Now, you’d think that providing infotainment that works, is just as crucial as providing that infotainment system in the first place? Sadly, after a few weeks behind the wheel of our long-term 2017 Suzuki Ignis GLX, it seems Suzuki hasn’t quite gotten this crucial element right.
The specifications would indicate reason to rejoice – especially given the sub 20k starting price. There’s proprietary satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bluetooth and USB connections, an excellent 7.0-inch touchscreen, rear-view camera and steering wheel-mounted controls.
That list, especially when you factor in the Ignis’ value for money, is really quite exceptional. So first, let’s address the positives. The satellite navigation system is accurate and snappy – it works well in all scenarios and doesn’t make any guidance mistakes either. The basic operating system is, in other words, easy to use even for a newcomer not familiar with it.
The Bluetooth system is easy enough to connect the first time and it’s clear and concise once connected. The Ignis definitely has one of the better Bluetooth telephone systems we’ve tested across any segment or price point.
Connect your phone as the media player via USB and it is likewise faultless, with the touchscreen affording easy control of said device. The audio system is pretty decent too, with solid sound delivery even at higher volumes.
We love the rear-view camera, which is clear and broad and there’s never a situation where manoeuvering the compact Ignis is an issue. The screen plays its part here too, but the positioning and image from the camera are both excellent. The tablet-like design and positioning of the screen also ensure the rear-view camera image is right where you want it.
Now the not so good…
Some of you might not care, but I genuinely take issue with the lack of a conventional volume control. If you’re the driver, it’s fine because you have switchgear on the steering wheel. If you’re the passenger however, it’s incredibly annoying trying to adjust the volume via the silly slide function on the screen. It seems an overly complex solution to a very simple question and was an issue for my partner too, so it wasn’t just me.
Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, which should provide the solution to any potential Bluetooth ills is, put simply, infuriating. We could not get it to work reliably, to the point where Bluetooth was a better option. CarPlay would drop in or out from one hour to the next or one day to the next and wouldn’t recognise devices previously connected.
A notice that says ‘no smartphone connected’ is a little hard to cop when you’re looking at the smartphone plugged into the system. Even switching the car off, unplugging everything and starting again, wouldn’t rectify the issue.
When it works, CarPlay is excellent. The interface is quick, the menus all work nicely and the touchscreen is accurate. The problem is it keeps disconnecting. All the time. It can happen during a phone call, it can happen when you’re using mapping, it can happen when it’s idle. There is no rhyme or reason.
Imagine you set a destination via the phone before you head off. You connect the phone via CarPlay, and for the first five minutes the guidance all works seamlessly via the screen as it should. Then, all of a sudden, it locks up and switches back to the phone only. Not ideal when the whole point is that you don’t use your phone.
When it’s being properly temperamental, it won’t work no matter what you do, and we often only realised once we had started driving, which means you need to be messing around with the handset while you’re on the move.
The other thing we can’t make any sense of, is the fuel warning light. As soon as it comes on, the distance remaining goes to a series of lines with no indication of theoretical distance you can travel before running out of fuel. Surely, a kilometre indicator (even ballpark figures) would make a lot more sense than nothing at all?
Like I said from the outset, I’d rather a basic system that works seamlessly, than a more complex one that doesn’t. We love so much about the Ignis, but its unreliable infotainment system isn’t at the top of the list – not by a long shot.
We do love the 6.2L/100km real world fuel usage around town though – very frugal.
Click on the photos tab for more images by Sam Venn.