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Suzuki Ignis 2020 review: GLX

EXPERT RATING
6.9
The Suzuki Ignis is one of those genre-bending models. Is it a small SUV? A hatchback? A crossover? Who knows! And does it really matter? Not really! That's because the Ignis stands tall as a truly unique car in its market segment - though it does have strong competition. Does it make sense as a city runabout? Let's find out.

You can't help but like this car. The Suzuki Ignis 2020 model lives up to the brand's new tag line "For Fun's Sake" better than any of the other models in the line-up.

What I mean by that is two-fold. It's a charming embodiment of fun car design on the one hand, but it's also a choice you could logically ignore if you aren't looking for something "different".

A Suzuki Swift or Suzuki Baleno would be a better city hatchback, for instance, and it's only a bit of a stretch to a Suzuki Vitara if you're buying something like this on the pretence of it being a bit like an SUV.

So why would you buy an Ignis? Just because it's fun? Is that enough of a reason? Hopefully this review answers those questions.

Suzuki Ignis 2020: GLX
Safety rating
Engine Type1.2L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency4.9L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price from$18,990

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The Suzuki Ignis plays in the city car space, and it's priced as a rival to the likes of the Honda Jazz and the Kia Picanto. You could also consider the aforementioned Swift or Baleno, too.

The Ignis GL base model is priced at $16,690 plus on-road costs for the five-speed manual model, or a grand more for the GL CVT auto ($17,690 plus on-road costs). You'll probably see drive-away deals at, or below, those prices. Bargain hard.

This GLX model is a bit dearer, with a list price of $18,990 plus on-road costs. That's a chunk dearer than its nearest competitor (based on being a not-quite-SUV), the Kia Picanto X-Line auto ($17,790).

Being the top-spec model, the GLX gets a few extras the GL doesn’t, like 16-inch alloy wheels. (image: Matt Campbell) Being the top-spec model, the GLX gets a few extras the GL doesn’t, like 16-inch alloy wheels. (image: Matt Campbell)

Being the top-spec model, the GLX gets a few extras the GL doesn't, like 16-inch alloy wheels as opposed to 15-inch steelies, a chrome grille finish, LED headlights and daytime running lights as opposed to halogens, keyless entry and push-button start rather than regular key, a six-speaker stereo rather than a four-speaker sound system, rear privacy glass and single-zone climate control.

That's on top of the standard 7.0-inch touchscreen media unit with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB connectivity, cruise control, power windows, a leather-covered steering wheel, and fabric seat trim.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

Here's some gibberish straight from the Suzuki Ignis brochure. "It's a small car that makes a big impression. It's a light SUV with loads of space… It's unlike anything."

Nailed it.

It isn't as silly looking now as a few years ago. In 2018, Peter Anderson reviewed a GLX model in grey that had a number of jarring orange design elements. The orange model I had this week wasn't nearly as garish, but still certainly eye-catching.

You'll make up your own mind as to whether you like the Hamburgler mask-style headlights. (image: Matt Campbell) You'll make up your own mind as to whether you like the Hamburgler mask-style headlights. (image: Matt Campbell)

You'll make up your own mind as to whether you like the Hamburgler mask-style headlights, the weird Adidas-like pressing in the C-pillar metal, and the way the saddlebag style rear haunches push outside the line of the body. I think it's one of the most interesting looking cars on the market.

You get a black roof if you option the red paint, and you can option a black roof (or not) for the white version of the Ignis. Other colours include the orange you see here, grey and blue (more aqua than blue, actually). Metallic paint adds $595, two-tone paint is $1095.

If only the Ignis lived up to its looks with a more convincing drive experience. (image: Matt Campbell) If only the Ignis lived up to its looks with a more convincing drive experience. (image: Matt Campbell)

While this sort of car is perfectly suited to urban duties, the Ignis actually has impressive rough road measurements: the ground clearance is 180mm, and it has a 20.0-degree approach angle, 18.0-degree ramp-over/break-over angle, and 38.8-degree departure angle.

It is unlike anything, but that won't be to all tastes. What about the cabin design? Check out the interior pictures to see what you think.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

For such a compact car, the Ignis is surprisingly big on space inside.

Let's talk about the dimensions. Its just 3700mm long (on a 2435mm wheelbase), which positions it among the smallest cars on the road. It also measures just 1660mm wide and 1595mm tall, but the packaging efficiency is excellent.

It must be noted that the top-spec GLX model tested here only has four seats. The GL base car has five seats. Really, who's going to use all three back seats in a car this size? Not many people, probably, but it could be a consideration if you have a child and prefer them in the middle spot: there is no middle spot in the GLX, though both have dual ISOFIX points and top tether points (two in the GLX, three in the GL).

Occupant space in the back is excellent, provided you're not too tall. (image: Matt Campbell) Occupant space in the back is excellent, provided you're not too tall. (image: Matt Campbell)

The thing about the back seat in this spec, though, is that it can slide fore and aft to allow you more boot space if you need it, and the seat backs have recline to them, too. The boot capacity is stated at 264 litres with the seats up, but that jumps substantially if you slide them forward (we believe to 516L - though the information provided by Suzuki isn't very clear), and boot space maxes out at 1104L with seats down.

Occupant space in the back is excellent, provided you're not too tall. Headroom is a little tight for someone my size (182cm), but legroom is very good and toe room is exceptional. And because it's a four-seater in this spec, there's heaps of shoulder space as well.

If you have youngsters, the doors open to almost 90-degrees, making loading in and out a cinch. But if you're an adult, just be aware that headroom is limited getting in and out, and there are no ceiling-mount grab handles in the back, either.

In terms of amenities, there are bottle holders in the back seat and a single map pocket, but no fold-down armrest with cup holders.

  • The boot capacity is stated at 264 litres with the seats up. (image: Matt Campbell) The boot capacity is stated at 264 litres with the seats up. (image: Matt Campbell)
  • That jumps substantially if you slide them forward. (image: Matt Campbell) That jumps substantially if you slide them forward. (image: Matt Campbell)
  • We believe to 516L. (image: Matt Campbell) We believe to 516L. (image: Matt Campbell)
  • Though the information provided by Suzuki isn’t very clear. (image: Matt Campbell) Though the information provided by Suzuki isn’t very clear. (image: Matt Campbell)
  • Boot space maxes out at 1104L with seats down. (image: Matt Campbell) Boot space maxes out at 1104L with seats down. (image: Matt Campbell)

Up front there are a few more storage options, including larger door pockets with bottle holsters, an open storage section rear of the handbrake, a pair of cup holders in front of the gear shifter and a small box ahead of that, as well as a slot on the dash for smaller items.

The design is what offers most appeal, though: the two-tone dashboard makes the Ignis look a lot more expensive than it is. There's an element of customisation to it, too: depending on the exterior colour, you get either orange or titanium (grey) interior colour highlights on the dashboard, vent surrounds and door handles.

It's a nice place to be.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?  

Under the bonnet of the Ignis is a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with pretty meagre outputs of 66kW of power (at 6000rpm) and 120Nm of torque (at 4400rpm). They may be modest numbers, but remember the Ignis is teeny-weeny, and weighs just 865 kilograms in its heaviest spec.

You can get it with a five-speed manual transmission if you buy the base spec, or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic on both grades. We'll get to how it behaves in the driving section below.

Under the bonnet of the Ignis is a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with pretty meagre outputs of 66kW of power. (image: Matt Campbell) Under the bonnet of the Ignis is a 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with pretty meagre outputs of 66kW of power. (image: Matt Campbell)

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

The official combined fuel consumption figure is just 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres for the auto versions, while the manual has claimed economy of 4.7L/100km. That's astounding.

In reality, you can expect to see a bit higher than that. On test - over primarily urban driving - we saw a return of 6.4L/100km.

What's it like to drive?   6/10

If only the Ignis lived up to its looks with a more convincing drive experience - sadly, though, it is nowhere near the best in this class when it comes to road manners.

Sure, its tiny turning circle of 9.4 metres means it'll do a U-turn where most others will need to do a three-point turn, but while city streets should be this little guy's domain, the steering feel lacks consistency and liveliness - the weighting isn't predictable, which negates its small turning circle to a degree, and its a bit hard to judge at higher speeds, too.

Bumpy city streets can be uncomfortable, too. Because the suspension is quite stiff the Ignis gets pushed around a lot when it comes to lumpy roads. Around my area there are sections where streets have been ripped apart and put back together, and I was taken aback at the lack of composure shown by the Ignis in this situation.

While this sort of car is perfectly suited to urban duties, the Ignis actually has impressive rough road measurements. (image: Matt Campbell) While this sort of car is perfectly suited to urban duties, the Ignis actually has impressive rough road measurements. (image: Matt Campbell)

At pace on arterial roads, or even just on smoother surface city streets, there's less to whinge about when it comes to the ride. In fact, in those instances it feels like a more substantial car than it is.

The brake pedal feels spongy and slow to react, and it nearly caught me out once or twice - though I'm sure you get used to it if you own the car.

The 1.2-litre engine is willing but somewhat lethargic, though a lot of that comes down to its transmission. There are people out there who hate CVT automatics, and if one like this is your only experience of such a transmission, then it's easy to see why.

The way this CVT behaves is like the old days, before they had smarts to help them feel more like a conventional automatic with stepped 'shifts'. Nah, this one's a dud. It's hard to judge how the transmission will react when you bury your right foot, or even under light to mid throttle. It's this car's biggest detractor.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   5/10

It's not great reading in this section of the review - mainly because this part of the market has moved fast since the launch of the Ignis in 2016.

The Ignis has not been ANCAP crash tested, nor Euro NCAP crash tested. So it's hard to say how it fares in the event of an accident.

And unlike some of its competitors, the Ignis doesn't have any of the advanced tech that could stop an accident from happening in the first place. There is no autonomous emergency braking (AEB), no pedestrian and cyclist detection, no lane-keeping assistance, no blind-spot monitoring or rear cross traffic alert... nothing.

Well, not nothing. The Ignis does have a reversing camera on both grades, plus two ISOFIX anchor points in the back seat (as well as three top-tethers in the base grade, and two top-tethers in the top-spec).

Airbag coverage consists of dual front, front side and full-length curtain airbags (six in total).

Where is the Suzuki Ignis built? The answer is Japan.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Suzuki has a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan for private buyers, and that is restricted to five years/160,000km for commercial operators.

The brand recently addressed its short service intervals by allowing the Ignis (and other models) maintenance requirements every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever occurs first.

There's a capped price servicing plan for the first six years/90,000km. The first service is pegged at $239, then its $329, $329, $329, $239, and $499. So, you'll average $327 per year on servicing, which isn't too bad.

There is no roadside assist program included for the Ignis.

Verdict

Fun? Yes. Flawed? That's also a yes. If there was a criterion in our testing for "Head Over Heels Appeal", the Ignis would get a 10/10. I personally really like it, despite the fact there are considerably better options out there. If you're like me, that mightn't matter - you might forgive its shortcomings because it's just so likeable in other ways.

Pricing Guides

$17,840
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$16,690
Highest Price
$18,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
GL 1.2L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $16,690 2020 Suzuki Ignis 2020 GL Pricing and Specs
GL (QLD) 1.2L, PULP, CVT AUTO $17,690 2020 Suzuki Ignis 2020 GL (QLD) Pricing and Specs
GLX 1.2L, PULP, CVT AUTO $18,990 2020 Suzuki Ignis 2020 GLX Pricing and Specs
GLX (QLD) 1.2L, PULP, CVT AUTO $18,990 2020 Suzuki Ignis 2020 GLX (QLD) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6.9
Price and features7
Design7
Practicality8
Fuel consumption8
Driving6
Safety5
Ownership7
Matt Campbell
Senior Editor

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Pricing Guide

$18,990

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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