Let us face it. Cars like the Ignis are the future and the compact crossover is something that will only blow up within the next few years. Everyone wants an SUV or atleast something that looks like one. The Ignis is then is a very important car and also one that is aimed at millennials (do not worry If you are not one, you can buy one too..) . Understandably Maruti has gone big with this car with a huge EDM concert at its launch and what not but beneath the hype, how good is the Ignis? We drove both the petrol and diesel to find out.
Yes, it does and that is what has always been the motive behind the designing of this vehicle. Maruti rather Suzuki since it is a global product, never wanted Ignis to look like any other regular hatchback and that is why they made it look different from others. The boxy shape adds to its rugged appeal and the all around black cladding, roof rails, high ground clearance makes sure it keeps on reminding that it has been inspired by the SUV styling. The Ignis has projector headlamps with LED DRLs at front with round shaped fog lamps placed in its bumper. The front grille looks stylish especially the way the headlamps merge however the rear in contrast is boxy and is unique though.
Move to the side and it sports a thick D-pillar which is one styling USP of this car. The rear profile is also unique with a slanted rear glass and wide rear bumper. The car stands at 3700mm in length, 1690mm in width and has a wheelbase of 2435mm. The Ignis has 15-inch wheels with a high ground clearance of 180mm which as you will read later makes sense for our Indian roads. Overall this is one of those polarising designs but its interesting and well done if you ask us plus there is a whole host of personalisation options which makes the Ignis even funkier.
What about the interiors?
More than the exteriors, the interiors impressed me more. The funky design and various colours along with a variety shapes means it is an interior which is probably the most busy looking one done by Maruti Suzuki but it all blends in well and goes perfectly the character of the car. Plus you can get some bits painted in the exterior colour as well plus do not miss the progressive triad triple stripes inside just like on the exterior!
Another change is that a lot less has been raided from other Maruti cars parts bin with a more distinctive look. The steering wheel, dash with the unique tablet like touchscreen plus those toggle switches are all unique. Speaking of which the AMT model does not come in the top-end Alpha trim hence loses some features like the touchscreen and the toggle switches, climate control etc (each variant explained here). Quality is also a big change and the top-end Alpha variant really impressed with overall switchgear quality being among the best we have seen on a Maruti and also at this price.
I see, space and features?
Good news here too as while the Ignis is quite compact, the boxy proportions liberate tonnes of space inside. Yes while three at the back could be a tight affair, headroom and legroom both at the front and back is superb considering the size. Seats themselves are comfy plus there are enough storage places while the 260l boot is ample as well.
Maruti has not been stingy with the features too and especially the mid level Zeta variant is well equipped (steering controls, push button start/stop, Bluetooth, electronic folding ORVM) while the top-spec Alpha gets the LED Projector headlamps with DRLs, Smart Play infotainment system, drivers seat height adjust, Suzuki remote app etc.
How does it drive?
Considering the wide array of choices (1.2P- 83 bhp/113Nm 1.3D- 74 bhp/190Nm) , Maruti had planned two drives. First was a night drive drive through Chennai and for that I had the diesel AMT- perfect. First impressions really surprised me as at low speeds there were hardly any of the famous AMT quirks there to greet me. Small throttle inputs were responded by well and at low speeds the AMT works very well. A far cry from the earlier AMTs, Maruti has tweaked this heavily and smoothened it out which shows. For stop-go traffic you do not get a lot of the jerks and for an AMT you cannot get better than this. There is not much lag as compared to the manual diesel also.
Other things I noticed was how easy the Ignis is to drive. The driving position is terrific and so is the tight turning circle which means placing it in narrow gaps is easier along with the light steering. Within minutes I was loving the drive and darting in and out of traffic. The key to driving an AMT is not with a heavy foot as you need constant light throttle inputs. Anyways with a traffic free road in front of me, when pushed hard there was the distinct AMT pause and you ca drive manually which cures it to some extent.
Next day I had the petrol AMT and immediately it felt more urgent than the diesel amt. At low speeds, shifts were smooth and it responded well quickly. The engine is a gem and compared to the diesel quite refined too. Next came the manuals. The diesel manual first and the 5-speed manual is slick but the clutch came across a bit weighty. As said earlier the AMT hides lag better than the manual but the manual is more enjoyable with its strong punchy mid-range. The strong torque of the diesel gives it the legs to do big speeds and the Ignis went up without a glitch. Other things we noticed that the steering which is still too light at high speeds, had more feel and weight in the diesel. Oh high speed stability and brakes all get good marks from us also.
Finally I snagged a drive in the petrol manual and it is the most fun to drive Ignis. As we all know, this 1.2 petrol motor is a brilliant engine-efficient and fun. It likes revs and the slick 5-speed manual was a joy to use. Compared to the diesel manual, the petrol manual felt lighter and easier to drive not to mention more entertaining. On the subject of efficiency all the official figures for the manual/AMT are the same (20.89 kmpl for petrol and 26.80 kmpl for diesel).
For me the Ignis is now among my favourite Maruti cars along with the Baleno. The Ignis is an interesting car that goes beyond the traditional Maruti values that dictate sales. In a nutshell you will not buy this car just for its efficiency or large service network of Maruti, no the funky styling, features along with its unique appeal go beyond that. For me the quality, design and the AMTs stand out. Yes the manual is more fun but the 2 hour commute back from Gurugram is not hence we recommend the AMT easily here. In terms of engines the petrol gets our vote being a fantastic engine. Overall the Ignis again shows that Maruti Suzuki understands the Indian car buyer better than any one else. Do not be surprised if this is again a top 10 hit from Maruti..
More Ignis coverage here
Photography- Somnath Chatterjee