Saturday 20 January 2018

Balancing the bucks: ups and downs of Suzuki Ignis

Suspension proves to be a major negative

Suzuki Ignis
Suzuki Ignis
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Sometimes, I can be a devil for overreacting. Only sometimes. And I'm working on it, I am (with some, but not total, success). There is still a sense of doom and gloom when Manchester United lose (or draw, more likely, with their unbelievable brand of 'boreball'). But if Offaly win, the sun can shine on the darkest day.

If something annoys me early in a car test-drive, I have to fight hard not to let it overshadow the totality or skew my thinking. I'm getting there. I guess we all bring expectations and prejudices to bear in the course of our days: be it work, family or leisure time.

Yet, I promise, I brought none to the Suzuki Ignis, a compact crossover that is, to say the least, different.

It is tall, angular along the rear flanks, and ranks somewhere between cheap-'n-cheerful and funky/trendy in the cabin.

I like small, tall cars but I began my week wondering if I could live with the shape of this. Not my cup of tea for sure, but no reason to react negatively, I told myself. A lot of others seemed to like the look of it.

My patience was stretched, however with the touchscreen/infotainment system's 'buttons'. I felt they would drive me mad. They're the feckiest, pokiest, magnifying-glass-required piece of interface I've come across since trying to read the impossible instructions for putting a bunk bed together. The Ignis display itself is middling, but the buttons underneath it are of pinhead dimensions.

But no, oh no!, I wouldn't let that substantially overshadow other elements in the car that, to be fair, is worthy of more than a knee-jerk reaction.

First of all, I had to consider the price (from €12,995). You can never, ever overreact enough to price. This is keen; a lot of car for your buck. It costs much the same as a little city car but it's far bigger. If you're tall, you'll especially love the headroom. If you're on a budget, the price will appeal big time. I don't think it really looks like a crossover, but who am I to argue over what is and isn't? All I know is, the shape and dimensions provide a platform for as roomy a car as you could wish - with a decent enough boot, too.

And you'll have no bother keeping the inside clean; there's plenty of hard, easy-to-wipe plastic surfaces alongside the 'funky' bits (an orange-coloured door-grip on my version, would you believe?)

My time in the Ignis coincided with a fair bit of driving up and down the country - 750km+ all in - so whatever overreaction was welling up initially, abated over the term.

I found it, as you'd expect, dead easy to park and nip around town in.

And it was interesting to see what they call their 'mild hybrid' system (SHVS) at work; its performance can be viewed on a little display.

It helps boost power for short periods of acceleration, charges a special battery which reduces the load on the conventional one, and kicks in to restart the engine (stop/start is nearly standard on all cars these days and reduces fuel consumption buy a few percentage points).

Its big claim to fame is that it cuts emissions to the extent that it puts this particular model in the €180 road tax bracket - that's a fair achievement with a 1.2-litre petrol engine.

Out on the better-surfaced roads, it was grand to drive - but you could say the same thing about most newish cars on a motorway these days.

Where it lost out big time, for me, was the thudding that came through to the cabin when driven over rougher, scarred city streets. It really, really jarred then.

I could live, possibly, with the pinpoint buttons and, maybe, with the looks, but for a car that I think would be more at home in urban/suburban settings, the poor suspension performance would be the biggest deterrent for me.

I'd noticed this on a previous drive but put it down to some exceptionally bad roads in the Wicklow/Wexford region so I'm not overreacting.

I'd have to say the Ignis is a better car in many ways than I might have given it credit for at the beginning.

Admittedly, it is something of an acquired taste but, you know, that's fair enough.

It is different, unusual, outside the box; call it what you will, it is not conventional. And it is practical. I'd see it as a handy second-family car.

However, its big drawback - the inability to sufficiently soak up and blunt the intrusion of poor-road impact - ultimately tips it into negative territory compared with most cars in the price range.

That would be my 'mature reflection' after 750km-worth of acquaintance.

FACTS & FIGURES

Suzuki Ignis, compact crossover. 1.2-litre petrol, 90bhp, 97g/km with mild hybrid 97g/km (SHVS), road tax from €180; 4.7l/100km (claimed).

Prices from €12,995 for SZ-3 entry-level; SZ-T costs €1,500 more; SZ-5 additional €2,000. Tested version €16,495; auto (manual gearshift AGS) €1,500 extra.

Standard spec includes air con, DAB radio, Bluetooth, six airbags. SZ-T adds sliding rear seats, satnav, rear-view camera, wheel arch extensions, side mouldings, roof rails, 16ins alloys. SZ5 adds Dual Camera Brake Support, cruise control, auto air con, LED headlights with daytime running lights.

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