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Maruti Suzuki Ignis Review
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Maruti Suzuki Ignis Review

By Sirish Chandran

Published on :
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Review


I think I’m getting old. No, scratch that, I’m definitely getting old. I didn’t know who DJ Axwell was. I didn’t know that millennials are now a market segment all by themselves with enough purchasing power (or leverage over their dads) for manufacturers to train their gun sights on. I got up and got some dinner when a Japanese DJ and French artist hit us assembled journos with a supposedly world-renowned and very blistering light and sound show. And EDM gives me a headache.
If ever there was a car to make the existing automotive journalist fraternity feel old it is the Ignis. And right there you have the unique selling point of Maruti’s tenth small car, if you include the Brezza in the list. With this car it is all about the youth, kids who think I’m mad to skip the Ignis’ national launch because it was headlined by DJ Axwell; kids who, apparently, have not lacked for anything in their (short) lives. At the risk of giving away the verdict of this drive review this is also a car that I happen to like very much.
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Review
 
Doesn’t Maruti have a design language?
Not by the look of things! Stand the old Swift against the Baleno and Ignis, throw in the Alto, Celerio and Brezza, even the Ciaz, and there’s nothing cohesive about them; there’s no family lineage showing through. I’m definitely not a fan of what Audi and now Merc and BMW are doing, making all their cars look identical, but this is the other extreme.
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Review
That said doesn’t the Ignis look fabulous? This is my personal opinion, you might hate it, but that again is a key USP of the Ignis – it’s a car that you either love or hate, there’s no in between. All cars today are very well styled but even in that lot, the Ignis comes across as a refreshing breath of fresh air. It’s cool and funky. There’s no need for the three slashes on the thick C-pillar but it’s there all the same and it looks cool (also harks back to the Cervo small car that Suzuki made in the seventies – the only family link I could find). The LED DRLs endow it with a unique and rather fetching visual signature, complimented by the LED projector lamps. Then there’s the urban-SUV stance courtesy the high ground clearance, tall roof, flared wheel arches, blacked-out alloy wheels and even the clamshell kind of design on the bonnet. Many of my peers didn’t like the rear styling but I find myself taken in by that also, even the gaping mouth carved into the rear bumper. Whatever you might think about the Ignis, you can’t get away from the fact that it is funky as hell.
 
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Review
The insides
Now here you will be able to trace the Suzuki lineage, thanks to common switchgear but even then, by Maruti’s usual standards, this is a very unique cabin. That exterior funkiness carries over to the interior with body color-coded inserts around the gear lever and door pulls. The dash is this unique black-and-white two-tone scheme that looks really nice, the infotainment (the Baleno/Brezza touchscreen) is now mounted like an iPad in the same fashion as new Mercs and BMWs and the instrumentation lighting is supposed to be inspired by EDM. It didn’t give me a headache so I can’t verify the latter claim.
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Review
Space inside is also remarkable for a car that is only 3.7 meters long. There’s enough and more room up front and because the driver’s seat is high set, ingress/egress is very good, the visibility is pseudo-SUV and the driving position is so good I didn’t complain too much about the lack of telescopic adjustability for the steering. Even back seat passengers have enough knee room with the seat adjusted to my driving position, only three abreast will be a squeeze.
Links to the Baleno
The Ignis is based on the same 5th generation platform as the Baleno but with all the dimensions and hard points being different, what’s common is only the philosophy particularly on crash safety and the load paths. Another common trait is lightweight. The petrol Ignis weighs just 835kg and for a benchmark, the equivalent Baleno is 865kg while the current Swift is 935kg. 
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Review
Nippy and nimble
I first drove the petrol manual Ignis and the first time I floored it I was startled. Okay this isn’t a 200bhp hot hatch but for a little 1.2-litre 82bhp petrol, the Ignis has a remarkably zippy nature with wheelspin easily available and sprightly initial turn of speed to jump in front of all the traffic at the lights. It is also a very refined motor, inaudible at tick over, and with a nice note when revved. In fact it is a perfect accompaniment to the Ignis – a zippy motor in a light car makes for a genuinely fun city commuter. And the gearbox is excellent with slick short throws and a very precise operation.
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Review
Good road manners
The Ignis can do 140 clicks on the highway but at that speed the engine is strained and approaching its limits. However the chassis has composure and the Ignis isn’t all over the place displaying quite competent road manners.
What is surprising – or maybe it shouldn’t be considering the high ground clearance – is that the ride quality is quite good, a fair bit better than the Baleno that crashes into potholes and ruts. The better road manners along with the higher seating position and a cabin that feels more airy (though the Baleno is more spacious for rear seat passengers) makes the Ignis a much nicer car to drive on the daily commute, better than the Baleno too.
What is a straight giveaway of the platform’s Baleno roots is the steering that is the biggest let down in the dynamic repertoire with absolutely no feel through the vague helm and the lack of a strong self-centring.
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Review
 
And then there’s the AMT
Or AGS, Auto Gear System, as Maruti calls it. The principle is the same as any AMT, it’s a manual gear box with an electronic controller operating the clutch and the gear shifting, just the names are different. Up until now all AMT gearboxes overloaded you with head toss, that break in momentum as the ’box lazily shifted gears and your head rocked back and forth but the Ignis’ gearbox is so much better than what we’ve come to expect. C V Raman, Maruti’s head of engineering, said this is because of the improved torque (compared to the Celerio’s three-pot engine) and also an overall improvement and refinement of the shift action. Sure a regular automatic, or even a CVT, operates far more smoothly but with the Ignis you can now recommend an AMT without a long list of buts. It, of course, works better if you learn to drive it – lifting off the gas slightly when you want an upshift to make it smooth, planning an overtake and going into a lower gear well in advance, using the manual mode when you are in a real rush. But on the upside there is fuel efficiency that is the same as the manual – a claimed 20.8kmpl for the petrol and 26.8kmpl for the diesel. And the auto blip function on downshifts does tickle the enthusiast in you – ask for an aggressive downshift and the electronic brain heel-toes to rev-match!
The diesel
It’s the same tried, test and much-loved 1.3-litre DDiS (or Multijet as Fiat calls it) that makes 74bhp and 190Nm of torque. And it works in the same fashion as we’ve come to expect in the Swift, Baleno, Brezza et all – peppy acceleration, good flexibility, enough grunt to keep up a good pace on the highway. It is audibly a diesel but not too noisy as to be a bother and there’s that excellent fuel economy to count on. Plus, with the Ignis, the diesel also gets the AMT (or AGS) gearbox making that another USP of the car. What other hatchback (not compact sedan) has a diesel automatic? Ummm … nothing!
 
Safety
Full marks to Maruti – the Ignis will be available with twin airbags as standard along with ABS. And also Isofix connectors for easy mounting of a child seat.
Buy, don’t buy?
Buy! The Ignis is not cheap and isn’t being positioned as a cheap hatchback, being retailed through Maruti’s upmarket Nexa network. Don’t get me wrong, the Ignis isn’t overpriced or anything like that – the reason why pricing isn’t the main draw of the Ignis is because it does so many other things right. It looks awesome (to my eyes at least), has funky interiors, the ride is good, the engines are peppy and the automatic cures most of the ills of previous AMTs. I’d enthusiastically recommend the automatic if not for the fact that you cannot have the automatic in the fully-loaded trim level – which means automatic buyers will have to do without the touchscreen, saddled instead with an ungainly infotainment system that has a forest of buttons sticking in your face. Worse you don’t get the LED DRLs that is a style signature that you just cannot do without. And the regular headlamps aren’t powerful enough as we found out while driving around Chennai at night trying to avoid jallikattu protesters. Of course there will be demand for it and of course Maruti will not be able to ignore that demand and will bring a full-loaded automatic, but why not now?
That aside the Ignis really is lovely and if I were to buy a small car today I’d have a petrol manual Ignis. Despite the fact that I’m not an EDM enthusiast.
 
evo India rating: 4.5/5
Specification:

Petrol VVT

Power82bhp @6000rpm
Torque113Nm @4200rpm
Transmission 5-speed manual and AMT
Displacement1197cc
Cylinder4-cylinder

Diesel DDiS

Power74bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque190Nm @2000rpm
Transmission5-speed manual and AMT
Displacement1248cc
Cylinder 4-cylinder

Variant

Sigma

DeltaZeta

Alpha

Fuel

PetrolPetrol/DieselPetrol/Diesel

Petrol/Diesel

Transmission

MTMT/AMTMT/AMT

MT

Features

Exterior

LED projectors

Y

DRLs

Y

Puddle lamps

Y

Chrome grille

Y

Y

ORVM indicators

YY

Y

Interior

Tachometer

YY

Y

AC vent chrome bezel

YY

Y

Entertainment

Audio/FM

YY

Smart Play

Y

Bluetooth/USB

YY

Y

Speakers

24

4

Steering mounted controls

YY

Y

Suzuki SLDA remote app

Y

Convenience

Push Start/Stop

Y

Y

Keyless entry

YY

Y

Climate control

Y

Electrically foldable ORVMs

Y

Y

Driver’s seat height adjustment

Y

60:40 rear seat split

YY

Y

Safety

Rear parking sensor

Y

Y

Rear parking camera

Y

Rear wiper

Y

Y

Lane change indicator

YYY

Y

ABS+EBD

YYY

Y

Dual front airbags

YYY

Y

Prices (ex-Delhi)

Petrol

Rs. 4.59 lakhRs. 5.19 lakhRs. 5.75 lakhRs. 6.69 lakh

Diesel

Rs. 6.39 lakhRs. 6.91 lakh

Rs. 7.80 lakh

Petrol AMT

Rs. 5.74 lakh

Rs. 6.30 lakh

Diesel AMTRs. 6.94 lakh

Rs. 7.46 lakh