Suzuki Ignis VS Suzuki Jimny
- Unique looks and charm
- Great ride for small car
- Excellent multimedia system
- May be too cute for some
- Misses out on key safety tech
- Underdone specs in base car
- Relatively thirsty
You're right, the Suzuki Ignis has been sold in Australia before... between 2000 and 2008, to be exact. Interesting story – the first ever Holden Cruze was a redesigned Ignis, done in just 12 weeks in Melbourne, before it was given to the Yanks as a Chevrolet.
Anyway, I digress... the new generation of Ignis is very similar to the old one in concept and design; it's a lightweight, high-sided, small SUV five-door hatchback powered by a small engine driving the front wheels.
Even though it's by far the lightest, and one of the smallest in the category, the Japanese-built Ignis is classed as a small SUV, and competes against the likes of the bigger Mazda CX-3 and Mitsubishi ASX.
It's sold in two grades - the entry level GL, and the top-spec GLX - with a single 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine spec and the choice of a manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT) in the GL. The GLX is CVT only. Pricing kicks off at a keen $16,990 before on-road costs.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
One thing is clear: The Suzuki Jimny does not need this media coverage.
No. The quaint little off-roader is somehow so entrenched in the Australian mindset that for the first year of this fourth-gen model's existence, there has been a waiting list to get one consistently between six and 12 months long.
In fact, reading this review will probably be of little use to you, given every new Jimny from now until some time in 2021 is spoken for despite a 30 per cent increase in production and prices inching up by roughly $2000.
We already know this quirky alternative SUV is as good as it looks off-road, so the question we’re out to answer in this review is: Is the Jimny nostalgic to a fault? That is, is it even remotely practical as a daily driver in an urban centre? Read on to see if we found an answer…
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
With striking looks that appeal to an incredibly wide array of people, honest simplicity, and comfort and functionality to back it up, Suzuki is on a winner with the little Ignis.
Lack of a digital speedo, a shortish warranty and frequent service requirements play against it, but it's still a worthy alternative in the small SUV category.
The Ignis is much more than a sum of its parts, and it's a terrific car for the cut and thrust of urban warfare.
The sweet spot of the range is probably the most expensive one, the GLX. With more flexible seating and better specs, the GLX adds enough to the overall experience to make it worth the extra coin.
Is the Suzuki Ignis hot... or not? Let us know in the comments below.
If you love the Jimny and are in the already excessively long line to buy one, you don’t need me to tell you it’s not the smartest, most advanced, and user-friendly choice to drive around town.
If you’re on the fence about it, just know this little box is retro to a fault, and if you’re not planning on going out of bounds once in a while, it really won’t be living its best life.
And while that might sound a bit negative, it has to be said I loved every moment of driving and looking at this car despite its SUV shortcomings.
The exterior design of the Ignis is one of its key selling points. Suzuki can't be accused of having a corporate design language; every one of its cars is completely different to the others.
The 3700mm long Ignis uses a riot of straight lines, a wacky grille and headlight treatment and bulbous wheel arches in combination with minimalist overhangs and a bit of extra ride height to stand out from the crowd.
The GL uses a regular halogen headlight, while the GLX gets overtly styled LED headlights to further set it apart.
Interior photos show a similar theme, with clever use of colours and textures to play down the impact of swathes of hard plastics throughout the cabin.
Body-coloured pieces including the centre console and door handle grips combine with white plastic to lift the interior feel. It looks like someone who loves cars had a hand in designing the Ignis, and that's a great thing.
This whole car is pretty much built around the way it looks. Is it form over function? That depends.
For off-road capability it would seem form and function are in sync. But around town there’s a bit of give and take. We’ll explore that more in the practicality section of this review.
In terms of its retro look though it’s clear the Jimny is almost universally loved. It’s cute but tough, approachable but utilitarian.
The styling elements of the Jimny are intentionally made up of elements from each preceding generation. The rounded-out LED lights with separate indicators and its flat face are in reference to the original LJ10 which hit the market in 1960, the bonnet design harks back to the second-generation (SJ410) in 1981, while the slotted grille and pumped guards are in reference to the third-generation (aka the Sierra) from 1998.
Inside the rugged aesthetic continues, with grab handles and hose-out plastics adorning the dash. You probably shouldn’t actually take a hose to it though, because the modern screen, climate cluster, and multifunction wheel are lifted straight from the Swift, leaving no question this is a Suzuki product.
The seats are literal blocks of foam, the plastics are hard, and everything is manually adjustable – there isn’t even keyless entry or push-start ignition. Some will hate its lack of luxuries, but more than a few will be willing to forgive its commitment to rugged simplicity.
If I could make one change? Give the Jimny it’s own rugged-looking steering wheel! The modern Swift one looks almost out of place.
So, how many seats does a Suzuki Ignis have? Five in the GL and four in the GLX.
While its external dimensions are relatively small for the category, the Ignis really opens up on the inside. There is plenty of room for four people aboard thanks to clever packaging and a high roofline, while a fifth passenger can be crammed into the middle of the (60/40 split fold) second row of the GL.
The GLX offers only two second-row seats but adds a clever system that allows the two seats to slide fore and aft separately as well as to recline. Seat comfort is good in both cars, and rear head, toe and knee room is impressive for such a small hatch.
Because there's no centre console bin for the front, there are no vents for the rear, nor are there USB chargers. There is a pair of ISOFIX baby seat mounts, though, and a single USB port up front.
A clear dash readout does miss out on a digital speedo. There are two cup holders side by side in front of the gear shifter, along with a sizeable mobile phone pocket beneath the air con controls. A third cup holder is provided for rear seaters to share, and there are bottle holders in each of the four doors.
It's worth mentioning its extra ground clearance – it sits 180mm above the ground – plus wide door apertures and minimal overhangs front and rear. It's easy to hop in and out of and an absolute pleasure to park.
Put simply: It’s not practical at all on the inside.
Let’s start with the driver’s area. Immediately annoying is no telescopic adjust for the steering, and minimal manual adjustment for the basic seats. Storage is limited to some very small binnacles in the doors, a tiny slot for your phone, as well as two non-adjustable cupholders and another tiny slot (which I put my wallet in for an idea of how big it is) near the transmission.
In terms of connectivity there is a single USB port, auxiliary input, and a 12V power outlet.
The rear seat is even more basic, consisting of a foam bench and some rudimentary seat backers which can fit two occupants. I was genuinely surprised to find dual ISOFIX child-seat mounting points back there, as well as top-tether anchors. Clambering in is easier than it might look thanks to the huge door aperture and I fit with limited room and comfort behind my own driving position.
Was it adequate? Yes. Would I want to spend much time there? Probably not.
Boot space is non-existent with the rear two seats in their upright position, but they do fold flat for a large, open and useful area when operating as a two-seater. Suzuki says this space is 377 litres, but it seems larger. Check out our pics to get an idea of what it looks like with a large luggage case and some extra equipment bags.
One drawback I found is the hard-wearing plastic surface made it impossible to keep loose objects from being thrown around in the corners. Consider investing in a luggage net, perhaps.
One practicality wonder for urban users will be this car’s tiny dimensions. At 3645mm long (including the spare wheel) and 1645mm wide, the Jimny occupies a footprint much smaller than even Hyundai’s new Venue small SUV.
This means you can park pretty much anywhere, although the 1720mm height makes for some sketchy moments in some multi-story carparks.
Price and features
So, how much is a Suzuki Ignis? The GL and GLX are pretty closely related, running the same 1.2-litre, 66kW four-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels.
The GLX only comes in CVT guise, and at a price of $19,990 RRP before on-roads.
While the vibrant colour palette of the Ignis is one of its strong points, the price also goes up accordingly. Metallic colours like orange, grey, blue and red are $500 extra, while adding a black roof will set you back $500.
If you want to mix things up with a bit of colour, optional internal pieces will set you back $630.
Specs are pretty basic in the GL, with 15-inch steel wheels, halogen lights, electric windows and mirrors, an analog-dial air conditioning system and a small tablet-style touchscreen multimedia system the highlights of a pretty short list.
Lights and wipers are manual, for example, and there are few other toys like digital radio or even a CD player. The standard speakers are fine, and the GLX gains a pair of tweeters over the four standard items.
The multimedia system is a good one, though, offering Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, sat nav, Bluetooth streaming and phone connectivity and radio functions. A single USB port and 12V socket are also included.
The GLX adds automatic headlights, digital-style air con (but not dual zone climate control), 16-inch alloy rims and upgraded seats throughout, along with LED headlights. It gets nothing fancy like park assist or a sunroof.
Given the Jimny's unique character, it’s hard to argue with its budget price-point. At an MSRP of $27,990 for the priciest automatic version (as tested here), it’s not even really expensive for its size-bracket. To get something which looks and feels like this, your next port of call is the Jeep Wrangler at a whopping $59,450.
Makes sense the Jimny is flying off the shelves, then.
Standard fitment isn’t too bad. Almost everything from the Swift hatchback is not only included but looks about the same, with familiar gear appearing in the form of a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, as well as built-in navigation.
Other notable features include single-zone climate control, privacy glass, a small function screen nestled in the instrument cluster, a reversing camera, and of course, a low-range transfer case with H4 and L4 modes.
Options are limited to premium paints at $500 which can also be two-tone with a contrast roof for $1250.
There are some active safety features, although the Jimny misses out on a high score. More on that later.
Engine & trans
The Ignis ships with a naturally aspirated 1.2 litre engine with specifications of 66kW of power at a high 6000rpm and 120Nm of torque at 4400rpm, matched to a six-speed manual or a CVT driving the front wheels.
The 16-valve unit features dual injectors on each piston with a higher compression ratio and a timing chain to provide rev-happy performance. It's not a high horsepower unit but it gets the job done.
The CVT offers a 'Low Range' option, which seems to do little other than rev the engine to no great affect, as well as a 'Sport' button that again just lets the engine rev higher.
The only drivetrain on offer in Australia is a front-wheel drive, even though all-wheel drive is offered in overseas markets, along with a diesel and petrol/electric hybrid.
Of note; Suzuki do not offer any stats on towing for the Ignis.
The Jimny has a 1.5-litre non-turbo four-cylinder petrol engine producing 75kW/130Nm. There’s no getting around the fact this SUV is low on power and you’ll need to really kick it to the firewall at times to extract close to peak power (which arrives at a distant 6000rpm).
For this test, we had the automatic Jimny which comes with a four-speed torque converter automatic.
You read that right, four speeds. It even has an overdrive button. Very ‘90s.
The Jimny also has a real transfer case with low-gearing however, so it makes up for its low-tech drivetrain by having some real ability behind its tough looks.
Against a claimed average of 4.9 litres per 100km for the CVT equipped versions of the Ignis, we recorded a dash indicated fuel economy figure of 5.4L/100km in the GL and 6.4 in the GLX.
The fuel consumption of the manual is rated at 4.7L/100km. The Ignis has a relatively small 32-litre fuel tank capacity and can use 91RON petrol.
The Jimny’s official combined fuel usage figure when fitted with the automatic transmission is 6.9L/100km. Sounds fine, although our weekly test which mainly kept to urban streets produced a dash-reported 8.5L/100km.
Fine for a capable off-roader, I suppose, but less impressive in the context of the Jimny’s size and relatively lean 1090kg kerb weight.
Thanks to its lack of mass – it weighs just 865kg at the kerb, and the manual is 45kg lighter again - the Ignis is a surprisingly fun little car to drive, though its 0-100 km/h performance figures won't worry anyone.
It's lively and easy to handle, it steers perfectly adequately and turns and stops with confidence. The whine and flare of the CVT are more prominent when you start to drive the car, as well as an odd notchy feeling when it's cold, but it becomes less intrusive the more you drive it.
The ride in particular is a real standout. Most small cars have a brittle, sharp edged ride as a result of essentially smaller suspension packaging; there's just not enough travel to give the car any sort of comfortable ride.
The higher profile 15-inch tyres on the GL also iron out the bumps a little bit better than the 16s on the GLX, but the smaller tyres don't feel as nice or work as well as the larger items.
There's a bit of tyre roar on rougher tarmac but it all but disappears again when the going smooths out. For a small car that weighs less than 900kg, though, its ability to filter out noise is excellent.
The Jimny drives how it looks, for better or worse. The good includes visibility thanks to its big upright windows and generous rear vision mirrors, the ride which is so beyond capable for urban use it’ll have you driving over roundabouts and mounting kerbs for fun, and your distance from the ground makes the cabin surprisingly quiet despite thin sheet metal.
You’ll probably never tire of its fun interior fittings and touch-points which blend the modern feel of the Swift’s steering wheel and multimedia screen with the distinctly military-look dial cluster, manual handbrake and transfer case shifter.
There are some quirks of the Jimny though, which you will tire of over time. The steering is fine at most urban speeds, but gets vague above 80km/h and annoyingly heavy at or near a standstill, making parking more of a chore than it should be.
The little box’s centre of gravity is notably high, too, and you feel disconnected from corners and the road generally thanks to its ladder frame and capable suspension. You’ll find yourself slowing down for bends, which at best are tipsy and at worst uncomfortable.
The 1.5-litre engine and old-school four-speed auto combine to make a less-than-enthusiastic package. You’ll really need to kick the Jimny in the guts to get it up to speed, leaving you very little power in reserve for overtaking.
What’s more, the transmission is noisy and incredibly transparent about what it’s doing, lurching between gears in an acceleration experience which is a little too reflective of cars from 20 years ago.
At this point, I know what you’re thinking: “So, you didn’t like it very much?” Actually, quite the opposite. The Jimny possesses an honest old-world charm few vehicles on the market today come anywhere close to. There is something genuinely appealing about how it wears its flaws on its sleeve, so I subjectively enjoyed the drive experience quite a lot, bouncing around in the driver’s seat with a smile on my face every trip. Potential owners deserve to know it is nostalgic to a fault, however.
No electronic safety features are offered on Australian-spec cars, either, even though there is an optional safety pack available in overseas markets.
Standard safety gear runs to six airbags - including curtain bags and thorax bags for front row occupants - EBD, ABS and hill-hold assist.
The Jimny’s less-than-impressive three-star ANCAP rating was widely publicized near its release, and one look at the photos from the offset crash tests are enough to make you a little uncomfortable behind the wheel.
Still Suzuki has put effort in to include active safety refinements, like auto emergency braking (works from 15-100km/h, detects pedestrians but not cyclists, limited function at night), and lane departure warning. There is no lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, or more advanced items like traffic sign recognition.
Six airbags are standard along with electronic brake, traction, and stability controls.
Suzuki offers a standard three-year/100,000km warranty on the Ignis, which lags behind offers from rivals like Kia of up to seven years and unlimited kilometres.
Servicing is recommended at 10,000km or six-month intervals, which is again shorter than intervals suggested by competitors like Mazda and Toyota. A five-year capped price service program means service costs of $2207 in total.
When it comes to clutch problems or a transmission problem, the new Ignis has yet to show fault. It's too early in the car's life to see any problems, complaints, issues or common faults arise.
Suzuki offers all of its vehicles with an updated five-year unlimited kilometre warranty (on par with other mainstream automakers) and requires servicing once every 12 months or 15,000km whichever comes first.
Service pricing is fixed for the first six visits and costs between $239 and $519 per appointment and comes out to a yearly average of $362.33. Not bad.