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Driven: Suzuki lights up Ignis

Ignition: Suzuki’s next instalment in its burgeoning small SUV and passenger line-up is a cheeky addition with lots of customisation options.

Baby SUV Ignis joins Suzuki range with big features from $16,990 driveway


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17 Jan 2017

SUZUKI’S Ignis compact crossover has been reborn in Australia after a 12-year hiatus, arriving packed with tech features, Japanese retro styling and a razor-sharp driveaway price of $16,990 for the entry-level GL manual.

Two model grades are on offer with the base GL fitted standard with a five-speed manual – priced from $15,990 before on-road costs – or with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for an extra $1000, while the top-spec GLX is an auto-only proposition for $18,990 plus on-roads, or $19,990 driveaway.

The compelling pricing sees the Ignis wade into the curio compact crossover market with confidence, and gives the miniature model a fighting chance against the hard-to-define market alongside the current big hitters, which command a larger outlay.

For now, Mazda’s CX-3 is the clear favourite in the sub-$40,000 compact SUV arena but it manages that title with a starting price equal to the top-of-the-range Ignis before on-road costs and blows out to $31,290 for the best-equipped front-wheel-drive equivalent.

Other notable rivals include the $23,490 Nissan Juke which managed 2382 sales to its name in 2016 compared with the CX-3’s monumental 18,334 tally. Holden’s $23,990 Trax found 7976 Australian homes last year.

Suzuki says its newest model is capable of attracting 400 sales per month, which translates to an annual figure of 4800 registrations and a fair performance for any vehicle entering the bullish segment.

On Australian soil, the Japanese car-maker has aspirations to be the local authority on small SUVs and has already taken significant steps to achieving that goal with the larger Vitara, which gained notable attention in 2016 with 5713 sales.

If the new Ignis earns its keep, the company will be closing in on its target of 30,000 annual sales. Last year it rounded out 12 months with 19,495 new registrations, up 2.1 per cent on the previous year.

Speaking at the launch of the Ignis in Melbourne this week, Suzuki Australia general manager Andrew Moore told GoAuto the target of 30,000 was now “a lot more achievable” with the all-new compact crossover in its ranks, but the figure was not a do-or-die target.

“If we end up with 29,000 we’re not going to put on dealer demos,” he said.

Mr Moore explained that the reception of the Ignis was difficult to predict as the company had not played in the segment for many years. However, despite the uncertainty, he said the little arrival has the potential to outsell Suzuki’s most popular SUV.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Ignis maybe moves ahead of Vitara because Vitara has come down a bit because of stock, so we have to build it back up a bit,” he said.

Ultimately, Mr Moore said the company was confident the Ignis would be a strong performer, driven by its value proposition, unique looks and flexible customisation options that should appeal to both returning customers as well as owners new to the brand.

Both GL and GLX variants of the Ignis are powered by a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre Dualjet four-cylinder petrol engine that develops 66kW and 120Nm of torque – small numbers that Suzuki nonetheless maintains translates to respectable performance, thanks to a bantam kerb weight of just 865kg (CVT), the same as a Lotus Elise. The manual tips the scales at 820kg.

Power is sent to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox (on GL only) or via the CVT (on both GL and GLX), which has simulated gear steps.

On the official combined cycle, the Ignis will return fuel economy of 4.7 litres per 100km when fitted with the manual and emit 107 grams per kilometre of CO2. These figures rise to 4.9L/100km and 114g/km respectively for the CVT versions.

Despite diminutive exterior dimensions of 3700mm length, 1660mm width and 1595mm height, the Ignis is a five-seater with a 271-litre boot. That figure can be expanded to 1100 litres with the second row of seats folded.

With a short 2435mm wheelbase and city-friendly steering lock, the Ignis has a turning circle of just 4.7 metres.

In the case of the GL, the rear seat folds in a 60:40 fashion but GLX variants have a 50:50 arrangement as well as a sliding function to maximise rear passenger legroom or boot capacity depending on the circumstances.

All versions roll on MacPherson strut front suspension and disc brakes, with a torsion beam set-up and drum brakes at the rear. The GL has 15-inch steel rims with hubcaps and 175/65-section tyres, while the GLX upgrades to 16-inch alloys with 175/60 rubber. A space-saver spare is standard range-wide.

Customers splashing the extra cash for the GLX will get darkness-sensing, self-levelling LED headlights with the model-defining horseshoe LED daytime running lights, along with privacy rear window glass. The GL has halogen lights.

Like its Vitara big sister, Suzuki says a large dose of the Ignis’ appeal will come from its low-cost range of customisation options that are more extensive than the Vitara.

On the outside, the range of five colours can be paired with five different mirror cap colours along with orange, white and blue trims that can be applied to the foglights, grille, headlight surrounds and alloy wheels.

The same colour theme can be added to the interior centre console and doorhandles, or a completely different colour to the exterior theme can be selected. All custom components are dealer-stocked parts so vehicles do not have to be ordered with a particular scheme and customers can makeover their Ignis at a later date for a new look.

Certain exterior colours can be optioned with a black roof to match the gloss-black window surrounds and dark metallic alloy wheels.

Suzuki is also planning to appeal to a younger audience with a broad range of user technology including a 7.0-inch central touchscreen for accessing standard navigation, reverse camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

GLX versions have a snazzier climate control panel and switchgear in place of the standard GL air-conditioning buttons, while keyless engine start is also a GLX-only feature.

Safety is as comprehensive as the rest of the Ignis standard equipment with six airbags including curtain bags for all passengers and thorax bags for the front row, while electronic safety systems add ABS, EBD and hill-hold assist.

2017 Suzuki Ignis pricing*
GL (a)$16,990
GLX (a)$18,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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