Suzuki Ignis 1.3

March 2004

picture of suzuki ignis from the front

Restyled Ignis is now a more mature-looking supermini

Ratings

Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 8Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 8Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 7Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 6Car security

Safety Rating 7Car safety


Likes

  • Affordable price tag
  • Four airbags plus ABS and EBD as standard
  • Compact dimensions make the Ignis easy to drive around town
  • Surprisingly stable at speed despite its tall stance

Gripes

  • Cabin lacks youthful ambience thanks to dark trim plastics
  • Aftermarket supplied stereo less resistant to theft than built-in unit
  • Ignis Sport variant can sound coarse at speed
  • Badge will put snobs off what is an otherwise good car

It may look like Suzuki has softened a few edges and given its Ignis a new nose, but there's more to the firm's refreshed upright supermini than meets the eye. Underneath the new car's clothes is a host of improvements, including an eager 1.3 petrol engine and a thoroughly revised fascia. Giving the Ignis concept an added twist is a Sport variant and a car packing all-wheel drive.

It might not be at the top of your shopping list when out looking for an economical, affordable supermini, but Suzuki's Ignis deserves to be at least included along with Fords, Vauxhalls and Citroens. In fact, the Ignis is a rather special car because, unlike most offerings at this price point, it comes surprisingly well equipped and is powered by decent engines.

Under the hood of the regular Ignis is a sprightly 1.3-litre petrol motor, which gives the car the edge over many of its similarly low-cost rivals in terms of power and refinement. Buyers can also choose a 1.5-litre petrol engine, although the range lacks a diesel. What Suzuki does offer that certain competitors don't is an auto gearbox option, plus a four-wheel drive variant and a racy little Sport model.

Seemingly odd-ball choices like these are typical of what Far Eastern firms do to differentiate themselves from conservative European car offerings. In Suzuki's case it means you can opt for something different, without feeling like you've sacrificed any of the usual supermini requirements along the way.

In a bid to further distance itself from the conventional competition, Suzuki's decision to offer more than just the basic safety kit should be commended. Four airbags, ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution is not what you'd expect as standard on a modest supermini. Side airbags and any form of stability aid is likely to cost - if offered at all - and makes up for any perceived lack of value offered by the badge on the Ignis' nose.

Our verdict on the Suzuki Ignis 1.3

As an alternative to the conventional offerings from Europe, the Ignis performs pretty well. Brownie points are scored for the car's lofty driving position, surprisingly spacious cabin and decent refinement levels, despite only being propelled by a modest motor - in 1.3 guise, at least.

Costs
Costs rating 8

Purchasing a new Ignis is never going to break the bank, and neither is running one. Good fuel economy, low insurance and road tax plus the generous levels of safety kit make the Ignis something of a lucky find. The only downside could be the car's residual value performance. Hardly likely to match the best in Europe, the Ignis is a keeper - not a car to sell on in 18 months.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 7

You get the usual assortment of seat back and door pockets, cubbyholes, oddment trays and bottle holders in the Ignis. On top of all that is a split/fold rear seat and front seats that can recline. Luggage carrying capacity is greatly reduced with the rear seats folded down, which is just as well, as the car's boot will struggle with a full load of shopping. That said, if used by a single person or couple, it would probably be enough for a few bags. At least the loading lip is at a sensible height and the tailgate opens nice and wide.

picture of suzuki ignis from the rear

From the rear the Ignis looks respectable, although the tailgate hides a modest boot

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

The Ignis is an uncomplicated car and as such its fascia is peppered with only a few basic controls. In a world where cars are offering buyers all manner of possibly useless gadgets, this is a refreshing change. The rotary controls for the ventilation system are commonsense personified, while the various dials housed in the driver's instrument binnacle are easy to read and tastefully illuminated at night. Only the car's aftermarket stereo fails to tow the company line, but even it is relatively easy to use.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 7

As far as compact cars go, the Ignis is a decent performer offering supportive seats and a reasonable amount of ride comfort. A small car, the Ignis can get caught out on large potholes. However, most other urban undulations are dealt with in a calm manner by the suspension. Inside, you'll only really hear the engine when accelerating hard, and other road noises rarely spoil the driving experience. Getting comfortable is made easier for the driver with the inclusion of a height adjustable seat, although back seat passengers won't want to sit behind a tall driver as the reduced amount of legroom on offer could make a long journey a chore.

Car security
Security Rating 6

Theft prevention measures are what you'd expect. Along with remote locking - which is not only a convenience feature but one that reduces the amount of time your keys are out in the open - the Ignis boasts an immobiliser. While hardly the most desirable car on the planet to steal, at least the basics are covered without the need to tick expensive options boxes.

Car safety
Safety Rating 7

From a car maker not famed for making a huge fuss about safety issues, Suzuki should be commended for the amount of safety kit in the Ignis. Away from the popular European makes, finding a car in this sector with four airbags, ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution is an achievement in itself. Even the third (middle) rear seat gets a three-point belt.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 6

Although you'll hardly be buying the Ignis for its ability to take corners at speed, the car stops, goes and steers in a reassuring manner. Its lofty stance can count against it when forced to tackle sharp turns. If you view driving as a necessary task rather than an activity to be enjoyed, you'll at least appreciate the little Suzuki's light controls and good brakes. It even challenges the perception that city cars cannot 'do' long distances, as it will happily sit at the legal maximum speed all day long. The Sport model's lower ride height and generally more enthusiastic approach is a better all-round bet if you seek more fun.

picture of suzuki ignis interior

Fit and finish in the Ignis' cabin is first rate

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 7

A little too small to be the main family car, the Ignis should nevertheless be considered as a possible runabout/school run machine to complement whatever's already parked outside the family home. Anyone on a modest budget and with very small children could get away with using an Ignis for a few years, at least until the children start to 'grow out of' the confines of the back seat.

First car appeal
First car Rating 8

If Suzuki - and potential buyers - could overcome the issues surrounding the car's badge, the Ignis would be everywhere. As a first car it's spot on. Affordable to buy and run, easy to own and drive, not too powerful and a doddle to park, the Ignis would make a great introduction to motoring. That it comes with all the right safety gear is a bonus and an attractive selling point.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 6

Suzuki is to be commended for improving the levels of perceived and actual quality of the Ignis. Outside, the mature-looking facelift and tight panel gaps help no end, while inside the impression is that of a car that should cost more than it does. Cabin plastics, while mainly dark in colour, are of a reasonable quality and the switchgear wouldn't be out of place in a European supermini. Not surprising, as certain controls will be familiar to Vauxhall owners. The Ignis doesn't fare so well in image terms. Badge snobs have largely ignored the brand, which is a shame as the firm's recent efforts to pander more to European tastes is now starting to bear fruit.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

The Ignis' slightly raised ride height is welcome in the supermini class, as this feature will no doubt attract people who struggle to slide down into a conventional car's cabin. Being a five-door hatch, access to the rear is by a fractionally smaller door and aperture. While large adults will find it a squeeze, children - likely to be the more frequent visitors to the back - will have no such problems. Despite the car's stubby, upright stance, cabin room hasn't been overly rationed. Legroom is at a premium in the rear, but there's no such shortage up front. Achieving a comfortable driving position isn't difficult either, as the right-hand seat is fitted with a height adjuster.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

For a car of this standing, the entertainment option is surprisingly generous. Ahead of some more prestigious cars that still come with cassette decks, the Ignis is offered with a radio/CD player plus a six-speaker arrangement. Few, if any, corners appear to have been cut in the process, which is more than you can say for some of the Ignis' rivals. Despite being of the aftermarket variety the stereo is a branded Blaupunkt unit. Sound quality is good and the controls are reasonably easy to operate, although there are no steering wheel-mounted buttons.

picture of suzuki ignis sport model

Racy little Ignis Sport is fun addition to the range

Colours and trim

There are no lists of different seat fabric or leather coverings to choose from with the Ignis, but the car's dark cabin is not as oppressive as it might sound. In standard 1.3 guise, the seats are well made and look hardwearing. The same is true of the plastic trim and fascia, which hides scuff marks well and looks resilient enough to counter everyday knocks. One concession to luxury is the leather-covered gearknob. On the outside, bright colours work best, matching the Ignis' jaunty-looking styling.

Parking

No complaints in this department. A combination of light but accurate power steering and the car's lofty driving position makes manoeuvring into small spaces a doddle. Just as well, as this, along with being able to carve a path for itself through dense city traffic, is exactly what the car was born to do. The Ignis' generously dimensioned mirrors help matters, as does its small turning circle - a real boon in tight car parks.

Spare wheel

Standard spare wheel is located under the boot floor.

 

Range information

Two engine options - 1.3-litre (93bhp) petrol; 1.5-litre (98bhp) petrol. Former is available with five-speed manual gearbox and comes in front-wheel drive from. Latter can be had with a manual or four-speed auto 'box. In manual trim it can be selected with Suzuki's '4GRIP' four-wheel drive system, or as a mild performance hatch badged 'Sport'.

 

Alternative cars

Ford Fusion a more costly rival, the Fusion largely does the same job as its more conventional Fiesta cousin

Vauxhall Agila lacks the extra ride height of the Ignis but is equally compact and also good value for money

Fiat Panda clever take on the urban runabout. Fiat's offering is expertly packaged and is attractively styled

CityRover MG Rover's joint venture with India's Tata lacks the equipment and 'wow factor' of the Panda, and isn't cheap



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March 2004