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In an increasingly digital world, it’s rather refreshing to come across something as analogue as the Suzuki Ignis.
Not that it’s lacking in modern conveniences: there’s everything from keyless entry to lane-departure warning, variable valve timing to hill descent control on this top-spec AllGrip.
There’s even a partial hybrid powertrain, which harvests energy under braking into a battery and deploys it to boost acceleration.
Yet the driving experience is reassuringly old-school, making you feel entirely connected – you are a piece of the machinery rather than a distant puppeteer.
There’s not a lot of power from the high compression K12C engine, but that doesn’t really matter because the tiddly Ignis merely brushes the scales at a flyweight 920kg, and using the slightly notchy five-speed gearbox to wring all 89bhp out of the zingy twin-cam ‘four’ is great fun.
There’s not a lot of grip from the skinny 16in wheels, either, but there’s too much body roll to try to do anything particularly heroic.
The steering has a surprising amount of feedback compared to most modern powered systems, making the Suzuki a hugely involving companion on a country road.
And how about that bouncy ride for a throwback to the past? Take a peer under the back and you’ll discover that, yes, that is indeed a live axle sending drive to the rear wheels on this 4x4 version.
You’ll find that pedestrians and other road users seem to take to it as well.
They likely won’t realise that the three faux vents on the rear pillars are a nod to the SC100 ‘Whizzkid’, Suzuki’s first passenger car in the UK, but the Ignis’ super-cute pseudo-SUV styling and narrow, slightly knock-kneed stance rarely fail to raise a smile.
There’s delight to be found from its frugality, too. Even this all-bells-and-whistles SZ5 model comes in at less than £17,000, and you can hit the road in one for an awful lot less than that (about £11k if you shop around).
Amazingly, in a world where manufacturers’ fuel-consumption claims are in most cases works of nonsense to rival Edward Lear, we even managed to top 50mpg with ease, despite spending most of our time enjoying the eager powertrain to the full.
Inside, it’s upright and simple to the point of spartan, yet also bright, comfortable and remarkably spacious for a car that measures just 3.7m from stem to stern.
But pick up a burly passenger and you’ll certainly notice that it’s a whisker less than 1.7m wide, and the payoff for the reasonable rear legroom is a tiny boot.
It might struggle to better 100mph, and is very much on the noisy side of raucous on its way to getting there, yet this is a car that always makes you giggle, even at low speeds.
On today’s performance-obsessed yet horribly congested roads, that’s an underrated commodity.
Images: Will Williams
- Engine dohc 1242cc 16v ‘four’; 89bhp @ 6000rpm; 88lb ft @ 4400rpm
- Transmission five-speed manual, AWD
- 0-62mph 11.5 secs
- Top speed 103mph
- Mpg 48.6
- Price £16,749