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Looking for a small affordable second car that's reliable and cheap to run? If so, the Suzuki Ignis might be just what you want, June Neary decides
There's something different about the Suzuki Ignis - but at first glance, it's hard to make up your mind exactly what that is. On paper at least, this is a fairly conventional, affordable little five-door hatchback, with space for four adults. The difference comes when you park it alongside something more run of the mill - which is when you notice the taller than average ride height. The result is an appearance that makes the car look almost like one of those little 4x4s: you want to drive it - it looks like fun. Which is more than you can say of most urban runabouts in the sub-£13,000 price bracket.
Four full-sized adults fit easily into what is quite a small package. Moreover, the seats proved to be surprisingly comfortable, incorporating a sophisticated springing system that apparently distributes pressure applied by the occupants' backs and legs. I liked the high-set driving position, offering a more commanding view of the road than you'd normally expect from a car of this type. This model's sophisticated platform has helped the designers in minimising the size of the engine compartment which has enabled them to maximise the space available for cabin occupants and luggage. That means there's more legroom in the rear than you might expect from a car of this size. There's more luggage pace too, 267-litres in standard models or 204-litres in 4WD 'ALLGRIP' variants. This, combined with the ability to fold down the rear seatbacks, makes it possible to accommodate a wide variety of luggage.
The suspension system isn't the most sophisticated around but it does a good job of mopping up the worst high frequency vibrations. The steering uses an electric power system to take the effort out of low speed manoeuvring. The driving position meanwhile, is much as you'd expect from an inexpensive Japanese car of this type, with not much to offend unless you've an aversion to some rather thin plastics All Ignis buyers get a 1.2-litre Dualjet petrol engine, the one we're familiar with elsewhere in Suzuki's range in both the Swift and the Baleno. As with the Baleno, Ignis buyers prepared to stretch towards top-spec trim have the option of ordering this powerplant in more frugal SHVS mild hybrid form. This compact and lightweight unit incorporates an Integrated Starter Generator (known as ISG) which acts as both a generator and starter motor. SHVS buyers also get the option of Suzuki's ALLGRIP 'AUTO' four-wheel drive system. First introduced in Swift, this is a well proven and simple fully automatic and permanent four-wheel drive layout which transfers additional torque to the rear wheels when required via a viscous coupling.
Prices range in the £10,000 to £13,000 bracket and, as ever, equipment levels depend upon your choice of trim. The Ignis is available in SZ3, SZ-T and SZ5 grades. Buyers get a choice of 11 colours with full personalisation options available for both exterior and interior trim. As for equipment, well six airbags, air conditioning, a DAB Radio and Bluetooth all come fitted as standard on all Ignis models. The SZ-T variant adds sliding rear seats, satellite navigation, a rear view camera, wheel arch extensions, side mouldings and roof rails and 16-inch alloy wheels. If you can stretch to the top SZ5, you'll get auto air conditioning, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, Dual Camera Brake Support and Cruise Control.
I liked the Ignis and so will a lot of traditional Suzuki buyers, people who are interested in practicality and convenience. Even others used to more conventional cars may well find it a refreshing change from the norm, as long as their expectations in terms of ultimate performance aren't too great.