By Mike Torpey on 2023-11-19 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Suzuki Ignis Hybrid
1.2 SZ5 ALLGRIP
SMALL car specialist Suzuki certainly lit the blue-touch paper when the Japanese brand updated its signature city car the Ignis.
The word Ignis means fire in Latin and while this smallest model in the company's line-up will never burn up any drag strips it remains a little firecracker in every other sense.
Looking more like a compact crossover than a city car it's a vehicle geared towards practicality courtesy of common sense design and a value for money price tag.
Up for grabs in the two trim grades of SZ-T and SZ5, all models feature the same 1.2-litre, four-cylinder Dualjet petrol engine with mild hybrid technology to boost the car's already impressive fuel consumption.
It's mated to a five-speed manual transmission, though a CVT auto gearbox is available as an option, and you can also specify the brand's ALLGRIP four-wheel drive set-up - which is unusual among small SUVs.
But it's the combination of chunky profile and practical interior that really give the Ignis an edge over its rivals - like the Kia Picanto, Toyota Aygo and Fiat 500 - and make it an attractive as well as affordable small car choice.
What you get with the Ignis is a comfortable, functional, simply laid-out compact crossover with robust and durable fabric seats.
There's plenty of room up front plus adequate space for a pair of adults in rear and the front seat backs are also scooped out for added knee-room - and because the back seats are wide there's also good elbow-room.
Another bonus is that those rear seats slide back and forth, giving you the choice of more leg-room or better boot space, and of course they also split/fold 50-50 to open up a maximum capacity of 490 litres.
As for stowage, there's a bottle holder in each rear door, a large cup/mug holder sensibly placed behind the handbrake, which can be used by any of the passengers plus a pair of cup holders ahead of the gearshift. You also get door bins with a bottle holder in each one plus a glovebox.
The driving position is adjustable, making for a raised view if desired and you also get a rear-view camera as standard along with LED headlamps, roof rails and flared wheel arches.
Out on the road the little Suzuki's 1.2-litre engine may only develop 83bhp but it still feels quite lively, helped no doubt by the mild hybrid system, even if you really struggle when heading uphill.
It's also very agile and well balanced and you can make pretty good progress on faster roads too, though the combination of road and engine noise at speed means you need to have the radio or streamed sounds at quite a high level.
Our SZ5 variant came with the company's ALLGRIP fully automatic and permanent four-wheel drive set-up. It adds Â£1,000 to the tab but is well worth the outlay, especially if you live in a rural area and have to contend with rough terrain or muddy fields.
The system also includes Hill Descent Control and something called Grip Control which activates on slippery surfaces at speed of less than 18mph.
Opting for SZ5 also brings in the likes of sat nav, auto air conditioning and cruise control and all models get a seven-inch colour touchscreen infotainment set-up with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, DAB radio, 16-inch alloy wheels, Lane Departure Warning and Weaving Alert.
Suzuki's economy claim is that you can get an average 52.4 miles per gallon from this Ignis model and our own return over 300 miles - including a trip to Snowdonia - was impressive at exactly 50mpg.
Suzuki Ignis Hybrid 1.2 SZ5 ALLGRIP
Mechanical:83bhp, 1,197cc 4-cyl petrol engine plus 12V hybrid system driving four wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
0-62mph: 12.8 seconds
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