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Suzuki Ignis Review

8 / 10
2 July 2024
Suzuki Ignis review front three quarter

Don’t judge the Suzuki Ignis by its cover. It’d be easy to dismiss it as just another tiny city car that’ll fall over the second you ask it to carry more than two people.

This little car is much cleverer than that, however. Thanks to some cabin wizardry – and possibly some actual wizardry – there’s an astonishing amount of space inside.

What we like:
  • Remarkable practicality for its size
  • Simple, robust cabin
  • Affordable
What we don't like:
  • Some cheap materials in the cabin
  • Suspension is a little firm
  • Poor infotainment on earlier models

Should I buy a Suzuki Ignis?

Small cars make sense in the city. Compact dimensions make it easy to slip through gaps in traffic and squeeze into tight parking spaces. Plus, most come outfitted with featherweight petrol engines so your running costs are low.

The inevitable downside, however, is a penalty to practicality. Being small usually means you have next-to-no rear-seat space, and a boot that can handle a handbag but not much else.

So, measuring exactly 3.7 metres long – about the same as a Hyundai i10 – you’d expect the Suzuki Ignis to suffer the same issue. Surely this tiny SUV-styled hatchback majors on urban agility but falls flat once you ask a few friends to join you?

As you’ve probably gathered by now, no – the Ignis pulls off an inexplicable magic trick by having both tiny exterior dimensions and an astounding amount of cabin space. That means you can confidently tackle the concrete jungle without stressing about whether you’ll be able to fit passengers or cargo once you’re there.

This isn’t a one-trick pack mule either, with a surprisingly fun driving experience and Suzuki’s fizzy mild-hybrid engines keeping fuel costs down. Other costs are well restrained, too, with affordable prices on the used market, plus low insurance groupings and road tax costs.

You can spot the compromises that’ve been made to get all that flexibility at that price. The cabin isn’t exactly premium feeling, the ride quality isn’t the best in class, and earlier models had somewhat duff infotainment systems. Keep reading to find out if the Ignis is good enough to help you forget about those drawbacks.

Interior and technology

Suzuki Ignis review interior

You’re not going to mistake the Ignis for a premium model. There are plenty of hard plastics across many surfaces – something you’ll find less of in cars like the Nissan Micra. You do, however, get the sense that the cabin trim is, at least, hard-wearing and should stand up to the rigours of daily life, and can be wiped clean if stained.

That said, Suzuki has added a few welcoming touches here and there. Some models feature flashes of the exterior colour on cabin plastics, such as those lining the centre console and peeking out inside the air vents. The dashboard layout also feels quite upright – a little like the off-roaders the Ignis’s styling is imitating.

We also quite like the small ‘pod’ of physical climate controls in the middle of the dashboard. They’re easy to use without taking your eyes off the road, with big up/down switches for temperature and fan speed, plus piano-style keys for other adjustments. Below them, you find a pair of circular flaps that reveal 12V and USB charging options.

One thing to pay attention to is the touchscreen infotainment system which, like most rivals, sits in a little pod on top of the dashboard. Earlier Ignis models used a generic screen from a third-party supplier. This works and includes all the features you’d expect but the screen layout is ugly and menu navigation is tricky.

Ignis models from roughly 2018 onwards – make sure to check your specific vehicle, however – use a Suzuki-developed system with built-in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is a substantial improvement on the older system, with a much clearer layout and a simple home screen split into quarters according to function.


Suzuki Ignis review boot space

This is the Ignis’s ace card. No other car in this class gets anywhere near the level of practicality achieved by the little Suzuki. We might flippantly call it ‘magic’ but, in reality, Suzuki has made some sensible design decisions to conjure such a large cabin from such a small car.

Firstly, the bonnet is short and stubby, with the front passengers pushed as close as possible to the front of the car. Then, Suzuki has done away with the mostly pointless fifth centre-rear seat and set up the rear bench for just two passengers, which means both have enough elbow room despite the car’s narrow width.

Not only that, but Suzuki’s also fitted the rear bench on rails like the front seats. This gives you the option to slide the seats all the way back for more rear legroom, or push them forwards to give you much more boot space. Position the bench for maximum passenger space and you’ll find even six footers can sit relatively comfortably in the rear seats – again, something that’s basically impossible in rivals like the Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1.

An unsung hero here is the Ignis’s boxy body. This feature means there’s lots of headroom for taller adults in the cabin, and also means you can more easily load awkwardly shaped items into the boot. The 267-litre cargo space is large enough for a big weekly shop with the rear seats all the way back, and can just about handle a big suitcase or a smallish dog if you slide the rear bench forwards. We’d avoid four-wheel-drive AllGrip models unless you specifically need that feature, because the extra mechanical parts eat into the car’s underfloor storage.

Engines and performance

Suzuki Ignis review side

There’s just one engine available for the Ignis – a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol – but it comes in a handful of different flavours.

Earlier Ignis models used the 1.2-litre engine paired with either a five-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed robotised automatic dubbed ‘AGS’. In our experience, this style of automatic isn’t very smooth, so we’d recommend the manual for most buyers. The shifter has an easy action and the lightweight clutch is simple to modulate.

Partway through 2020, the Ignis was updated, gaining a mild-hybrid system for the 1.2-litre petrol. Unlike full hybrids and plug-in hybrids, this setup can’t drive on electric power alone and is really just there to improve fuel economy. On the road, you won’t really notice any difference between this and the older engine. The update also saw the AGS auto swapped out for a smoother CVT-style unit, which is a much better choice if you don’t want a manual.

You get between 80 and 90hp depending on the specific model you select, so the Ignis isn’t going to impress anyone with its performance. Urban speeds don’t present a challenge and the engine’s responsive enough to be relied upon in traffic, but you’ll need a lead-lined right foot to achieve any kind of fast acceleration.

The company’s AllGrip four-wheel-drive system is optionally available, too. That’s rare in this segment so, if you do lots of off-road driving, you might appreciate the option. For most buyers, however, it’s not worth the extra cost or the small fuel economy penalty when a simple set of winter tyres is a much more affordable way to ensure all-weather performance.

Driving and comfort

Suzuki Ignis review rear three quarter

You’ll spot styling details on the Ignis that mirror off-roaders – the tall ride height, the boxy body and optional four-wheel drive all being giveaways. As a result, you might be expecting a roly-poly, top-heavy driving experience.

Get behind the wheel, however, and you’ll find the Ignis feels well set up for on-road driving. The controls are accurate and easy to use, the tall ride height means good all-round visibility, and the suspension keeps the body firmly in check over bumps and uneven surfaces.

In fact, for all the good work the suspension does, its stiffness means the Ignis isn’t the most comfortable car in this class – lacking the grace of a Hyundai i10 or Volkswagen Up. It’s not so firm that you’d call it uncomfortable, but bigger bumps are felt immediately in the cabin and there’s no sense of ‘float’ over jittery surfaces.

The ride is a worthy tradeoff, however, because the Ignis is more entertaining than you might expect on an open road. Between the easy handling, the visibility and the well-behaved body, you end up with a car that’s keen to turn into corners and predictable at higher speeds. Obviously, the acceleration isn’t going to impress, but it’s still satisfying to run through each gear, and the engine is quick-witted enough that you don’t have to second-guess it in urban driving.

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