WITH a long history of building affordable small cars and baby SUV’s, Japanese car maker Suzuki appears to have come up with another easy-to-drive winner in the re-birthing of the Ignis name plate, with the 2017 Suzuki Ignis GL and GLX offering a unique look and feel in a light car or light SUV body.
Which category it falls into depends on whether you believe Suzuki’s marketing strategy, but for us, it’s a light car that looks genuinely unique and funky, since there really isn’t a light SUV market segment.
The GL version is best described as basic, black and white interior and all, with the GLX bringing with it a bunch of frills and little add-ons, but whether you choose the base model or the upmarket version, the cute little SUV has a lot going for it. It’s zippy, fun to drive and easy to handle, even on the open road.
Both test vehicles were loaded with the auto CVT box, with the GL also available in a manual. We couldn’t help but feel that the manual might be a little more punchy in the way that most small 1.2L cars with manual transmission are, but the CVT is smooth, despite feeling somewhat odd without the defined gear changes a normal auto would bring.
The GL and GLX are both powered by the same 1.2L DualJet 4-cylinder VVT engine, producing 66kW of power and 120Nm of torque. Only available in front-wheel-drive, the Suzuki Ignis is the re-imagining of the original Ignis, a subcompact light car or a baby SUV, depending on its model, which sold between 2000 and 2008 – and briefly doubled as the Holden Cruze.
We even went so far as to put a former ‘original’ Ignis owner behind the wheel of the GLX, for a direct comparison over the old, equally confused about its identity, model. She told us it was bigger inside than the previous version, definitely less boxy, easier to drive, and she felt, more economical.
With that in mind, Suzuki claims 4.7L/100km in the GL manual and 4.9L/100km in the GL and GLX automatic, but we couldn’t manage it in either automatic version. The best we could get in the GL was 6.4L/100km around town, while in the GLX we managed a 5.5L/100km – still an impressive figure, but there was a good chunk of open road driving to achieve that.
The Ignis has an uptown funk feel about it. It’s a weird looking small car best suited to the inner city on first impressions, because it has that run around, easy drive easy park persona. You could see it squeezed into a nothing spot in a narrow Melbourne lane way, or a one way back alley in Sydney.
But it’s more than that, because it also performs admirably on highways too, and it’s packed with functionality. The reversing camera makes parking a breeze and its light on steering so gym time is not a requirement to drive it or park it.
Standard fare like cruise control is pretty basic but does the job well, while the GL comes with manual air conditioning controls, while the GLX gets digital air conditioning and climate control. The GLX also gets lots of chrome surrounds, pretty much everywhere, and funky 16-inch alloy wheels.
Inside the GL, you’ll find reasonably comfortable cloth seats, but there’s a definite lack of leg room in the rear seats. You will also find yourself quite upright with a weird seating position thing happening, and the plastic arm rests and window sills will do some serious damage to your elbows if you lean when you drive.
You’ll find SatNav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard in both variants, and the sound system is very good, easy to use and simple to get your head around. It’s the most technology you will have to deal with in this little car and the model difference gives you two extra speakers in the GLX upgrade.
The only real downside to the upgraded GLX version is the loss of a seat. The GL seats five and has a 60:40 split fold rear seat, but because of the alterations in styling in the GLX, which has a 50:50 split fold rear seat, the improved version seats just four.
The GLX also gains key less entry and start and automatic LED headlights. You can customise your Ignis experience too, with an abundance of colour-keyed accents including the door handles and centre console.
Both variants come in a range of colours that includes Pure White Pearl/White Roof, Pure White Pearl/Black Roof, Fervent Red/Black Roof, Flame Orange (our GLX test vehicle), Mineral Grey and Neon Blue (our GL test vehicle).
Overall it feels like a well put together car. For fans of Suzuki’s reputation for no nonsense, affordable, motoring – you won’t be disappointed. The irony is this could give Suzuki’s own Swift a run for its money for cool factor and popularity.
It’s a groovy yet simple car for people who want to get from A to B with no fuss and bother, and as someone pointed out to us, the fewer extra bits and pieces in it will mean there is fewer things to go wrong. On the whole we think this is a great little city car and would certainly be on the short list to test drive as a first car as well.
With a super small but cheap to fill 32L fuel tank, the 2017 Suzuki Ignis hits the road at $16,990 for the GL manual or $18,490 for the auto. You’ll need to spend $20,490 for a GLX in anything other than spanky Pure White Pearl with a white roof. Prices are drive-away.
Our 2017 Suzuki Ignis GL and GLX were supplied by Suzuki Australia. To find out more about the Ignis, contact your local Suzuki dealer.
Road Test: 2017 Suzuki Ignis GL and GLX
Pros – colour-keyed accents everywhere; cool and groovy; fun to drive.
Cons – not everyone will love the CVT; front seats are odd at best; revs like a mad woman.