Suzuki replaced its popular Swift model with the impressive Ignis. By doing so it took on established models from makers Ford, Daewoo and Holden – and quite often out performed them.
The Ignis joined a long list of similar sized hatchbacks which had a small wagon type of body. From the front it has a European style about it, while the rear features the wagon-type rear hatch. The 5-door version comes with roof rails, though those are not always the best addition since they often go unused while having a drastic effect on fuel consumption.
The Ignis has something of a mixed history. It was the product of a joint venture between General Motors and Suzuki, and the version sold in Australia is the lengthened version adopted by the Suzuki’s European arm. The GM version if the Ignis was badged as the Chevrolet Cruze and the Australian version was rebadged as the Holden Cruze, though the latter wasn’t much of a success and was later dropped.
Though its name means ‘fire’ and ‘light’ in Latin, Ignis is not built to break speed records, and at first glance you would be forgiven for thinking the design could use a bit more inspiration. However, Suzuki makes solid cars designed and built to do a job well and do it affordably, the Ignis is inexpensive to buy and run, and it is the perfect car for its intended target audience of young professionals.
The Ignis sports an all-alloy 1.3 litre, DOHC, 16 valve engine that is fairly quiet and has decent fuel consumption. You will find the 60kW/106Nm 1.3 litre engine works well in cities and has decent performance, though it can struggle at high speeds on the open roads where it also becomes noisier.
The engine will produce 60kW at 6000 rpm, a torque rating of 106Nm at 4500 rpm and can reach 100km/h in 14.8 seconds. By many standards that’s a fairly sluggish performance considering the size and weight of the vehicle, but for those buyers for whom power ratio is not an issue, the car has enough power to do the job. Suzuki also offered a 83kW/143Nm 1.5-litre DOHC 16V four-cylinder engine intended as a ‘Sports’ version with sport seats, more equipment and a firmer suspension to help it cope on tight corners. Aimed at those that wanted more power, this car didn’t sell as well as Suzuki had hoped. Possibly the best choice for buyers is the manual transmission, since the automatic can struggle at higher speeds.
Despite its slow acceleration, the Ignis is incredibly frugal – it only needs 7 to 8L/100km, which makes up tremendously for for the lack of power.
The Ignis is only available as a hatchback in two variants: the three-door GA or five-door GL. Both versions have a choice of manual or automatic transmission.
Air con was also an (expensive) option, but Suzuki has a history of packing its Australian models with a high level of standard kit. For the Ignis this includes power steering, a CD player, split reclining rear seats, tinted glass, and airbags. It also came with an engine immobiliser and seat belt pretensioners fitted too.
The Ignis' compact size does not mean it is short on space. The interior is well-designed and constructed with lots of clever storage nooks. The rear seats fold down easily to create extra luggage space when needed. Space in the front for the driver and passenger is adequate for a vehicle of this size, though taller people may find the rear seat area a bit small.
The Ignis works great as a ‘city’ car because of its high seating position, good all round vision, and easy parking capabilities. The Ignis sold well because it was not only cheap to buy but also cheap to run, and it proved incredibly popular in Australia as a delivery vehicle.
The Suzuki Ignis is a well-made car which compares well with its competitors, though many of them have more extras. Early versions of the GA version are fairly spartan by today’s standards, but Suzuki quickly realised it needed to add more to their spec levels and their GL variant was well-equipped from day one. The Suzuki Ignis is also cheaper than many of its competitors such as the Honda Jazz and the Ford Fiesta but buyers are probably aware they are making compromises.