The want by consumers in India for more features in a vehicle with an affordable price tag has been ever increasing. Not only has this triggered a new wave of car models launching with a host of features that entice a prospect, it has also stirred up a healthy competition amongst manufacturer. The Ignis from Maruti Suzuki is the latest example of how an affordable price tag can have a host of features. But, is it really value-for-money? Time to find out!
The first thing one would notice is the unconventional design language! The LED projector headlamps with a U-shaped LED Daytime Running Lamps will ask for a second glance. Mated to the black and chrome grille, the Suzuki logo, as well as the large front bumper give the compact crossover a front fascia that hasn't been usually seen on a Maruti Suzuki car, the Baleno and Ciaz being the exceptions here. Move to the side and there the 15-inch alloy wheel, available on the Zeta and Alpha trims with 175/65 section rubber add to the raised stance of the vehicle. The strong shoulder line with a large glass area clearly states that this is no conventional hatchback, but a compact crossover which cannot be missed. The only odd looking part (for some) in the Ignis is the three slats on the C-pillar.
The rear is where the company follows its simple design language, but with a dash of earthy design and the large tail lamps with the number plate housing, exude it. And it's not that the Ignis can be purchased in just a fixed set of exterior colours. The car can be customised according to each buyer's taste and Maruti Suzuki would do it, at an additional cost. So, no voiding warranty and you also give a unique character to your car.
Like the exteriors, the inside also gets a 'funky' treatment! The top-end Alpha trim we tested has exterior colour-coded door handles and centre console covers. Customers would also have the option of choosing if they want additional exterior colour covers on the space above the glovebox. The dashboard is a dual tone and nice to touch, especially when one compares it to the segment Ignis is slotted it. Plastic quality is good largely except for the rear view mirror and a few plastic bits in the central part of the dashboard. The toggle switches, automatic climate control, steering mounted audio and phone controls give the first row a cockpit feel, easy to operate as well as good to touch. However, the air vent between the steering wheel and the centre console keeps blowing air onto the driver's hand, irrespective of the direction it's turned towards. Since it cannot be closed either, the driver's left hand always remains cold. The touchscreen too is offset a bit due to this vent and isn't centrally on top of the centre console. The front seats are supportive and have good side bolstering as well for average sized adults and there is ample legroom, knee room and shoulder room for four occupants. Five adults would be a bit of a squeeze in the third row, however, it can be done for short trips.
Unlike most cars, the 7-inch touchscreen infotainment unit is mounted like a tablet on the dashboard and not integrated into it. This is the same unit seen on the Baleno, however, in addition to the Navigation, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay the Ignis' infotainment unit also supports Android Auto. That said, the touchscreen is available only on the Alpha trim as a standard fitment and that may just not tick one box with the young urban buyer who wants to stay connected even on the move. However, the lower Zeta and Delta variants have a Bluetooth compatible audio system with steering mounted control. So, while you won't be able to mirror a smartphone's screen to this system, you will still be connected. The automatic climate control, like the touchscreen, is also restricted to the top-end Alpha trim, however, the Zeta version's manual air conditioner cooled the cabin quickly. There are some compromises to be made in the lower versions, however, if a buyer is looking at purchasing the automatic transmission or AMT (Automated Manual Transmission) for ease of driving, the Ignis Zeta would be the best purchase.
Engine and Transmission
There is one applaud that must be given to Maruti Suzuki in this department. Customers looking out for an Ignis diesel automatic version are in luck as the company offers an AMT unit on both motors. That is a no-compromise situation, similar to the youth of the country. Coming over to the engines, the Ignis comes with the same capacity engines like the Baleno, a 1.2 litre VVT petrol and a 1.3 litre DDiS diesel. On paper, these engines produce 82 hp (petrol) and 74 hp (diesel) of power, however, in terms of practicality, the engines are tractable for everyday use and have a reasonable amount of grunt. The petrol engine has a linear power delivery, while the diesel has the typical 'boost' after 1,700 rpm as seen in the Swift and the Baleno. To put things in perspective, the petrol engine has a good balance, but runs out of steam post 5,500 rpm and a gear change is imminent, while the diesel is a better motor to drive on a daily basis.
Watch the Maruti Suzuki Ignis review:
Moving on to the transmissions, the manual gearbox on both the engines has a smooth gear change, but may feel 'buttery' for some spirited drivers as it has been tuned more towards smoothness over a crisp shift. Speaking of shifts, the AMT gearbox is the one already seen in the Maruti Suzuki DZire and has been packaged neatly into the Ignis. There is the shift shock or jerk that one would feel when the accelerator is floored in both engines. In the diesel, this abrupt shift is even more evident. But, to keep costs in check, the AMT was chosen over a conventional torque converter or a CVT. Overall, the powertrain is sprightly enough for the highway and comfortable for the city.
Now, in a fuel-efficiency sensitive segment, the Ignis being light (maximum kerb weight of kg) has a claimed mileage figure of 20.68 kmpl for the petrol and 26.9 kmpl for the diesel variants. In our short drive, the system indicated that for each litre of fuel, the petrol covered approximately 14 km and the diesel crossed 17 km easily. Compared to the real-world scenario and when compared in its segment, these numbers are reasonable and light on the owner's pocket.
Ride and Handling
If there is one compromise that a car with a tall stance has to do with better ground clearance, it is the ride and handling bit. The handling is neutral and during our short test, the suspension setup was neutral. Over normal curves, there is a little body roll, but nothing is unsettling and on straight highways, the stability is impressive. There is ample feedback from the electric power steering on the highway as well as the in the city. Since most of our driving included commuting through urban areas with a little high-speed use, it is safe to say that the ride and handling is one of the better-tuned ones in its segment.
Another plus to Maruti Suzuki for the Ignis is the safety front. All versions of the compact crossover are offered with ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), dual front airbags and ISOFIX anchorage for child seats. Along with the unconventional design, the company has also assured safety for all passengers. In practical usage, shedding speed quickly wherein the EBD works in tandem with the ABS to avoid locking up of the wheels, the Ignis does a good job of keeping its composure. However, due to the tall stance, the nose does dive down, but, the driver won't loose confidence.
The higher variants of the Ignis also get rear demister with wiper and so on. In total, the safety package offered on the compact crossover is not just good, but a benchmark in its segment.
The Ignis has been introduced by Maruti Suzuki as the 'First car of the young buyer'! It has a good set of motors and the option of an automatic transmission on both engine options that offers a consumer the best of both worlds, convenience and features. That coupled to the rather aggressive price tag (Rs 4.59 lakh to Rs 7.80 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi) and a host of features as well as standard safety equipment, the Ignis is a clear-cut winner in its segment. The only Achilles heel is the availability of an AMT in the top-end Alpha version. However, similar to the Baleno wherein the CVT was not available in the top trim, the Ignis may also get an automatic gearbox in the Alpha variant. Customers may not mind paying a little extra for the convenience of an automatic. Similarly, Maruti Suzuki could also offer the Ignis Zeta with a touchscreen unit as standard to appeal more buyers.
Who should buy the Ignis? It isn't restricted only to the young buyer, but anyone who is looking at a practical, feature-rich compact car that has reasonable road presence. In addition, this is the only car that has a character similar to the Mini Cooper, which although much more expensive, boasts of a funky and youthful image. You might like or dislike the Ignis' design but it's sure to get heads turning. In my opinion, there is no other car in this or multiple price-segments above that offers such a energetic combination and that is precisely what makes the Ignis a little different from all of its competition.
Maruti Suzuki Ignis variant-wise pricing:
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Sigma Petrol MT: Rs 4.59 lakh
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Delta Petrol MT: Rs 5.19 lakh
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Delta Petrol AMT: Rs 5.74 lakh
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Zeta Petrol MT: Rs 5.75 lakh
Maruti Suzuki Zeta Petrol AMT: Rs 6.30 lakh
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Alpha Petrol MT: Rs 6.69 lakh
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Delta Diesel MT: Rs 6.39 lakh
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Delta Diesel AMT: Rs 6.94 lakh
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Zeta Diesel MT: Rs 6.91 lakh
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Zeta Diesel AMT: Rs 7.46 lakh
Maruti Suzuki Ignis Alpha Diesel MT: Rs 7.80 lakh
All prices are introductory ex-showroom, Delhi.