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Driven: Suzuki Ignis Hybrid Allgrip 2020MY. Image by Suzuki UK.

Driven: Suzuki Ignis Hybrid Allgrip 2020MY
Itís another hybrid system thatís mild to the point of being shockingly introverted, but the cheeky and updated Ignis is worth a look.

   



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Suzuki Ignis Hybrid SZ5 Allgrip 2020MY

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Good points: superb styling, pleasant cabin, light vehicle weight, great value for money, equipment

Not so good: wayward handling, feels twitchy, hybrid system not the most involved set-up in the world

Key Facts

Model tested: Suzuki Ignis Hybrid SZ5 Allgrip manual
Price: Ignis range from £14,499; SZ5 from £16,999, Allgrip from £17,999, car as tested £18,649 (see copy for further details on current deals)
Engine: 1.2-litre four-cylinder Dualjet K12D petrol with 12-volt mild-hybrid electrical system powered by 10Ah lithium-ion battery
Transmission: five-speed manual, Allgrip fully automatic and permanent all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door mild-hybrid micro-SUV
CO2 emissions: 123g/km (VED Band 111-130: £180 in year one, then £155 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 51.9mpg
Top speed: 103mph
0-62mph: 12.8 seconds
Power: 83hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 107Nm at 2,800rpm
Boot space: 204-1,086 litres

Our view:

After Covid Lockdown One of 2020 unexpectedly left us with a Honda CR-V for three months, the often-overlooked sequel in late autumn of the same year (which was subsequently overshadowed by Covid Lockdown Three, the one that bled all the way into 2021) resulted in us holding onto this facelifted Suzuki Ignis Hybrid SZ5 Allgrip for almost five weeks when it was only supposed to be in our care for seven days. Anyhow, during this extended holiday in the Midlands, it proved - like the Honda did - to be a charming and surprisingly effective companion. Albeit with a few caveats.

For the 2020MY, Suzuki updated the Ignis following its 2017 launch with a very mild programme of changes. Visually, the world's smallest SUV was made to look more SUV-ish with revised bumpers being the single biggest alteration - where it previously had a fairly car-like lower-front airdam and then a large, horizontal black plastic bar at the back, now it has sizeable silver trapezoidal shapes at either end of the vehicle to give more of an impression of ruggedness. Above the resculpted front bumper, the Ignis' cute little face also receives a five-bar Suzuki grille, rather than employing the mesh affair it had previously, and as with any self-respecting midlife model-tweakery, the Japanese company took the opportunity to introduce three new colours to the optional palette. One of them is the Tough Khaki Pearlescent with a Black Roof (+£650) you can see in the pictures. We think it suits the little Suzuki, albeit others will question why you went for such a shade of brown in the first place. To each their own.

Inside, precious little has changed, although new Lazuli Medium Blue Pearl or Medium Grey Metallic trim accents are drafted in and matched to blue or grey seat upholsteries accordingly. There's a subtly redesigned instrument panel with a new meter cluster in easy-to-read black and white, but otherwise the Suzuki's simplistic yet appealing cabin is retained. Naturally, some of the materials used feel budget and the infotainment system doesn't strike you as anything particularly cutting edge, but the Ignis is surprisingly spacious in the back. Even if a 204-litre boot is rather feeble, so that you won't get much shopping in the rear of this teeny SUV.

Equipment levels continue to impress, mind. Suzuki still sells the Ignis in three trims, which are the SZ3, the SZ-T and then the SZ5 (and no, we've got no idea why the middle one of these isn't the 'SZ4', either). The first comes with air-conditioning, six airbags, LED headlights and daytime running lights, privacy glass, a DAB radio and Bluetooth, among more. The SZ-T adds individually sliding rear seats, a rear-view camera, extra body styling (wheel-arch extensions, side mouldings and roof rails), 16-inch alloy wheels, and the Smartphone Link Display infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. SZ5, as tested here, changes the manual air-con for automatic climate control, cobs satnav into the dashboard display, and then further adds cruise control, keyless entry and go, indicators in the mirrors and Suzuki's Dual Camera Brake Support (DCBS) safety gear, which further enables both Lane Departure Warning and Weaving Alert.

The price for all of these models is highly competitive too. The SZ3 kicks off at £14,499, the SZ-T at £15,999 and the SZ5 from £16,999. Now that the Ignis' own stablemate, the magnificent Jimny, has bit the dust because it fell foul of European emissions regs, you're not going to get into a 'proper' four-wheel-drive vehicle for less cash unless you buy used. And Suzuki, at the time of writing, makes the Ignis even more tempting with £2,000 off as a customer saving - so even with the metallic paint at 650 notes and the £1,000 Allgrip AWD option (only available on the SZ5 manual; there's also a CVT automatic choice for £1,000 on SZ-T and SZ5 cars, but it cannot be paired with Allgrip), our top-spec test car would only set you back £16,649.

Beyond all this financial goodness and incredible VFM, what you won't see with the revised Ignis is that Suzuki has added more sound-absorbing materials around the passenger compartment, while it has also had a fiddle with the 12-volt hybrid drivetrain. Ah yes, the hybrid drivetrain. Now this is a 'mild' hybrid and we really, really must stress the mild part of that as much as we can. It was fitted before on the old 1.2-litre engine with the codename K12C and the manufacturer called it Suzuki Hybrid Vehicle System (SHVS). Now, though, it is no longer called SHVS but simply 'Hybrid', and it is standard across the board on the 2020MY Ignis line, paired as it is to a new dual-injection four-cylinder petrol engine called the K12D.

Overall, this drivetrain develops modest outputs of 83hp and 107Nm because the four-pot motor lacks for a turbocharger. Weirdly enough, the old SHVS delivered 90hp and 120Nm from its 1.2, plus another 50Nm from its belt-driven Integrated Starter Generator (ISG), although Suzuki didn't claim 170Nm outright for the pre-facelift model. However, it's clear that the Ignis Hybrid 2020MY has lost, erm, some of the oomph it had previously. There's a saying in here somewhere involving rice puddings and skins, but we'll refrain from being unkind.

This loss of 'power' is despite the fact Suzuki has significantly increased the size of the lithium-ion battery for the 12-volt system, from 3Ah previously to 10Ah now. This power pack is still situated under the passenger seat and it is said the larger li-ion unit 'improves the energy-recuperation efficiency'. Which is a posh way of saying the Ignis' electrical gear can more often provide assistance to the engine during acceleration phases, while harvesting increased energy during deceleration and, therefore, making a greater combined fuel saving.

Noble stuff that we'd be impressed by, were it not for the fact the hybrid system is next-to-imperceptible in operation. To be fair to Suzuki, its idle-stop system more readily makes itself known just as the Ignis is rolling to a halt, without being like the utterly daft system in the Fiat 500 Hybrid that necessitates you getting the car out of gear for it to work, but even so (and presumably worried that you might just forget the electric bit of the SUV) the Japanese company still has to put a read-out in the cluster that politely reminds you how long the car has been battery-idling for and how much fuel it has saved in the process. We covered 804.6 miles in the Ignis SZ5 with 22 hours and 50 minutes at the wheel; it reckoned, in that time (and we drove it mostly on local A- and B-roads for shortish distances, because it was Covid Lockdown Two when we had it, remember), that it was idling for nine minutes and 22 seconds. And had saved us 70 miles of fuel in the process.

In all honesty, we view that last figure with a great degree of scepticism. The quoted economy on paper for this SZ5 Allgrip is 51.9mpg and using that to do a bit of hasty back-of-a-fag-packet maths, it would seem to suggest that the Ignis' K12D would drink 39.4 litres of fuel an hour, or 8.7 gallons, if left to idle unattended by the hybrid gear. Hmm. Really? Not so much a pinch of NaCl required there, but a whole blinkin' salt mine. For the record, it has a 32-litre petrol tank on it.

Nevertheless, that scarcely believable stat about fuel-saving doesn't detract from the truth that the Ignis recorded 53.7mpg during its lengthy time with us, so the Hybrid is clearly as frugal as the manufacturer claims in day-to-day running. Better yet, that 2.3kW ISG (3.1hp) still pushes 50Nm into the mix at times and the electrical stuff, modest as it is, only adds 6.2kg to the kerb weight of a trim little car that clocks in at just 940kg. Strip the Allgrip out and run an SZ5 as a front-driver, and you'll see 114g/km of CO2 (which doesn't change the Ignis' VED bracket, though) and 55.7mpg.

Otherwise, the Ignis is as it was before - an endearing little scamp that makes the most of its featherweight nature to maximise what little power it has. It's not quick, but with a slick five-speed manual gearbox, light but positive steering and well-judged brakes, you can at least maintain momentum to good effect on a winding country road, so that the Suzuki feels brisker than it is. Ride and refinement are fine, if not brilliant and that's true with us accounting for the Ignis' tiny frame and affordable nature to start with. For instance, you get more road roar than is strictly necessary, especially as this minuscule SUV rolls on tyres that are thinner than a Size Zero model who has been airbrushed without permission for a magazine cover shot. Also, we don't remember the Ignis feeling this skittish over bumps when we drove it back in 2017; its surprising stability was one of the reasons we were so impressed with it first time out.

However, the Suzuki Ignis, for all its wallflower hybrid gear and handful of compromises it foists upon you for its asking price, is something we'd heartily recommend. There's nothing else quite like it down at this level, and it proved itself perfectly amenable for use by a young (ahem, -ish) family over a lengthy period of time. It's not ever going to be the ideal motorway car and you'd probably not get far off-road in it, in spite of the Allgrip technology, but as a characterful runaround with interesting engineering sequestered away in its petite form, the Ignis certainly has a lot going for it. With two grand knocked off its asking price at the moment, even more going for it than usual, we'd argue.

Alternatives:

Dacia Sandero Stepway: if you want a cheap SUV-like machine, the high-riding Sandero is the natural alternative to the Ignis. It doesn't offer 4x4 or hybrid tech, but the Stepway has a charm of its own.

Fiat Panda Cross Hybrid: another micro-off-roader with a hybrid system that adds almost nothing to the party, although in the Fiat's case just getting it to operate is a colossal faff - which it isn't in the Suzuki.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid: a Japanese hybrid supermini that doesn't make any pretence to off-roader-dom, albeit a Yaris Cross is inbound, but this Toyota hatch is superb. If comparatively very, very pricey.


Matt Robinson - 8 Dec 2020



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2020 Suzuki Ignis Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2020 Suzuki Ignis Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2020 Suzuki Ignis Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2020 Suzuki Ignis Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2020 Suzuki Ignis Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.

2020 Suzuki Ignis Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2020 Suzuki Ignis Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2020 Suzuki Ignis Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2020 Suzuki Ignis Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.2020 Suzuki Ignis Hybrid UK test. Image by Suzuki UK.








 

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