There’s something about the Ignis, isn’t it? Just look at it and I bet you can’t peel your eyes away. To think of it, not many cars command attention in the small car space in a way similar to the Ignis. I may belong to the far end of the ‘Millennials’ age group unlike Rahul, but the Ignis definitely got my attention. Going through the first drive review in the issue got me thinking. Would an AMT-equipped petrol Ignis make sense for an absolute city slicker like me?
Design and equipment
I like the way the Ignis looks, period. Cars with a certain degree of character have always held special interest in my heart and the Ignis packs oodles of it. From the bold and in your face front end to the quirky yet unique backside, the Ignis screams appeal. The wheels, which are pushed to the edges, give it a stance that quite resembles one of my favourite cars, the Mini Cooper S. Let’s just say that the overall design hints that the Ignis has a fun character, tinged with a little bit of mischief. Now, isn’t that what adds some spice to life, eh?
The interior layout is also in keeping with the exterior design. Maruti has cleverly used black and off-white interiors to enhance the sense of space in the cabin. That said, the lower portion of the dash and the door pads are prone to getting soiled too easily and it’ll be quite a task to keep these clean. The plastic quality too in these areas feels like its from the budget end of the parts bin.
The Ignis AMT is available in the Delta and Zeta variants only. The latter is what you see here and it loses out on goodies such as LED headlamps, DRLs, a touchscreen infotainment system, climate control and the cool toggle switches on the centre console that you get in the top-end Alpha variant. I also have a gripe with the music system in the Zeta variant. The sound output is average; the speakers seem like they are from a car in the ‘90s. An aftermarket system, hence, is highly recommended.
Cabin space, as Rahul rightly pointed, is adequate to seat four adults only, so let the ‘based on the Baleno platform’ sales pitch not fool you into believing you’ll have space equal to that car. What you do get, however is generous knee and head room at the rear. The front seats are pretty comfortable and the generous bolstering offers great support, which I think is great for a reason that I’ll come to later.
Engine and performance
The familiar 1.2-litre Suzuki K-Series petrol motor in the Ignis is a gem. Refined and rev-happy, the motor is the kind that gets petrol heads raving and looking down upon those who swear by oil burners. The engine produces 83PS and 113Nm and is mated to a 5-speed AMT, sourced from Magneti Marelli. I clearly remember driving the Maruti Suzuki Celerio with a similar AMT transmission and tearing my hair out for its unresponsive nature.
Maruti, however, seems to have learnt a lesson and the programming in the Ignis’ AMT is remarkably good. Leave it in Drive mode and the shift points change with respect to the throttle position. Keep a light foot and the transmission shifts to the next cog at 2,000rpm and before you know it, you’ll find yourself in top gear as soon as the speedo crosses 50kmph. Unlike the Celerio’s AMT box, the Ignis’ system shifts quickly in-between gears which makes the Ignis far easier and predictable to drive. The typical AMT pause in between shifts is present; however, it’s not annoying or bothersome like some of the AMTs in the market. I remember driving a few AMT cars that required a lot more planning to overtake than ISRO requires to launch a satellite.
The Ignis’ gearbox shifts right when you want it to and keeps the car in the meat of its power band. Pulling quick overtakes is easy too as the gearbox is quick to kick down to a lower gear as soon as you step on the throttle.
What I also found addictive is the sweet engine note, especially close to the redline. It sounds sporty and in sync with the nature of the car.
The Ignis feels quick when you go pedal to the metal, and we recorded a 0-100kmph time of 13.6 seconds when we let the computer decide when to shift up. That figure drops by a whole second when you shift using the manual mode. And since this is a Maruti Suzuki, the obvious question is what’s the fuel efficiency like? Considering the 860kg kerb weight, the Ignis delivered 13.2kmpl in the city and 20.5kmpl on the highway, which again will keep pockets happy.
Ride and handling
The suspension in the Ignis is set up to offer a firm ride. This causes you to feel bumps and potholes at low speeds; however, ride quality does improve as speeds rise. That said, driving over sharp potholes causes the suspension to protest with a loud thud which is quite disconcerting.
After driving over a fairly bad stretch of tarmac, I was left wondering why Maruti chose such a firm set-up and the answer to that was revealed as soon as I encountered a set of corners. The Ignis is quite enjoyable around a bend; however, there is a hint of body roll that you need to get past. The front end has ample of grip to pull the car into a corner and there’s only a hint of understeer when you are at the limit.
Turn in is quick and precise for the car’s dimensions and mid corner bumps do not unsettle the car. The manual mode also makes it involving to drive with the rallycar-like shift pattern further enhancing the experience.
What robs the Ignis petrol AMT of earning the tag of a driver’s car though is the disconnected steering. While it’s light and easy in the city, it does not weigh up as much as you’d want with increase in speed. Better feedback in corners would have certainly upped the fun quotient that this car offers otherwise .
The Ignis petrol AMT ticks the boxes for those who want a car that’s fresh and unique as well as packs in the convenience of an automated transmission. At Rs 7.59 lakh (on-road Mumbai), the Ignis AMT is packed with decent equipment, including dual airbags and ABS that’s standard. On top of that is the unmissable character of the car – it’s tough beating that now.