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In-depth reviews

Suzuki Ignis review - Engines, performance and drive

Keep the Ignis in town and it’s nippy and agile, but it starts to struggle on the open road

The Suzuki Ignis pretends to be a shrunken SUV, but it’s actually one of the lightest cars you can buy in Britain. The platform underneath is shared with the larger Baleno, which is hardly portly as it is, yet the smaller size means the Ignis has a tiny kerbweight. Base models weigh in at just 810kg, which is lighter than a two-seat Smart ForTwo.

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The Ignis feels agile and nimble as a result of that low weight and short wheelbase, meaning it's certainly a world away from most heavy crossovers. It’s a delight to drive around town, with the small size, upright driving position and excellent visibility making it perfect for threading through tight gaps.

However, it lacks the sophistication of rivals once you head out onto the open road, with slow and vague steering reducing the fun factor when speeds increase. Body roll is noticeable despite an initially keen feel, while a number of conventional city cars tackle bends with more composure.

Suzuki Ignis 2WD 2017 review

The ride is also a bugbear. The Ignis is softly sprung, taking the edge off speed humps, but it gets caught out easily by sharp bumps, which thud and crash through the cabin. Road noise is quite pronounced, too, while noticeable wind and engine noise mean it isn’t the best city car for long journeys. Interestingly, the lighter non-hybrid models are a touch smoother in terms of ride quality. 

Engines

Your engine choice is limited if you want an Ignis. To keep costs down, Suzuki offers just an 89bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder ‘Dualjet’ petrol engine, with the option of an innovative 48v mild hybrid system for economy-minded buyers. 

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The standard 1.2 is hardly inefficient, thanks to the low weight it has to pull along. Around town there’s plenty of poke to get you about, with a slick gearshift letting you keep it on the boil. 120Nm of torque isn’t an awful lot, however, so on motorways and up hills you’ll need to rev it hard just to keep up with traffic. It’s noisy when you do so, too.

Suzuki claims a 0-62mph time that’s around two seconds faster for the SHVS hybrid model. The Ignis’s 48-volt system uses a simple belt-driven ‘Integrated Starter Generator’ (which also acts as a starter motor) providing electrical assistance during acceleration. A small battery pack stores the energy from the regenerative brakes. It’s a set-up that’s cheaper, lighter and simpler than a full hybrid, doing without the heavy batteries and electric motor.

The Ignis SHVS is a bit punchier from the get-go, but when the assistance tails off you’re left with the same need for revs. It’s not enough of a boost for us to recommend it over the standard car, particularly as you have to opt for the top-spec SZ5 trim to have it.

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