- Cutesy styling, inside and out
- Perfect size and manoeuvrability in the city
- Featherweight 865kg means it feels peppy and sips fuel
- No auto emergency braking or active safety
- Lacks refinement and stability at higher speeds
- Interior presentation is very basic
So, what exactly is it? Is it a hatchback? Is it an SUV? We’re not really sure, but the one thing we’re certain about is that the 2021 Suzuki Ignis won’t be mistaken for anything else on the road. Suzuki lovingly calls the Ignis an ultra-compact SUV – blending the tough, boxy styling and raised ride height you’d expect of an SUV with the teeny tiny footprint and packaging of a light hatchback.
With Australia’s insatiable appetite for SUVs and affordable cars rolled into one neat little Frankenstein-esque package, has Suzuki cracked the code for a top seller? Let’s find out.
Price and Specs: 7/10
The 2021 Suzuki Ignis is offered in two trim levels – the GL and GLX. Both models sharing a 1.2-litre petrol four-cylinder engine. The GL offers a five-speed manual from $18,740 plus on-road costs, or a CVT for an additional $1,000. The top shelf GLX is a CVT-only affair, starting from $21,740 before on roads.
While you may think the main difference between the two models will be limited to equipment, those who regularly plan to use the rear seats should note that the GL is a five seater where the range topping GLX oddly loses out on its middle seat – bringing its total down to four.
The base GL comes with 15-inch steel wheels, roof rails, electric windows and mirrors and front foglights as standard. Inside you get a leather steering wheel, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a four-speaker stereo, a reversing camera and manual air-conditioning.
The GLX adds automatic LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, 16” alloy wheels, two extra tweeters, satellite navigation, automatic climate control, and a proximity key with push-button start. It’s worth noting that neither spec offers any form of active safety technology, like autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane keep assist, automatic high beam, etc. We think that is inexcusable in 2021.
The only option you can choose is $595 for metallic paint. Our test car was a 2021 Suzuki Ignis GLX finished in ‘Khaki Pearl’ metallic paint, bringing the total to $24,585 drive away. Yes, the Ignis offers a decent value equation with desirable SUV toughness, but competitors like the Kia Stonic S and Hyundai Venue offer autonomous emergency braking, more generous dimensions and bigger engines for similar money. The Kia also has a longer warranty to boot.
Performance & Economy: 7.5/10
The 2021 Suzuki Ignis brings a 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine to the table which is paired with a CVT automatic in our GLX test car. It sends 66kW/120Nm to the front wheels only, even though some overseas markets can opt for a mild hybrid and all-wheel drive- we wish both options were available in Australia to further add uniqueness to the Ignis.
60kW paired with a CVT sounds like a nightmare, right? Wrong, actually. The Ignis gets up and goes with reasonable satisfaction. A lot of this is due to its featherweight status, coming in a just 865kg. This results in peppy performance from the tiny engine, even if you spend a lot more time burying the throttle than you do in other cars. What do they say about slow cars driven fast?
Yes, it’s not aurally very satisfying – with the engine feeling rather unrefined and breathless as you reach higher speeds – but it rarely feels like a slug and you eventually learn to adapt to its power deficit. Other than its trademark whine at full throttle, the CVT is actually a good unit – keeping the revs where they need to be depending on your driving style.
That lack of power and heft pays off at the bowser, too. Without any modern fuel-saving technologies, like idle stop/start or hybridisation, the Ignis managed an impressive 5.1L/100km over mixed driving. That’s closer to its claimed figure (4.9L/100km) than most cars achieve, and that’s even with occasionally mashing the pedal to the floor.
The Kia Stonic and Hyundai Venue both offer bigger engines than the Ignis, but we think the Ignis edges the Stonic’s 1.4-litre in terms of driver satisfaction and economy – even despite the Stonic coming with a proper automatic (or manual, if that’s your thing). The Hyundai Venue and its 88kW 1.6-litre engine is ultimately the best to drive, but fuel consumption is notably worse off at 9.0L/100km
Ride & Handling: 8/10
It’s easy to forget how fun small cars can be to drive. The 2021 Suzuki Ignis is the closest Australians can get to buying a Japanese kei car. It’s diminutive 3.7-metre length and 1.66-metre width makes it an absolute breeze to drive in built-up areas. Three-point turns? Never heard of her. Can’t find a parking spot? Make your own. The Ignis’ manoeuvrability is unrivalled amongst other small SUVs, with its closest competitor in terms of size being the Kia Picanto.
The steering is light and accurate and gives you confidence in the little Ignis. It even feels relatively stable through corners, likely a result of its tiny kerb weight and having each wheel at the furtherest corner of the car. The suspension has its moments where it feels a bit firmer than you’d expect it to. Some bumps are also exaggerated from the Ignis’ tiny wheelbase, where bigger speed bumps and lumps on the road can almost create a see-saw effect.
Take the Ignis out of the city and on the open road and a few more cracks start to show. The amount of road and wind noise tells you that there’s likely no sound insulation whatsoever and it feels less stable the faster you go. Windier areas can also change the car’s line in a rather disconcerting manner.
There’s no doubt that the bigger Kia Stonic or Hyundai Venue will make for better open road cruisers, but they simply cannot match the Suzuki Ignis around town. If you live in an urban area or city centre, it’s hard to beat the practicality its diminutive dimensions offer.
Interior & Practicality: 6/10
The 2021 Suzuki Ignis is unmistakably Suzuki inside. If you’ve sat inside any new Suzuki in the last 10 years you’ll know exactly what to expect. Very basic technology, tinny-but-hardwearing materials and no-frills ambience. This is not going to make you feel special or wow your mates, but it’s going to get the job done and it’s going to last.
The dashboard feels absolutely hard and hollow. No soft plastics, no leather, no stitching, no ambient lighting and nothing more than you need. The only means of breaking up the sea of grey plastic is the contrasting piece of white plastic that stretches across the dash and a gloss black frame that surrounds the infotainment system. The rest of the design flourishes are integrated into the mouldings of the plastic. This includes a rather groovy-looking cylinder that houses the automatic climate control and some embossings in the front footwell that look suspiciously similar to the Adidas logo (which matches the Adidas-like logo on the B-pillar outside the car). Speaking of footwells, there’s a nasty hump in the carpet on the passenger side that looks deformed and crinkled. We’re not sure if it comes from factory like this or if it’s something that happens if the passenger places their foot there, but it looks decidedly cheap.
There’s very little else to comment on inside. You get six airbags but nothing in the way of active safety, four electric windows but none with one-touch up/down, and automatic headlights but no automatic wipers.
The 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is as basic as they come. The resolution is low and the graphics feel like they belong in the 80s. There a no knobs, only touch-operated hotkeys flanking either side of the screen which are rather fiddly to use. Luckily drivers get to use the steering controls instead. It comes equipped with satellite navigation but the system is clunky to use and you’ll most likely rather use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (both wired), which makes up for a lot of the shortfalls of the proprietary system. Audio quality is equally average but at least you get six speakers versus four in the base.
We’re glad to see the steering wheel wrapped in leather and all the controls neatly laid out. The instrument cluster neatly styled if very basic – offering just an analogue speedometer, tachometer, a basic digital (but not colour) trip computer that shows the time, temperature, your fuel consumption, your kilometres and your fuel gauge.
There are two decent sized cupholders up front, a tiny tray that’s only good for keys in front of said cupholders and then a shallow tray below the handbrake that’s suitable for most smartphones. The glovebox is small, but the door bins are reasonable and have good-sized cutouts for bottles. The seats themselves are comfortable but offer little lateral support (not that you’ll need it). The seats are perched rather high up, no doubt for the authentic SUV experience, and thanks to the boxy body it provides you with great all-round visibility.
Moving to the back sees the the two passengers treated to good head and shoulder room (primarily because the GLX only seats two at the back) but knee room is challenging for taller passengers. Most won’t want to spend much time there regardless, as the only amenities on offer are the electric windows, a single map pocket and small bottle holders. No vents, charging facilities, centre armrest or cupholders.
The boot is reasonably-sized at 264 litres when you consider the 575mm-longer Mazda CX-3 offers the same amount of space. This can be increased to 1104L of maximum space with the rear seats folded. The Kia Stonic and Hyundai both offer relatively no-frills interiors but better disguise it with a better use of design, colours and material choices. Both also offer vastly more technology, safety, interior and boot space (352 litres for the Stonic, 355 litres in the venue.
Running Costs & Warranty: 8.0/10
The 2021 Suzuki Ignis comes with a five-year warranty (used car buyers should be warned that earlier models only received three years of coverage) with unlimited kilometres and five years of roadside assistance as well.
Servicing for the Ignis comes yearly or every 15,000km and is capped for five years or 100,000km. Over that period it’ll cost $1,465, averaging out at a reasonably $293 per service. It beats both the Kia Stonic ($1,958) and Hyundai Venue ($1,575) in terms of affordability over five years, and its frugal powertrain means you’ll spend less on fuel, too.
2021 Suzuki Ignis DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.3/10
Considering what’s on offer, the 2021 Suzuki Ignis GLX surprised and delighted us in a way not many new cars do. Where most try to wow you with over the top technology, ostentatious design, personalisation and gimmicks, the Ignis is an honest little SUV (it still feels odd calling it an SUV) that follows a less is more approach.
It’s unrefined and doesn’t exactly pamper the driver but less equipment and less heft means that the pint-sized SUV is a fun steer, reasonably perky and a cinch to drive in urban environments. It’s affordable and it’ll cost you nothing to run, too. It’s only real fumble is in the safety department. In 2021, it’s becoming harder to overlook a car without any life-saving active safety equipment, even at this end of the segment. We hope Suzuki will work to fix this major blemish in its otherwise charming little SUV in a coming update.
More: Suzuki news and reviews