Suzuki Ignis 2017 glx

2017 Suzuki Ignis GLX auto long-term review, report five: engine, gearbox and efficiency

$12,210 $14,520 Dealer
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Five months with a car in your personal garage pretty much tells you everything you need to know about its foibles and individual characteristics. That’s even more the case when the vehicle in question encourages you to drive it as often as we drove the 2017 Suzuki Ignis GLX – as I’ve written in previous updates, my partner and I tend to favour the Ignis above just about every other test vehicle.

You’ve read our previous update where I waxed lyrical about the Ignis’ practicality around town, and we’ve also covered its – somewhat surprising – usefulness as a longer haul country cruiser. We certainly didn’t expect that when we ‘took ownership’ five months back.

The crucial elements that make the Ignis so enjoyable to drive then, aren’t so much the physical dimensions and turning circle, but the engine and gearbox, and the efficiency of that pairing.

Around town, or on the open road, the engine and gearbox have proven to be more capable, and more enjoyable than we ever expected. Before we get to the mechanicals though, there is one around town negative – the blind-spot at rear three-quarter when you look over your shoulder as the driver. This is more of an issue for shorter drivers but it is still a factor for tall drivers until you get used to it.

Look at the pure numbers alone and you could be forgiven for making the mistake the Ignis is underpowered and underwhelming. The reality, as we’ve found with many small engines of late, is a fair bit different. And while we can’t argue the case for the Ignis to be your only car if you want something larger, if you’ve got something silly in the garage like we usually do, the Ignis is the perfect ‘second-car’ foil.

The naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine clocks in at only 1200cc, 100cc smaller than the legendary Suzuki Swift we all remember so well from the early ’90s – and we thought that engine was small.

We love the quirky appeal of a three-cylinder engine too, but the four-cylinder beneath the Ignis’ stubby bonnet has an appeal all its own. Makes my 1700cc motorcycle feel like a big block...

The 1.2-litre engine makes 66kW at 6000rpm and 120Nm at 4400rpm. The base model weighs in at 820kg and our GLX tips the scales at just 865kg, meaning there isn’t a lot of heft to move in the real world. As Mike Costello noted in his launch review, the Ignis is even lighter than an old Alto.

We’ve found that around town, you’ll hardly ever see the live fuel use move above 6.2L/100km, while prolonged highway runs see it drop quickly to six even, and then as low as 5.7L/100km after some pure highway driving. The little four-cylinder will hold 2000rpm at 100km/h on a flat stretch meaning it isn’t working too hard if you do use the freeway often.

Crucially, it possesses enough grunt to maintain 100-110km/h uphill without too much strain, or to execute a roll-on overtaking manoeuvre on a country road. Don’t underestimate its practicality if you are the kind of buyer who spends a bit of time in the country.

Around town then, you’ll eke 500km out of a tank (as we did more than once) between fills meaning you aren’t faced with constant visits to the petrol station either.

We've found the engine to be smooth and quiet under all normal driving circumstances and it’s even pretty refined at start up when cold. Some engines can sound pretty gruff until they warm up properly, but the Ignis’ four-cylinder isn’t one of them.

I’m a vocal opponent of CVTs and I make that point again here. However, the unit backing the Ignis engine is actually pretty good. It can still lead to that fizzing, slipping clutch sound (not so good) that we associate with almost all CVTs, but it aids fuel economy (good) and is for the most part pretty unobtrusive. It certainly doesn’t detract from the strong points of the driving experience, and does in fact, gel well with the relaxed nature of the Suzuki’s city runaround appeal.

Five months in, and we’re no more enamoured with having to say goodbye to the Suzuki Ignis than we were after a month of ownership. It really is an excellent city runaround that rewards in ways you weren’t expecting. Its happy go lucky styling ensures everyone seems to like it too. We sound like a broken record but the pricing simply sweetens the deal.