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What is it?

The Suzuki Ignis is a stylish-yet-leftfield take on the small car market. It measures just 3.7m in length, so it’s only 10cm longer than a Volkswagen Up and yet offers an unfeasible amount of interior space. We’re talking four adults in comfort, with knees free from dashboards or backrests and heads well clear of roof lining.

It looks punchy, too. The clamshell bonnet and rear quarter louvres are just a couple of distinctive design cues that help reference Suzuki’s back catalogue of Vitara and Whizzkid, but the baby SUV styling also has substance. That’s because you can order the Ignis with either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, which Suzuki calls AllGrip. Think of it then, as a tall, Japanese Fiat Panda

2016 Suzuki Ignis SZ5 AllGrip
2016 Suzuki Ignis SZ5 AllGrip

Admittedly, small cars need to be built to a price and with the Ignis, that price starts from a very reasonable £10,999. Some of those cost savings are evident in the cabin with a setup that is no-frills and super functional - the door pockets even have a picture of a bottle stamped into them, just in case you were in any doubt. That said, important creature comforts such as digital radio and Bluetooth compatibility are standard, while everything is built to last using solid plastics rather than recycled crisp packets. We also love how the Flame Orange paint we’ve selected has been carried over onto the door handles and transmission console.

Just one engine is available – an 89bhp, 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol unit – but Suzuki offers the option of a 'mild hybrid' application that uses kinetic energy from braking and decelerating to charge up a lithium battery, which then gives an electrical boost when setting off from a standstill. There’s a pretty juicy caveat here, of course, in that this isn’t really a hybrid. Well, not in the same way as our new long-term Toyota Yaris Hybrid, anyway (which you'll read about it the next few weeks). Rather than a proper electric motor, the Suzuki's system is more like a clever alternator, which is said to offer marginal gains of 4mpg and 7g/km of CO2 over the standard naturally aspirated engine.

2016 Suzuki Ignis SZ5 AllGrip

Our car: Suzuki Ignis 1.2 SZ5 SHVS AllGrip (manual)
List price £14,999
Estimated PCP finance £214pcm [includes one year free insurance, three years free servicing | based on £214 deposit, 47 monthly payments, 6,000 miles per annum, 5.9% APR]
Options fitted Flame Orange Pearl Metallic Two-Tone £650
Price as tested £15,649
Warranty 3 years, 60,000 miles
Service intervals

12 months/12,5000 miles

What do we want to know?

We already know the Suzuki Ignis is small, funky and practical, not to mention a popular choice in mid-spec SZ-T trim level, as it comes with big car features like sliding rear seats, roof rails and a reversing camera. However, we’ve chosen the top spec SZ5 to give our Ignis the best possible chance of matching the appeal of our favourite small car, the Volkswagen Up.

2016 Suzuki Ignis SZ5 AllGrip
2016 Suzuki Ignis SZ5 AllGrip
2016 Suzuki Ignis SZ5 AllGrip

The SZ5 adds air conditioning, front fog lights, daytime-running LED headlights, keyless entry and a raft of active safety equipment that moves this car’s Euro NCAP crash safety rating from three stars to a maximum five stars.

We’ve also selected the mild hybrid application to see if the fuel savings are worth the additional outlay, as well as the four-wheel drive system to discover just how capable this little car is at going off-road. We feel a road trip to the Alps coming on... Of course, if you have any questions about our Suzuki Ignis long term test car, or are thinking about buying one yourself, then do get in touch by contacting me on Twitter @jon_quirk or via the @Motor1UK account.  

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Gallery: Suzuki Ignis: Living with it

Suzuki Ignis 1.2 SZ5 SHVS AllGrip

Engine 1.2-litre petrol
Transmission 5-speed manual
Output 89bhp at 6,000rpm | 88lb ft at 4,400rpm
Efficiency 60.1mpg / 106g/km
Speed 0-62 MPH 11.5secs
Top Speed 103mph