Australia’s smallest SUV has had a midlife makeover.
The box-shaped Suzuki Ignis may look like an oddball car, but it has a slice of the new-car market almost to itself.
The high-riding hatchback has the driving position of an SUV, and a slightly taller ground clearance than most cars; however, it’s still more at home in the city.
The Suzuki Ignis aims to appeal to buyers who have a sense of adventure – or who want to create the perception of being able to escape the city, even if they’re stuck in gridlock with the rest of us.
In reality, the extra ground clearance is likely to be more helpful negotiating a speed bump or a concrete kerb than attempting to get off the beaten track.
The square body means Suzuki has maximised interior space. It also stands out from the crowd.
The 2021 Suzuki Ignis Series II is the first update to the car since it went on sale in early 2017. Limited stock has started to arrive in showrooms before supply ramps up in August 2020.
Although there are no technical changes to the 2021 Suzuki Ignis Series II, it has some new colour and trim options (three of the six colours are new, including super black, khaki and ivory, as seen here).
The price starts from $18,990 drive-away for a Suzuki Ignis GL five-speed manual – add $1000 for automatic transmission.
The flagship tested here, the Suzuki Ignis GLX, costs from $20,990 drive-away and is available with automatic only.
The main differences between the two: the GL is a five-seater and the GLX is a four-seater, gains 16-inch alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, LED headlights, a sensor key with push-button start, and the air-conditioning temperature setting has a digital display.
All models come with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, embedded navigation, a 12V power socket and a USB port.
All four doors have power windows, though none have one-touch operation. And unlike the recently updated Suzuki Swift, there is no digital speed display.
Standard safety includes six airbags; however, notably the Suzuki Ignis is one of a handful of cars still without autonomous emergency braking (AEB). It passes government requirements, but is regarded as “unrated” by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) crash test authority.
By comparison, the Kia Picanto has AEB and a four-star safety rating from 2017, while the Mitsubishi Mirage has AEB and a five-star safety rating from 2013.
The Suzuki Ignis GLX has two ISOFIX child seat mounts and two top tether points due to a 50:50 split-fold rear seat. The Suzuki Ignis GL has two ISOFIX child seat mounts and three top tether points due to a 60:40 split-fold rear seat.
A rear-view camera is standard on both models, but front and rear parking sensors are not fitted.
Cargo capacity on the Suzuki Ignis GLX is 264L – versus 271L on the GL because the back bench on the GLX is able to slide forward and back – versus 255L for the Kia Picanto X-Line. Under the boot floor is a skinny space-saver spare wheel and tyre.
The Suzuki Ignis is one of the most compact cars on sale in Australia. Its dimensions (length: 3700mm, width: 1660mm, height: 1595mm and wheelbase: 2435mm) make it ideal for squeezing into tight parking spots.
By comparison, its nearest rival, the Kia Picanto X-Line (a high-riding version of Australia’s top-selling city car available from $19,190 drive-away with auto), has similar dimensions. Length: 3670mm, width: 1625mm, height: 1500mm and wheelbase: 2400mm.
Both cars have the same super-tight turning circle of 9.4m, though the Suzuki Ignis has more ground clearance (180mm) than the Kia Picanto X-Line (156mm), and its driving position is slightly taller.
The cabin is relatively roomy for a city car, although oddment space is limited and it’s better suited as a runaround vehicle for inner-city singles and couples.
Back-seat knee room is a bit tight when the front seat is extended as far back as it can go.
The running costs are relatively low. The engine will happily run on regular unleaded petrol and the service intervals are 12 months/15,000km.
Capped-price servicing lasts for five years or 100,000km, whichever comes first.
Routine maintenance for the first three years/45,000km costs $897 and for the first five years/75,000km costs $1465. This is competitive for the class and the car industry in general.
It also undercuts the Kia Picanto X-Line, whose routine maintenance over three years/45,000km costs $1043 and for the first five years/75,000km costs $1839.
The Suzuki Ignis has a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, whereas its nearest rival, the Kia Picanto X-Line, has a seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.
On the road
Under the bonnet of the Suzuki Ignis is a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a modest output of 66kW/120Nm, though it’s on par with the Kia Picanto X-Line’s 1.2-litre four-cylinder (62kW/122Nm).
Fuel economy is frugal; the official consumption average for the Suzuki Ignis GLX automatic based on laboratory tests is 4.9L/100km, versus the 5.8L/100km rating on the Kia Picanto X-Line.
A 32L petrol tank gives the Suzuki Ignis GLX a theoretical driving range of 650km in ideal conditions, whereas the 35L tank gives the Kia Picanto X-Line a theoretical driving range of 600km in ideal conditions.
However, in real-world driving expect about 500–540km out of a tank in the Suzuki Ignis, as long as you’re not constantly stuck in traffic.
We saw an average of 5.9L/100km during our time with the Suzuki Ignis GLX automatic, covering about 300km in a range of suburban and flowing inter-urban driving. Our fuel consumption figure also included flooring the throttle during our 0–100km/h tests.
Of course, the Suzuki Ignis is not a race car, but we wanted to know just how fast or slow it was. It stopped the clocks in the 0–100km/h dash in an average of 11.3 seconds, which is a similar pace to the latest Toyota Prius hybrid in case you’re wondering.
This is only a guide to one element of its performance, because in city and suburban driving – when accelerating at city and suburban speeds – it happily keeps flow with the traffic.
The engine hums along without fuss and works well with the continuously variable automatic transmission. In essence it has one gear, which is why it can sound like it’s revving too much or a clutch is slipping when you floor the throttle, but this is normal behaviour for this type of gearbox.
This type of auto prefers to be driven with a light foot on the throttle, especially if you hate the noise of a revving engine.
Comfort over bumps is fair for the class and for such a small car. Tall suspension and relatively cushioned tyres (rather than low-profile performance rubber) do a decent job of dealing with bumps and ruts in the road.
Although the Suzuki Ignis weighs just 865kg with automatic transmission (about one-third lighter than most small cars), it took longer than expected to pull up in an emergency stop from 100km/h to zero.
With a stopping distance of 40.4m based on our precision timing equipment, the Suzuki Ignis needs the same amount of room to pull up as does a two-tonne Toyota HiLux ute.
Small front disc brakes (with drums at the rear) and skinny low-friction tyres are contributing factors here. That said, provided you leave ample room, there are no issues in this regard, and braking performance is average compared to many hatchbacks.
We don’t have brake test figures for the Kia Picanto, but it has four-wheel disc brakes, which may deliver a better result.
The Suzuki’s driving position is comfortable, though a height-and-reach-adjustable steering wheel (rather than tilt adjustment only) would be a welcome addition, as would a digital speed display.
Other interesting observations: resetting the trip computer takes some practice and the graphics are basic in design. The sun visors don’t extend far enough to block side glare, even when swung parallel to the front door windows.
On the plus side, the LED low-beam headlights on the GLX grade are nothing short of superb, and deliver luxury-car lighting to a budget-priced car. Unfortunately, it highlights the need for some improvement to the high-beam coverage. But overall, it has an impressive lighting package.