Maruti's hatchback for millennials, the Ignis, takes on Mahindra's young KUV100 and Hyundai's Grand i10 that looks youthful thanks to an update.
The last thing Maruti needed was another hatchback. But, lo and behold, it’s brought out the Ignis. It’s a car that Maruti believes will strike a chord with young buyers looking for something out of the ordinary. To be successful the Ignis primarily has to do just that. It has to look, feel and drive distinct to the horde of other Marutis on our roads and also edge past the competition – that comes from the likes of the Mahindra KUV100 and Hyundai Grand i10 – in the areas that matter. Mahindra may market the KUV as an SUV but at its core, this is a hatchback, with a monocoque body, front-wheel drive and all. Like the Ignis, the KUV also relies heavily on its design to distinguish it from the other hatchbacks on sale. The Grand i10 is the oldest car here but it’s fresh from an update and is all the better for it. That the Grand i10 is a constant entry in the list of India’s bestselling cars also makes it the model to beat.
For this comparison, we’ve considered diesel versions to include the updated 1.2-litre motor in the Grand i10. As always, all parameters will get due attention and weightage while deciding the final standings.
The shape of things
If you like your car to be conventional in shape and design, the Ignis and KUV100 might not catch your fancy. Both sport pseudo-crossover designs and invite the same love-it-or-hate-it reactions as the Hyundai Santro, the original ‘tall boy’, once did. The Ignis’ look is a clear break from the Maruti (or Suzuki) template and in a way, that’s what also makes it special. This isn’t your everyday family Maruti but one that makes a statement with the way it looks. Frontal styling is smart, and what’s particularly nice is how this top-spec Alpha trim car’s LED DRLs outline the headlights on the large grille. Adding to the cool quotient are this Alpha trim Ignis’ first-in-class LED headlights. They provide excellent illumination at night but also promise to be expensive bits to replace, if damaged. Wide wheel arches, blacked-out A-pillars and black alloy wheels give the Ignis some personality but it’s aft the B-pillar that opinions on the small Maruti’s look vary most. Some of us find the chunky C-pillar (replete with those ‘Adidas’ stripes) to add muscle to the design, while others find it out of place on a car this small. Rear styling is more polarising still. The rake of the windscreen, upright tailgate, shape of the tail-lights and large slab of plastic cladding on the bumper make the Ignis’ behind look, well, different. Good different or bad different is a matter of personal opinion. However, the Ignis’ 175/65 R15 tyres appear narrow, especially when viewed from the tail.
The Ignis is a clear break from typical Suzuki design.
You’ll have to use a bit of imagination with respect to the KUV100 pictured here. Mahindra categorically refused to provide us a car for this comparison (they possibly knew what the verdict of this test would be before we did!), so we had to make do with a base-spec version we managed to source from the market. In essence, top-spec KUV100’s get more chrome detailing, body-coloured mirrors and door handles, some cladding on the doors and wheel arches and, of course, alloy wheels. Of late, Mahindra has upsized the alloy wheel size on the top K8 KUV from 14 to 15 inches and has also introduced dual-tone (basically black roof and pillars) paint schemes. We’ve seen the car in question in the flesh and the larger wheels have helped the KUV100’s looks to some extent. Still, styling is overdone with undue cuts and creases, and there’s a visible lack of design harmony between the SUV-like front end and hatchback-like tail. It is eye-catching, just not necessarily for the right reasons. The KUV is the shortest car here in length but is the tallest and widest which only serves to emphasise its oddball proportions.In the company of the Ignis and KUV100, the Grand i10’s design almost comes across as too safe. It’s got the most conventional silhouette. But is that a bad thing? Not really. There’s a nice balance to the design and the restrained lines work well. Part of the recent facelift is a reshaped grille and L-shaped fog lamp surrounds on the front bumper that is not only home to the new LED DRLs but, as per Hyundai’s claims, also help improve aerodynamics. The smart alloy wheel design is new too, and completing the makeover is the revised rear bumper. While the latter’s black cladding and large round reflectors do look slightly out of sync with the rest of the car’s styling, they won’t be deal-breakers like certain visual elements on the Ignis and KUV.