On test: Suzuki Ignis 1.3 review (2003 onwards model) – MSN Cars UK

19 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on On test: Suzuki Ignis 1.3 review (2003 onwards model) – MSN Cars UK

On test: Suzuki Ignis 1.3 review (2003 onwards model)

Bodystyle:5dr hatchback

Engine:1.3-litre in-line 4-cylinder

Fuel type:Petrol

Transmission:5-speed manual

Date of test:November 2003

It’s the Suzuki Streetwise. The Japanese maker arguably beat MG Rover by a handful of years to the ‘4×4-look supermini’ vehicle. Unfortunately, although it was tall and chunky, the previous Ignis lacked any sort of distinction to help it stand out in the crowd. This extensively-revised vehicle, though still related to the older car, is a far more desirable proposition.

The range is simple – and, unusually, includes both four-wheel-drive and three-door sports versions – while generous kit levels and a sprightly engine as standard should give it ample showroom kudos.

Where does it fit?

The Ignis is incredibly cheap, yet is a full-sized rival for the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 206. Arguably, its mini off-roader looks make it a natural rival for the Ford Fusion and Rover Streetwise. But in this price range, cars usually sell on price, so name a five-door supermini at the cheaper end of the market, and it’s likely the Ignis will see it as competition.

Fiat Punto, Honda Jazz, Toyota Yaris – you get the idea!

Is it for you?

Our Ignis certainly turned a surprising number of heads, suggesting it’s distinct enough to stand out from the crowd. It certainly stands taller than many of them, and inside this sensation is accentuated by high-set seats. It’s very much like a 4×4, and the commanding driving position helps instil confidence.

And, not to be overlooked, the lofty stance makes it uncommonly east to get into and out of – an important point for those with restricted mobility. Rear cabin space is ample too; the five doors aren’t there for show. And off-roady features such as chunky wheeltrims and roof rails will impress friends underwhelmed by more mainstream models.

What does it do well?

The high seats and deep side windows provide great visibility that’s useful both in town and on the motorway. And, when they’re not looking out, passengers will appreciate the far neater and higher-quality dash, which really is pretty smart-looking. The Blaupunkt stereo is neatly integrated, instruments are cowled like a ’60s Alfa and it all illuminates racy red at night. Seats are ample and very supportive, even after a few hours behind the wheel, and handling is quite fun when pressed.

The engine is strong enough to exploit this – it’s noisy when revved but, because of variable valve timing, very effective when you let it sing.

What doesn’t it do well?

Ride quality can feel unsettled, while the car’s height means there’s a bit of body roll through corners – the steering is also stodgy, if light. The engine can be intrusive when you’re not in the mood (it’s surprisingly noisy at faster motorway speeds) and the weighty gearchange is a constant chore. The actual shift quality is OK, but the effort required is excessive.

The Ignis’ worst flaw, however, is its hyper-sensitive throttle which, when mated to a sharp, awkward clutch, makes trickling slowly in traffic a nightmare. You have a choice of either stalling or using far too many revs from rest, so poorly-calibrated and sticky is the throttle; clumsy, untidy and frustrating. Against this, a lack of traction in wet weather, which leads to plenty of front wheel scrabble when exiting junctions, seems a relatively minor flaw.

What’s it like to live with?

Heavy gearchange and infuriating clutch apart, the Ignis is stress-free. Top-level Japanese build quality means it should shake off hard use, while the roomy interior and comfortable seats will always please – there are a trio of three-point seatbelts in the rear too, for extra safety; front and side airbags, and ABS, are also standard. The 1.3-litre engine is economical, averaging over 40mpg, and should prove as long-lived and reliable as all Suzukis.

Downsides include a shallow boot and sparse dealer network, but given the value it offers when new – and promise of decent retained values – the latter shouldn’t be too much of a deterrent.

Would we buy it?

It looks different, it features as standard everything supermini buyers could want (except, perhaps, air conditioning) and drives in a competent way once you excuse the clutch and gearbox. In a class of so many look-alike models, we’d therefore recommend the Ignis; it’s a surprising car, much-improved over its predecessor, and worthy of much more attention. You won’t go wrong with the entry-level model, and will surprise a few people into turning their heads on the way.

We consider it a strong contender.

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