1 Oct 2000
At the October ’99 Tokyo motor show, cash-strapped Suzuki displayed a stylish and modern Holden-designed and produced concept that was to finally become the long-overdue replacement for the 12-year- old Swift/Cino light car a year later – as well as a staple General Motors model worldwide (including the misguided Holden Cruze) and even a Subaru and Mazda! In many ways the front-wheel drive Ignis is an excellent city car, with a spacious and airy interior with the bonus of a high seating position and excellent vision, an eager and easy to use drivetrain (courtesy of a frugal yet feisty 60kW/106Nm 1.3-litre DOHC 16V four-cylinder engine engaged to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic gearbox) and light to handle and easy to park driving experience.
Equipment levels started off a little spartan in the base GA but by mid-’03 dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, air-conditioning, keyless entry, a CD player and power windows were standard on the volume-selling GL.
But no Ignis is sporty or fun to drive. It suffers from a slightly tinny and cheap ambience and – despite the tallish SUV-suggesting body – doesn’t realise its versatility potential despite the standard three and five-door hatchback configuration, with limited rear-seat folding permutations and not a lot of rear legroom.
And in the age of the (albeit slightly more expensive) Honda Jazz, Mazda2, Ford Fiesta and Mitsubishi Colt, the Ignis’ shortcomings don’t have to be tolerated anymore in the light car category.
The Ignis Sport from August ’03 – with its 83kW/143Nm 1.5-litre DOHC 16V four-cylinder engine, sports seats, firmer suspension and extra equipment – fails to ignite any fire or passion.
Suzuki has been listening though and the 2005 Ignis-replacing Swift represents huge strides in all areas.
The Road to Recovery podcast series
12th of August 2003
First drive: Swift action for Ignis Sport
Suzuki launches the Ignis Sport – spiritual successor to the Swift GTi
When it was new