Suzuki Ignis ALLGRIP

What is it?

It’s a crossover-styled city car, that’s packed with goodies, for not a lot of money - and it’s a Suzuki, and what Suzuki doesn’t know about creating small cars and 4x4s frankly isn’t worth knowing anyway. 

On the road

As soon as it arrived at Muddy Towers it was put straight into action for an hours motorway trek to Wales where its 1.2ltr, 90bhp engine easily kept up with third lane cruisers.

Being honest, because of its compactness I wasn't certain what to expect on our maiden voyage, would it be cramped, would it be noisy and pitchy?  Well no, it was none of the aforementioned, in fact it was very impressive the way it handled most roads.

The real fun began once we got on the twisty Welsh B roads, it held onto the road like a limpet.  There were times when I wanted a little bit more oomph, but I had to keep reminding myself it isn't that type of car.  With base models weighing in at just 810kg, the Ignis is actually one of the lightest cars you can buy in the UK, but don’t let that put you off, it’s incredibly good fun to drive.  

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With an upright driving position and excellent visibility, the Ignis makes an excellent choice for tootling around town, and its diminutive size means that you can park it pretty much anywhere you want.  I had fun hunting small parking spots on my street, and slotting the Ignis in, just for the fun of it!

What I did notice, whilst driving along country lanes, was that there’s a fair bit of noise from stones that are flung up inside the arches, although general wind noise is well muted.

Off road

Obviously, the Ignis isn’t an off-roader, its low approach angle sees to that, so you need to be careful when venturing off the beaten track. However, our first foray was quite an easy lane, one that I had been planning on exploring for a while. I knew it was easy, because the Google Streetmap car had driven its entire length, so it wasn't going to be much of a challenge.  What it did highlight was that the front bib is quite low as it kept scraping on the grass in between the ruts.

The ALLGRIP Ignis doesn't have the All Wheel Drive set up as its bigger siblings, instead it shares the permanent 4Wheel Drive with the Swift, and, like most SUV's these days, it switches from front wheel drive to four wheel drive when its brain senses a loss of traction.

Getting technical, the Ignis's ALLGRIP ‘AUTO’ system includes Hill Descent Control and Grip Control.  Grip Control activates on slippery surfaces at speeds of less than 18mph, and once switched on by the driver, it focuses torque on the driven wheels that have grip and will quickly apply braking to the wheel that is spinning. 

Again, once switched on by the driver, the Hill Descent Control works when the vehicle is travelling on an incline at under approximately 15mph in first or second gear.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find and really steep muddy sections to try it on, but it worked well on mild inclines.

Of course I had to test it on my usual lane and see how it coped balancing on its 2 opposing wheels.  The result, well, it was like a walk in the park.  

Interior

As someone who's 6ft 1" and nearly 19 stone, you would think that I'd have difficulty getting into the Ignis, after all, it is rather small.  You would be quite wrong of course, there's plenty space up front to make me feel comfortable and happy, and with the drivers seat moved quite a way back for my long legs, I could even make myself comfortable on the backs seats too.

Everything inside the Ignis is nicely designed, and well laid out, with plenty of cubby space, and best of all, there's 2 USB sockets in easy reach, more premium motor manufactures - ahem Volvo, please take note.

Ok, it has a plastic dash and other bits of trim feel a tad cheap, but remember before you start ticking the options list, you’re paying between just £10, 499 and £13,499.

Creature comforts

There are three trims in the range: SZ3, SZ-T and SZ5 and all are well equipped with LED headlights, climate control and DAB radio as standard.  The SZ-T adds Bluetooth, sat-nav and emergency braking, while the SZ5 features keyless entry and a starting and a reversing camera.  ALLGRIP 4-wheel drive, in case you were wondering, is only available in the SZ5 version.

Thanks to the use of small and lightweight components the Ignis ALLGRIP is just 50kg heavier than its equivalent 2WD model, and emissions are only 9g/km higher at 106g/km.  Due to the location of the rear differential for the 4WD system, the luggage capacity is 204 litres versus 260 litres for the 2WD model, though you’ll hardly notice.

Engines & transmissions

There are two engine choices are available in the UK, either the standard 1.2 petrol or the mild hybrid 1.2 SHVS that uses a battery to store energy to help and improve economy and emissions. All models come with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, though the standard 1.2 can be had with a five-speed auto.

Standard petrol

  •    2WD Manual - 90bhp - 61.4mpg combined - 106mph - 0-60mph in 10.9 seconds C02 = 104 g/km

•    2WD Automatic -90bhp - 61.4mpg combined - 106mph - 0-60mph in 10.9 seconds C02 = 104 g/km

SHVS

•    2WD Manual - 90bhp - 65.7mpg combined - 106mph - 0-60mph in 11.4 seconds C02 = 97 g/km

•    4WD Manual - 90bhp - 60.1mpg combined - 103mph - 0-60mph in 11.1 seconds C02 = 106 g/km

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Conclusion

There are few manufacturers that I have a affinity towards, and Suzuki is on that very short list, they always seem to build very good, yet affordable cars, packed with safety features that are often only optional extras on more expensive brands.

During the week it proved itself to be a nimble and frugal car, it could handle a bit of off-roading and was surprisingly sticky when thrown around corners, but lets not forget that I had the ALLGRIP model.

To be fair, its bold styling may not be to everyone's taste, but I like it because it dares to be different.  Funnily enough, I was on a new car launch the other week, and during the evening a few of us got chatting about various press cars, as we do, and the general consensus was that we all had a soft spot for Suzukis. 

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Coincidentally, the Northern Group of Motoring Writers, which I happen to be a member of, have recently awarded the Suzuki Ignis 2017 Northern Car of the Year.  It’s the second time in four years that Suzuki has received the award, having also won with the outgoing model Swift Sport in 2014, so high praise indeed!

The Northern Group of Motoring Writers awarding Suzuki 2017 Northern Car of the Year.