2016 Suzuki Ignis review: Micro 4×4 with style appeal

The Suzuki Ignis is an unlikely car to whet the appetites of the enthusiast community, but between the rally heritage, the funky looks and the surprisingly entertaining drive, this is a car that has captured the imagination of those who love cars as well as those who might just want something that’s roomy on the inside, tiny on the outside, and cheap to run and buy. You can even get it with four-wheel drive, making the Fiat Panda 4×4 about the only direct rival.

Body Style: 5 door hatchback Seats: 4 MRP from lb11,499 – lb15,499
Did you know? The Suzuki Ignis is narrower than a Smart ForTwo

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The Suzuki Ignis is a small car with big abilities. It’s roomier than most of its rivals, including the Fiat Panda 4×4 and more versatile thanks to sliding rear seats, plus its tiny footprint and tight turning circle makes it ideal for city driving. You can also have it with four-wheel drive, which gives it real off-road gumption and makes it perfect for rural motorists who want a winter-proof car that’s still as cheap to run as cars get. On top of all this, it looks great in a Japanese retro way and comes with great low-interest finance deals. However, if you’re not bothered about the micro-SUV abilities of the Ignis, it can look expensive next to more conventional city cars, and it’s noisy on a motorway run.
Technology & Connectivity
Performance & Handling
Spec & Trim Levels
Fuel Economy
We Like
Tiny dimensions and roomy interior
Cool styling and colours
4×4 option
We Don’t Like
Noisy on the motorway
Awkward boot shape
Not as cheap as some conventional city cars

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We all know that styling is a subjective thing, and we’ve heard people say that the Ignis is ‘weird’ or even ‘ugly’. We’ll beg to differ, because we reckon this funky little Suzuki looks great. Sure, it’s got a bit of a bug-eyed look going for it, and the high-roof, narrow-body look makes it appear rather different from most of the shorter, wider city cars that we’re used to. Even so, the Ignis’ styling is in fact inspired by the classic Suzuki Whizzkid, and we love the retro slats in the rear three-quarter and the chrome- or contrast-colour lined headlights. It looks different and very cool, in our books, although you’re best off avoiding SZ3 which is the only model that goes without alloy wheels, wider wheelarches and roof rails.
It’s not all just about looking good with the Ignis, because this car is in fact narrower than a Smart ForTwo so it’s brilliantly practical for UK towns and roads.

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The Suzuki Ignis has a simple dash which, if you go for any trim but base SZ3, has a colour touchscreen screen as its focus. We’d recommend avoiding SZ3 not least because its interior looks rather cheap compared to the higher-spec Ignis trims, thanks to the old-school monochrome readout. Every other Ignis gets a colour touchscreen, and a row of straightforward switches below that. It’s all pretty easy to use, and while the up/down toggle switch that you use to adjust the temperature is a bit slow compared to a rotary switch, it does make small temperature adjustments really easy to do without looking away from the road.
The dials are easy to read, too, with one large, central dial for the speedo and a small rev counter and monochrome trip readout.
The driving position is okay, but it’s a shame that you have to go for top-spec SZ5 to get driver’s seat height adjustment, and there’s no steering wheel reach adjustment (not unusual in the cheap small car arena). While it’s a fairly restrictive range of movement to the wheel and seat, most drivers will be able to get comfortable quite easily thanks to the well placed pedals, armrest and low windowline. Still, more supportive seats and more adjustment would be welcome.
Visbility is good, too, with loads of glass and a boxy body making the Ignis a doddle to park even without the reversing camera that you get as standard on all but the cheapest trim. You can add colourful, gloss interior trim to the interior, too, which look good and make the Ignis’ cabin feel modern.
The Ignis is a reverse Tardis. Tiny on the outside. Huge on the inside. Avoid SZ3 (as if you needed telling again), since it gets standard 60/40 split rear seats while all the other Ignis models get 50/50 split-folding rear seats that slide and recline, giving you more versatility to prioritise space for people or stuff depending on the situation. Put the seats in their default all-the-way-back position and you have a remarkable amount of room for two passengers. More, for instance, than you do in a Ford Focus. No joke – it’s almost unsettlingly spacious back there given how tiny the car is that you got into. The rear doors also open very wide, to almost 90-degrees to to the car’s body, which makes for great access if you’ve got car seats in the back.
The boot is very deep and a bit of an awkward shape; you pay for that rear legroom with a short loadbay if you don’t slide the seats forward a bit. The rear seats also leave a big step up when folded and there’s no variable-height boot floor. Even so, the Ignis is one of the most practical cars in this class despite being one of the narrowest. It’s a shame that you can’t seat three on the rear bench, but then that’s the case in plenty of city cars including the VW Up. The Hyundai i10 is your best bet if you want a city car with occasional five-seat capacity.
You can read all about what it’s like to live with the Suzuki Ignis here, too.

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Technology & Connectivity
The base ‘SZ3’ Ignis is, well, basic. It gets a simple DAB/FM radio with USB input and Bluetooth connection, so it’ll serve the purposes for some but most will prefer the touchscreen setup in the rather better-looking interior of the rest of the Ignis range.
The touchscreen isn’t the quickest to respond, and some of the icons are a bit small to be easy to prod accurately while you’re driving, so certainly the touchscreen in a high-spec Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1 or Peugeot 108 is easier to use, but the Suzuki’s system has decent graphics and is easy to get to grips with.
Apple CarPlay, Andoid Auto and MirrorLink are standard on all but the base SZ3 model, too.

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Performance & Handling
The Suzuki Ignis is only available with an 89bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which with its weedy 88lb ft torque you’d think would be horribly slow. Not so, because the Ignis weighs roughly as much as a crisp packet, coming in at between 855kg and 920kg, with the latter including a four-wheel drive system. It’s very rare to find a car that comes in below 1-tonne these days, never mind under 900kg. As such, the Ignis will do 0-62mph in less than 12seconds, which isn’t bad by the standards of the class, and while we’d like a sixth gear to bring the revs down on the motorway, this is an easy car to enjoy peddling around whether you’re buzzing through town or going for a rally-esque approach to a country road. A five-speed automatic gearbox is available, and doesn’t affect the decent emissions and economy of the Ignis, but we haven’t tried it yet.
Don’t be fooled by the talk of a hybrid ‘SHVS’ system in the Ignis range. The mild hybrid system fitted as standard on SZ5 cars is in fact a clever alternator that harvests energy when you’re braking or coasting in order to use it to power the ancillaries when the car has activated its auto start-stop in traffic, or to give a small boost to acceleration. It’s a nice touch in a city car, but it never runs on electricity alone so isn’t a hybrid in that respect.
Ride and Handling
Go for a front-wheel drive Ignis and you will notice that this little car, with its skinny tyres, will wash wide quite easily in anything but bone-dry conditions. It’s not unpleasant to drive but it’s not the fun, chuckable city car that a VW Up, or even a Hyundai i10 is. Go for the SZ5 Allgrip Suzuki Ignis, which is our pick of the range, and it’s a different story. There’s enough grip that you can gamely swing the Ignis into corners and almost feel Suzuki’s muddy motorsport heritage as it hangs on gamely.
The steering is quite light and slow, which means that you can be twirling your arms quite a bit to make the most of the Ignis’ impressively tiny turning circle in torturous parking situations, but rest assured that if the space is big enough for any car, it’s big enough for the Ignis and you’ll get it in there without looking like a fool.
The Ignis is a reasonably comfortable thing – you can romp over speed humps without thinking about it. However, you will notice potholes and choppy surfaces more than you would in the ever-accomplished and rather softer-riding Hyundai i10, and the Ignis’ ride can feel a bit brittle over expansion joints and the like if you hit them at higher speeds.
The Allgrip model is actually very effective off-road provide you don’t ask too much of it in terms of clearance. The skinny wheels find traction in all kinds of tricky situations and you even get hill descent control as standard.
Recommended engine: 1.2 Dualjet SHVS 4×4 Allgrip
0-62 MPH
11.1 seconds
Fuel economy
60.1 mpg

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The Suzuki got three out of five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, which is a bit alarming at first glance. However, it’s worth pointing out that the Suzuki was tested under much more stringent Euro NCAP regulations than rivals like the VW Up and Hyundai i10. The latest Kia Picanto also got three stars when tested under the 2017 Euro NCAP rules, and most other current city cars would get the same result if re-tested.
The Ignis lost a full star because it doesn’t get autonomous emergency braking as standard across the range but a dual-camera autonomous emergency braking system that senses imminent collisions with pedestrians or cars at town speeds is standard on Adventure and SZ5, and is optional on the rest of the range. You do get six airbags, two Isofix points, a tyre pressure monitoring system and traction and stability control. What is hard to forgive is that you can’t have a spare tyre – even a space saver – and there’s no alarm on any Ignis. You can’t even add one as an option.

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Spec & Trim Levels
The Ignis is available in a great array of bright colours, and even the only no-cost colour – Fervent Red (shown above) – looks cool. The Flame Orange, Boost Blue or Pure White Pearl paints (lb465) look particularly good, and you can get contrasting black roof, smoked wheels and colourful decals that emphasis the retro styling cues on the Ignis. You can also add colour-matched, gloss interior trim that also works well and adds interest inside the funky little Suzuki.
Trim Levels
There are four main trim levels – SZ3, SZ-T, Adventure and SZ5. Avoid SZ3, as it’s the only one that does without the colour touchscreen and nav, alloy wheels, a rear view camera, and the sliding 50/50 split rear seats. SZ-T is the best bet if you’re not bothered about four-wheel drive, which is only available on SZ5, as it comes with all the essential comfort and convenience features including nav, automatic headlights and a rear-view camera, plus it looks much better as it has alloys and wider wheelarches than SZ3.
Adventure is mostly about style and gets a rear spoiler, front and rear skid plates and decals, but oddly is only available with front-wheel drive.
Our pick of the range is the SZ5 with 4×4 Allgrip. Sure, this makes the Ignis look expensive next to front-wheel drive rivals like the Hyundai i10 and VW Up, but the four-wheel drive feature makes this more of a micro-SUV rather than a standard city car, so it’s ideal for any rural motorists who might want something usefully small and efficient that’s still going to be unstoppable in heavy winter conditions. Plus, it gets keyless go, leather steering wheel, LED daytime running lights, climate control, rear electric windows and the autonomous emergency braking system. You can have SZ5 without 4×4 (which’ll save you lb1000).
Size and Dimensions
Max towing weight unbraked – braked
400kg – 1000kg (2WD models only)

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Fuel Economy
The Ignis very good for efficiency – it’ll do just over 100g/km in most forms, or if you go for the 4×4 with SHVS it’ll come in under 100g/km, and even more impressive is that the Ignis is really economical in the real world. Lots of small cars claim official economy of more than 60mpg, as the Ignis does, but the Ignis will do well over 50mpg in normal use – even the 4×4. You can read all about what it’s like to live with the Suzuki Ignis here, too.
Reliability and servicing
It’s tricky to comment on reliability as the Ignis is too new but as a brand Suzuki fares very well in ownership surveys. A three year, 60,000 mile warranty is standard, which is the same as most rivals but looks pretty scant compared to Kia’s seven year warranty and Hyundai’s five year warranty. You also get one year’s AA roadside assistance as standard.

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The Ignis is very competitively priced, and Suzuki is great for offering zero (or very low) deposit and zero interest finance deals. For instance, the SZ-T (which is the best bet if you don’t want four-wheel drive) is lb220 per month for three years with no deposit and no interest. Or the SZ5 4×4, with a lb1000 deposit, comes in a lb250 per month for three years also with no interest. It is difficult to get monthly payments town to the attention-grabbing, circa lb130 per month figure that you can have a Hyundai i10 or Skoda Citigo/Seat Mii/VW Up for, though, unless you put down a fairly hefty deposit or have another car to trade in.
First time driver
Go for the SZ5 Allgrip – it’s easy to drive and secure in all conditions, and comes with AEB as standard
Cost Conscious
SZ-T is the best balance of value and comfort, and is still a well equipped and practical car
Trend Setter
Go for Adventure, which comes with the very cool contrast decals. We particularly like it in black with red highlights for what looks like a Japanese retro take on the A-Team van. It doesn’t get cooler than that.
Sharper to drive, and a classier-looking interior, but without the headroom and micro-SUV functionality
Kia Picanto
Good to drive, massive warranty. A great value and good-looking city runabout
Hyundai i10
Comfy, cheap, and the only car that rivals the Ignis for interior space and exterior compactness. A bit dull, but a very sensible option.
Fiat 500
Nowhere near as practical – it’s tiny inside – but seriously chic to look at
Toyota Aygo
Good infotainment on the high-spec versions, and looks kind of cool with the contrast ‘cross’ styling. Not quite as good to drive, nor as practical as the best rivals.
Check out:
New Suzuki Ignis Adventure is a miniature A-Team van
Suzuki Ignis 1.2 SZ5 AllGrip: Living with it


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