A week with a Suzuki Ignis

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It’s a new small Suzuki. No, not like the Swift. Smaller than that.

Day one:

The Ignis arrives at my office mid-way through the working day. A few of us go out to the car park to have a poke around it. In pictures it looks quite big and chunky thanks to its fake off-roader styling shenanigans; in real life it’s comically microscopic. The front is claimed to take inspiration from the first Vitara while the back is an homage to the old Whizzkid of the 1970s. The overall effect is unusual and quite handsome, especially since the wheels are at the corners giving the whole thing what car designers would call ‘a good stance’. More design has happened on the inside with the pod for the heater controls and the body colour centre bits and door pulls but it’s not quite as successful as the outside and some of the plastics are a bit Poundland. Also, there’s a Pioneer touch screen nav and stereo unit crudely integrated with a bespoke surround, like a cheap iPad knock-off in a posh sleeve. In general, though, they’ve made an effort and that’s always nice.

First driving impressions are of incredibly light controls and a nice zingy engine. This looks like the sort of car that should have three cylinders but it doesn’t. It’s a four. You might also think the engine is at the back because that’s where it was in the Whizzkid. But the vents stamped on the rear panel of the Ignis are fake and the motor sits at the front. I go to collect my wife. ‘What’s this little guy?’ she asks as she gets in. Interesting that on first encounter she’s anthropomorphised it. You wouldn’t get that with an Up.

Day two:

In the morning light, I’m not sure about the Ignis’s arse. It ends abruptly and those retro fake slats are a bit contrived. Although Euro car makers are happy to plunder their back catalogues for design ideas so why shouldn’t Japanese ones? My mate Jim comes over. He likes the Ignis. ‘Oh, I like that,’ he says. So maybe I’m wrong about the arse. The rest of it’s quite sweet. This particular press demonstrator is an orangey colour that Suzuki says was inspired by the colour of molten metal. Ooooooh-kayyyyyy.

Day three:

I put my little boy in the Ignis today. He’s almost three. Do you like the funny little orange car? He starts giggling. Later he asks if we can go in the orange car again. In the afternoon I stick a towel on the back seat and invite my dog to get in. The dog hates going in cars. There’s not a make or model I’ve found that I can get her into without some undignified lifting and shoving and quite often a bit where I hiss, ‘Just get in the car you furry prick’ at the precise moment a stranger walks past. But as soon as I open the back door on the Ignis, she jumps in. Amazing. So there you go, the Suzuki Ignis; popular with children and animals.

Day four:

Zooming about London, I realise the Ignis is making me drive like a bit of a tit, simply because it’s very amusing to rag it everywhere. A lot of this is down to the engine, which is very excellent. It’s smooth and quiet unless you really hammer it, it’s got guts even from quite low down, and according to the car’s own computer it seems determined to do at least 50mpg everywhere, even when operated with a heavy foot. Also, the uncommon lightness of the gearchange means you can flick it between gears with delicate fingers and minimal effort. It’s another thing that helps the Ignis feel lively. Although I suspect the main thing that makes it feel lively is that it’s not very heavy, being just 855 kilos where the lightest Up is 926 kilos and the slimmest Panda 940kg.

Day five:

There’s a chance for some light helmsmanship today and the Ignis turns out to be rather good fun. The ride is very good for a small car, but it doesn’t roll comically in bends and there’s plenty of grip. The steering’s a bit dead eyed in the usual electro-assistance way but that doesn’t detract from the general amusement of fanging about in this thing, banging up and down that slick gearbox, revving that hearty engine, and quietly smiling to yourself inside a bright orange flea. The Suzuki Swift Sport is one of my very favourite cars and I found myself wondering what an Ignis Sport would feel like. With some tighter damping, a bit more crispness to the controls, a snadge more horsepower I think it could be tremendous.

Day six:

Back to everyday practicalities, today’s being the need to get an adult human in the back alongside the excited toddler who wants to go everywhere in the ‘orange car’. Normally in a titchy hatch like this I’d have to move my seat forward to allow someone to sit behind, and then drive along pressed into the wheel like one of those myopic buffoons in a Corsa who will one day receive an airbag to the throat. But in the Ignis, this is not so. I can leave the front seat set right for 6’3” of me, and a person can sit behind in surprising comfort. This is very impressive, and acheived in part because the back seat slides back and forth by about six inches. So you can have decent rear space or a bit more boot room. And the bench is split 50/50 so you can opt for one side back and one forward. This is all very smart thinking.


The Ignis has to go back. Which is a shame. My wife likes it. My son likes it. Even my dog likes it. And I like it too. You know what it is? It’s likeable. On a practical note, it’s also roomy and economical. And it’s really rather amusing to drive, making you feel nippy and cheeky as you dart about urban areas, as all good small cars should do. It’s not perfect of course. The interior plastics aren’t amazing, the stereo/nav system is aftermarket shonky, and it’s not quite as cheap as you might expect but in every other respect it’s terrific, being more jaunty than an Up and more lively than a Panda. I think I’d have it over either.

The car talked about here is a Suzuki Ignis 1.2 SZT. It has a 1.2-litre petrol engine making 89 horsepower. It can go from 0-62 in 11.8 seconds and on to 106mph. In this trim it costs £11,499.


  1. Apparently the Pioneer unit will not be fitted on production European models as Suzuki is popping their own sat nav in

  2. This is good news. I’m glad you liked it.
    They used to do an Ignis Sport which was a hoot even though it looked like a van. I knew this as I had one and had the piss mercilessly ripped out of me for this.
    I am now a complete cock and drive an massive Audi barge, but I remember by Suzuki fondly.

  3. I rather liked it until I said it’s full name out loud. The Suzuki Ignis bit was absolutely fine, but then, to my horror, I heard myself saying “ess zee tee.”

    Which feels a little Canadian* to be honest.

    *If that is offensive to Canadians, please replace Canadian with American.

  4. According to the globalsuzuki website the three rear corner slits (copied across to the front console) originally come from the Fronte coupe while the Whizzkid/Cervo influenced the headlamps. It’s a shame they haven’t put the powerful but lightweight 1 litre Boosterjet engine in rather than the more plodding 1.2 but, being a motorbike manufacturer, Suzuki make great engines anyway. The Pioneer headunit gets replaced in a year’s time but it seems odd that they didn’t do it that way in the first place. Good to see they have got their styling mojo back after the naff SX4 noses and Baleno interior. In Japan the new Ignis comes in a jacked up and shorter version which looks seriously weird.

  5. I was curious about Ignis from Suzuki,after visit to Nexa at Kolhapur I am totally impressed. It’s compact,beautifully designed car.After old Zen this is ‘the’ car which fulfills all the expectations of small and nice car.

  6. The important question that wasn’t answered in the test was does it have the same”safety feature” as its sister the Celery where the brake pedal collapses if you press it too hard? Or didn’t Sniff have the cahones to try it? (Chapeau to the Autocar tester who got into a second Celery and did it again, presumably after changing his underpants).

  7. Canadians say ‘zed’ just like you.

  8. Car is good for city parking point of view or city drive all the requirement but pricing factor is on higher side looking into competitive very slightly lower to sedan pricing.
    Need to recheck on pricing.
    I was waiting for this from last 2months finally, after looking at the pricing l booked other vehicle.

  9. Glad to hear that Simon2. I had a hunch the Canadians were good ‘uns.

  10. An Inglis? Fucking Magic!
    That is Canadian! About bloody time, Robert.

    Here is a wee film about the Inglis factory:

    Crankie Shaft? Shut it.

  11. This review has more than the usual level of Roy Lanchester about it. I’ll be honest at the point where you placed a towel on the back seat I feared for the worst.

    Fortunately the review was excellent

  12. I had an Ignis sport back in the day. It was yellow and covered in Suzuki motorsport stickers it was epic. I thrashed the living daylights out of every time I drove it. I miss that car so much.

  13. Nice choice for a city car (even that “molten metal” orange is nice)… shame it has the arse-end of a Picasso that’s been squashed sideways.

  14. How is the pedal placement and spacing? Are they well placed for some gratuitously unnecessary yet amusingly feel good rev matched downshifts even into first as you come to stop at some red lights?

  15. Suzuki had to wait for the Aftermarket Pioneer head unit to become old and out of date before they rebadge it in their own image and claim to have designed it themselves! – It will be worse than what you have as they will have changed all the useful coloured buttons to black to save 0.0000003p. It will still sound terrible as they spend less than 3p on the speakers and don’t treat the door panels to stop them flapping about like bat wings.

  16. It evokes a handy city zoomer that knows the roads are packed with vans, SUVs and fatmobiles yet isn’t afraid to push through. Go you brave little thing, and good luck to you.

  17. I had an Ignis sport back in the day. It was yellow and covered in Suzuki motorsport stickers it was epic. I thrashed the living daylights out of every time I drove it. I miss that car so much.

  18. There’s a rather smart original Ignis Sport in black at a tyre place near me. I often think about how much fun it would be to drive.

    There seems to be something about a lot of the smaller Suzukis that makes you want to drive them like a tit. We had an SX4 for a bit and the combination of light car and revvy 1.6L engine meant you couldn’t fail but hoon the thing everywhere you went. The ride was also terrible, which meant that on Sheffield’s terrible roads you just ended up continually skipping over the surface like some sort of underfunded rally driver.

    My aunt was in the market for a new small car recently and having read a few positive reviews of the Ignis, I recommended it to her so she could ignore me and buy a Vauxhall fucking Viva.

  19. I followed on of these though town yesterday, and laughed at the styling – but in a good way. It’s a cheerful looking thing and looking at the back of it lightened the mood. Same orange as this as well.

  20. Here in Australia an Ignis is a chest freezer. I reckon Suzuki has hijacked one and added wheels. Was it cold inside during the test run? (hello Canadian friends…we say “zed” too).

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