BY ANDY ENRIGHT
Category killers, segment busters, call 'em what you like, but the Suzuki Ignis is a prime exponent. The first reaction of many would be to question quite what it thinks it is. With supermini dimensions, a micro-MPV roofline and almost compact 4x4 chunkiness about the front, the Ignis competes with Mazda's Demio for the title of Britain's most confusing small car. So far, buyers seem to have been similarly puzzled by the appeal of the Ignis and have settled for more conventional fare. If you manage to track down a used example, the Ignis makes a perfectly acceptable um. Answers on a postcard to the usual address.
Models Covered: Series 1 (3/5dr hatchback 1.3 petrol [GA, GL, Sport]: Series 2 1.3, 1.5 [4GRIP])
The Suzuki Ignis probably adheres top the 'History is bunk' school of thought insofar as it doesn't possess a great deal. Introduced in 2000 in three or five door forms with one engine and a choice of either manual or automatic transmissions, the Ignis failed to create a spark although even without the automatic option, the Ignis managed to walk away with Auto Express' 'Best City Runner' category in their 2001 Good Car Guide. Granted it's not really on a par with European Car of The year, but it goes to show the Ignis is no dud. In 2003 Suzuki announced a 107bhp 1.5-litre Sport version which commemorated Suzuki's entry into the Junior World Rally Championship. Autumn 2003 saw the announcement of an all-new Ignis line up. Bigger and smoother than its predecessor, it was also better equipped and included an all-wheel drive 1.5-litre 4GRIP variant. The Ignis was shelved in 2008.
What You Get
The Ignis' tall shape and the high-set 4x4-style seating position make it well suited to urban use. The fact that the Ignis sits higher off the ground than all its rivals has a number of useful benefits apart from giving it that chunkier look. With a minimum of 6.5 inches (165mm) between the ground and the underneath of the car, traversing unmade roads and encountering everyday hazards like speed humps and roadworks create no problem. You'll also find the back easier to load and the side-pillar-mounted tail light clusters are easier for following motorists to see in an emergency. Inside, there's room for four full-sized adults on chairs that should prove surprisingly comfortable, incorporating a sophisticated springing system that distributes pressure applied by the occupant's back and legs. Even the rear seats can be recline-adjusted and, thanks to that high-set driving position, all offer a more commanding view of the road than you'd normally expect from a car of this type. No such luck for your luggage however. The designers have used virtually all the available space for passengers, meaning that with the rear seat backs upright, capacity is restricted to just 181 litres - enough for a golf bag but not a lot else. To cope with a large weekly shop, you'll probably have to fold one or both of the rear seats down (there's a 50/50 split-fold), creating a more useful 419 litres of space. That doesn't help when it comes to family holidays of course, when the only option would probably be to order one of the special roof rack and storage box systems you'll find in the options catalogue. At least what room is on offer is easily accessible. The tailgate aperture - like the luggage compartment - is wide and there's no 'lip' over which awkward heavy items must be manhandled. The Series 2 cars have a good deal more going for them in terms of versatility and space. Suzuki certainly paid attention to those who carped about the old Ignis' lack of utility space. With big pockets that incorporate bottle holders on every door, separate cup holders, under dash cubbies and a storage tray located beneath the front passenger seat, there's plenty of opportunity to stow bits and bobs. The attention to detail is impressive, Suzuki fitting the Ignis with a 60/40 split rear seat back that can be reclined for comfort. Deadlocks, freewheeling key cylinders, an immobiliser and a visible VIN are all featured as well as remote central locking on every model.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
The Suzuki Ignis is a largely reliable car, the problem being it has sold in such modest numbers that patterns of faults have yet to appear. As with any car that's going to be used extensively in the city, check for parking knocks and scrapes and look at the front tyres for signs of uneven wear. Also have a look for accident damage, as the Ignis is sometimes bought as a first car, post-driving test. Otherwise check for a fully stamped up service history.
(approx based on a 2000 Ignis 1.3GL). A clutch assembly retails at around £165, whilst front brake pads are around £40 a pair with rear shoes approximately £30. A new starter motor will set you back around £195, and a new radiator is £300. Pray that you don't need to buy a new alternator, as one of these will cost you £450.
On the Road
The word 'Ignis' is derived from the Latin for 'fire', not that you'll be expecting too much of that from under the bonnet. In which case, you might be in for something of a pleasant surprise. Suzuki developed an aluminium 16-valve 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol unit for this car and feels so pleased with it that no other engine options are being offered. Output is a decent 83bhp and, thanks to low gearing and a light 945kg weight, the car moves along at a very reasonable pace, though top speed is a mediocre 99mph. Of far more relevance of course in this sector of the market is fuel consumption and here, the Ignis really shines. Expect about 33mpg around town, about 44mpg in normal mixed use and nearly 55mpg on the motorway - figures normally reserved for diesel-powered rivals. Not that you'll want to do too much motorway travel in this Suzuki: the tall shape and the high-set 4x4-style seating position make it more suited to urban use. The fact that the Ignis sits higher off the ground than all its rivals has a number of useful benefits apart from giving it that chunkier look. With a minimum of 6.5 inches (165mm) between the ground and the underneath of the car, traversing unmade roads and encountering everyday hazards like speed humps and roadworks create no problem. You'll also find the back easier to load and the side-pillar-mounted tail light clusters are easier for following motorists to see in an emergency.
The Ignis has more going for it than you'd at first imagine. It does nothing badly and quite a lot extremely well. In a market of lookalike anonymity the Ignis represents a breath of fresh air. Opt for a yellow three door and you'll certainly create an impression.