Driven - May 2017

We drive the new Suzuki Ignis

On launch with the new Suzuki Ignis

I would have loved to have been in the room when the briefing on the new Suzuki Ignis was created. It would have been quite the meeting when the car designs came in. It would have been a shock, but a good one, I thought as I sat on a flight from Jozi Town to the beautiful, but waterless Cape Town for the local media launch of Suzuki’s latest vehicle!

We arrived in a semi-wet Cape Town in the evening and then made our way to a studio which could only be described as a “watch this space” moment for SA television where the Ignis launch happened. Besides the culling of a few local beers from the waiter, the night ran without glitch and when the Ignis was revealed halfway through a light supper, we were greeted by a design that is nothing short of amazing and youthful, backed by one of my favorite tunes, “Hey Hey” by Dennis Ferrer danced to by some “Panstula dancers”.

So, what do you get with this new offering from our Japanese friends? For a price of R169 000 of your hard earned Madiba’s, you get a Crossover hatchback with the 1.2-litre four-pot, an engine from the Suzuki Swift, with a power output of 61 kW and 113 N.m and yes, this won’t get you a new quarter mile record, but will keep up with traffic surprisingly well, and that is aided by having a kerb weight of just 850 kilograms. This translated into some good fuel numbers too, but to be honest, pointed into some curvy roads in the Cape, that went out of the window as we wanted to see what this little offering from Suzuki could do. This little car has a design that is robust and harks back to Suzuki’s from yesteryear.

In the Cape air, the little Suzuki Ignis immediately blazed its way from the beautiful accommodation in Tableview towards wine county. From a convenience perspective, you immediately feel at home as all you need is your phone cable and the vehicle comes alive as you have connection with ease. Being six foot and still carrying weight from December, space is not an issue but I did fail the “sit behind you test” thanks to my awkward torso to leg ratio. The model that we had was the GLX version which is the top of range model. The motor is the same but the changes are the spec level and for the extra amount of R20 000, you get among other things, LED headlights, as well as daytime running lights, folding electric mirrors, auto aircon, you get the drift. For an entry level vehicle, the Ignis is very well specced and you find yourself lacking for very little. Chasing the Suzuki Ignis through some very windy roads, highlighted that you will not be getting a dull drive. Most cars in this segment suffer from a surprising amount of understeer dialed into the chassis for safety reasons but we found this little car to be very flat though the corners and would welcome more power to explore the chassis a bit more.

There is an auto variant of the Ignis which Suzuki does stress is not a conventional Auto with a torque convertor but rather, a manual clutch system that has it clutch operated by robotics. All I could hear here was BMW’s SMG gearbox that had you nodding all over town and almost crashing while trying to parallel park. Hopefully, this will not be the case with the Suzuki Ignis and we will get to sample this gearbox in due course. We ended up at a wine farm which was a lunch and wine tasting (read responsible) were at the backdrop of one if the oldest family run wine farms in South Africa, the Ignis was right at home. We left the venue running slightly behind schedule heading direction airport and this spirited drive through some glorious roads proved that this will be a loved little car that will be fun to drive on a daily basis.

Knowing the South African market, Suzuki needs to market this little car well as if people get to experience it, they will sell loads of these. Being a car community that is very brand conscious who tends to favour the hijack favorite Polo Vivo, people need to look at other makes and realise that there is life, and awesome cars outside Germany and this little Ignis proves that. You get Japanese reliability, cheeky and quirky design and the 2017 European World Urban Car of the year and you have a recipe for success. Open your eyes SA, you have and awesome little car right under your noses. Test-drive one and see what we are talking about!