Although it seems only like yesterday, the motoring ‘funster’ that is the Suzuki Ignis was introduced in 2016, highlights Iain Robertson, which suggests a model life expectancy of around eight years and, therefore, an essential round of changes.
Some wag on social media the other evening posted a statement about the genuine shortage of entertaining vehicles in our new car scene. In the same post, he also proposed that the fun aspect of just going out for a drive (which, let’s face it, is difficult, when we are all confined to quarters) had all but disappeared. While I found it quite easy to recommend a shortlist of vehicles, which included the Suzuki Ignis that I shall come to in a few moments, I did find myself reflecting on just driving for the sake of it.
The biggest barrier that most of us encounter is of work intervening with our playtime. Yet, when I analyse my last few drives that I have undertaken for work purposes, I must admit that I also work especially hard on making them enjoyable. With a priority of reaching a destination in a timely and efficient manner, taking the speediest route is usually the primary choice. However, return journeys are seldom placed under the same time restrictions and my way of livening up the process is to take a more direct but often slower route.
While my car is equipped with a proficient sat-nav system that also provides ‘live’ information in respect of traffic snarl-ups and roadworks, by adjusting the guidance parameters, which can mean ticking the ‘Avoid Motorways’ box, my return journey home will be not only more interesting but can also provide some engaging diversions onto roads less travelled. As part of that process, with which I have become exceptionally familiar over the years, I also have a good manual map, on which I can spot various en-route features and attractions. Although my journey times may vary by as much as 50%, selecting alternative routes enhances the attention span, which can be too readily squandered traipsing around the nation’s often tedious motorways network.
Winding A and B roads can be tremendous fun to drive along, even without breaching the 60mph speed limit. Of course, possessing the right car, in which to indulge one’s motoring fantasies, is a different thing altogether. There is no getting away from it, a sportscar, whether a Porsche 911, or a Mazda MX-5, can be great company. Cracking open the driver’s window to hear the rise and fall of engine revs, in association with snicking through the gear ratios, whether on a manual, or automatic transmission, and extending the performance envelope, is immense fun.
My previous experience of the Suzuki Ignis resulted in a blend of cross-country and motorway mileage, driving from my Lincolnshire home to a venue in leafy Berkshire. The sheer joy of being able to ‘play’ with a Porsche in such an innocuous motorcar was rare and unparalleled. While we did stretch the limits a little, we swapped places on the roads, the Porsche driver leading sometimes, with Ignis taking the lead at other times. When I took a slip-road off the M40, Porsche-man waved cheerfully from his driver’s window. It was memorable fun, on public roads, in complete safety, with two like-minded drivers taking advantage of conditions.
That drive reinforced my regard for the Ignis. Its firm but not uncomfortable suspension allowed me to corner with agility, stability and total confidence, both important aspects of enjoying a driving experience. While the ‘Porker vs Suzuki Challenge’ lasted for only around 90 miles of a 140-miles trip, it was abundantly clear that the other chap was enjoying it equally and Suzuki’s well-padded and supportive driver’s seat proved to be a genuine boon.
In typical Suzuki form, the company seldom makes major alterations in the middle of a model’s lifespan. Instead, they tend to be minor technology changes, trim upgrades and detail improvements, after all, when the car is already well-sorted, there is no reason to do much more. Just as Jeep has its seven-bar grille, Suzuki rather cheekily apes it with a five-bar alternative, better suited to a significantly smaller car, and the revised radiator grille and more aerodynamic front bumper styling, with alloy-look ‘skid guards’ (both at the front and rear), does not detract from Ignis’s funky façade.
Its lighting signature is both stylish and friendly, affording the dimensionally restricted tiddler the perception of a wider snout, as the lamp units wrap around the front corners of the car. The application of silky black highlights, like the window-surrounds and grille slots, as well as the slivers of wheel-arch protection, that are complimented by glossy black alloy wheels, bolster the car’s charisma.
There is a choice of eleven single body colours that include a new yellow metallic, creamy beige and pearly white, supplemented by seven two-tone options for the bodywork. However, the hinted gills in the rear quarters and the clamshell bonnet are retained as known and loved design elements. Within the car’s surprisingly ‘Tardis-like’ cabin, a psychological lift is provided with its bold black and white dashboard and grey, or blue, seat facings. There is plenty of space for a 6 feet 6 inches tall driver, thanks to a decent range of both driver’s seat and steering column rake adjustability.
Recently uprated for the Swift model, the 1.2-litre, normally aspirated, four-cylinder petrol engine features a more efficient fuel injection system, supported by electric piston cooling jets, variable valve timing and a new oil pump. Mild hybrid technology is now standard across the range, except for Ignises equipped with the automated, single-clutch transmission (something to do with the integrated starter-generator and stop:start facility, although a constantly-variable transmission that will feature hybrid tech replaces it from July), the former SHVS 3Ah system has been uprated to 10Ah to provide a torque boost and greater fuel economy. In top SZ5 trim, Ignis includes all-wheel drive.
Conclusion: Suzuki has a firm handle on funkiness with its compact crossover Ignis. The fact that it is exceptionally well engineered and such a total joy to drive is much to its credit as a true exponent of automotive fun.