Small Suzuki

perfectly formed

Suzuki Ignis, side action
Suzuki Ignis, 2017, side action
Suzuki Ignis, front action
Suzuki Ignis, rear action
Suzuki Ignis, dashboard 2
Suzuki Ignis, headlights on
Suzuki Ignis, speedometer
Suzuki Ignis, dashboard
Suzuki Ignis, lifestyle
Suzuki Ignis, lifestyle 2
Suzuki Ignis, rear seats
Suzuki Ignis, boot

SHOULD you find yourself at a motor dealers' convention (lucky you), the people with the widest grins might well be selling new Suzukis.

Last year UK new car sales hit a record high overall and so did Suzuki, with more than 38,000 leaving their showrooms.

That's good, but better - much better - is the 59 per cent hike in profits made by the dealers selling them.

Think of that as a pay rise so big you start to dream about holiday homes near a sunny golf course or that round the world cruise you've been promising yourself when things turned better.

And now comes a new Suzuki so on trend with what the car market demands right now that the lucky dealers might already be mentally upgrading their cruise cabins to commodore status.

The Ignis is a small family hatch disguised with hints of beefy off-roader, or what the trade calls a crossover. And car buyers can't get enough of this style at the moment, witnessed by an avalanche of new models.

Building it a bit taller than normal means more room inside, especially in the back, where a six-footer can sit comfortably behind his twin brother. There can't be a more spacious car on the market that fills the modest shadow cast by the Ignis.

As well as presenting as a crossover, the Ignis approaches that other holy grail of current car design - lightness. In its most basic form the car turns a featherweight 810kg on the scales, with predictably good results on the economy front.

All five versions of the Ignis, with prices from £9,999 for the SZ3, use the same 1.2 litre 90 horsepower petrol engine, although a couple are available with a modest boost from a small generator helping the car during acceleration.

The extra battery sits under the front passenger seat and this SHVS version (from £12,999) cuts the CO2 figure from 104g/km to 97g/km and hikes the official average fuel consumption from 61.4mpg to 65.7mpg.

You can have a semi-automatic Ignis, with an electric motor working the clutch, for an extra £800 and there's a top version, costing £13,999 and combining the small electric boost with a part-time 4x4 system aimed at the sort of Suzuki owner who lives down a country lane and needs to get to work on a snowy morning.

Every Ignis gets air conditioning, DAB radio with Bluetooth and front electric windows. They won't sell many of those, with likely most popular Ignis the next grade up.

This £11,499 SZ-T adds satellite navigation, rear view camera, alloy wheels, roof rails and plastic wheel arch extensions and LED headlamps. It also has twin rear seats that can slide forward to boost boot room, or back to let the lanky of leg relax.

The SZ5 (£12,999) adds dual air conditioning, keyless entry and start and rear electric windows. It is also fitted with camera brake support that spots a vehicle or people in the road ahead and will brake for you if necessary.

This system brings a top five star safety rating in the European tests, without it the Ignis scores a less impressive three stars.

But back to what's likely to attract a buyer to an Ignis in the first place, those looks. For maximum effect you'll need another £465 for metallic paint, or £650 for contrasting metallic black on the roof. Meanly, there is only one no-cost paint finish, a bold red.

The interior is at least as striking as the bodywork outside. It's obviously built down to a cost but attention to detail in matching surfaces and keeping panel gaps tight in these Japanese built machines is pleasingly obvious.

Out on the road in an SZ-T version the lightness of this newcomer translates into a car that feels livelier than you might expect from its unspectacular power output. There's a nimble way it reacts to steering input too, making the Ignis feel keen to please in the manner of an enthusiastic puppy.

Driven with some verve it showed 57mpg on the handsomely readable instrument panel; lifting off a bit had the numbers climbing to 61.7mpg. That's better than Suzuki showed in the official test - which makes it an event as rare as a television talent show host becoming president of the United States.

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