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!
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!
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
|Transmission ||5-speed manual and AMT|
|Power||74bhp @ 4000rpm|
|Transmission||5-speed manual and AMT|