 per cent off Suzuki’s claimed 4.9L/100km combined fuel consumption. I’m determined to get it as close to the claimed as possible.

Inside, the driver’s seat sits a little high (although height adjustable) and the steering wheel lacks tilt-and-reach adjustment, but overall it’s not hard to get comfortable and the relatively basic but apt for its price seats have been ergonomic and comfortable. You might get somewhat distracted inside, however, as the colour ascent from the outside flows in and contrasts against white and dark plastics. It matches the bright personality Suzuki has achieved with the Ignis though and touches like Apple CarPlay and reverse camera with guidelines as standard elevate the appeal and value.

I’m yet to explore the cabin space in every seat and I’ll leave that for another week, but so far the Ignis has proved a practical runabout that surprised with its loading capability. Given the GLX we’ve got is equipped with sliding and tilting rear-seat as standard, I’m looking forward to exploring the boot space and storage options further.

This week’s highlight: The Ignis has been delightfully less heavy on my wallet at the bowser than most test cars recently, and paying $38 for almost 600km range is welcome relief. Most surprising was the loading length which meant I didn’t need to get a ute or strap stuff to roof racks.

Next week: The Ignis will be subjected to storage space scrutiny as I figure out just how much cargo it can handle. Once stripped out again the right foot will be given orders to take it easy and see just how economical the small four-pot can be.

  • A Thompson

    Its really just an updated Renault 4. I had one and looking at the Ignis I can see multiple similarities.

Alex Rae

Alex Rae

Alex Rae grew up among some of the great stages of Targa Tasmania, an event that sparked his passion for all things mechanical. Currently living across Bass Strait in Melbourne, Alex has worked for the last decade in the automotive world as both a photographer and journalist, and is now a freelancer for various publications. When not driving for work Alex can be found tinkering in the shed on of one his project Zeds or planning his next gravel rally car.