I usually get to drive the small cars in our long-term fleet and that has worked in my favour because Maruti’s latest, the 1.3 Ignis, has just joined us. I was thrilled to get the keys to this hatchback because of its styling which has been inspired by the old Suzuki Cervo, a car I am extremely fond of. However, I found out soon that when it came to Ignis’ styling, opinions were divided. I got a lot of stares and not all were of approval.
As far as design goes, I like the Ignis’ mini-crossover looks when seen from the front three-quarters but I’m not a big fan of its angular rear. It also sports Suzuki’s Progressive Triad – the three bars on the C-pillar – which draws attention. I have had people ask me if the car has some association with Adidas.
Since my previous long-termer was the Tata Tiago, my expectations were set pretty high. The Ignis did impress. Maruti has defied the trend of black-beige interiors and has gone with a more wheatish shade combined with black for the Ignis. This dual-tone interior lifts the cabin’s appeal and makes it feel more inviting. The door handles are unique and look good but the armrests on the doors are finished in the lighter shade which means it’ll get dirty in no time; I had to keep wiping it quite often. The steering wheel with mounted controls is all new too. What’s disappointing though is that the rim – it’s not as thick as the Tiago’s and is a bit hard.
The Ignis here is in the Delta AMT trim and that means it doesn’t get the much-appreciated SmartPlay touchscreen system with reverse camera, the attractive LED-daytime running lamps and automatic climate control. I found the seats to be fairly decent and the good thing is the height at which the front seats are set – it makes it easy for older passengers to get in and out.
The Ignis is quite practical too. The 260-litre boot is good enough to hold medium-size bags and a few knick-knacks. One thing I found to be inconvenient was the boot light that has to be turned on/off via a switch. I realised this one night when I had my hands full with bags that needed to go in the boot. After some poking around the boot, I found the switch, put in the bags and closed the lid, forgetting to turn off the light. Luckily, I noticed some light through the gap in the parcel tray and had to open the boot once again to switch it off. An auto light would have been a lot simpler and not all that expensive either.
Powering the Ignis is the tried and tested 1.3-litre diesel unit which, combined with the car’s lightweight characteristics, makes it quite peppy to drive. Off-the-line performance is quite brisk and I absolutely love the way the car takes off from a standstill. However, this experience is marred by the automated manual transmission. But, mind you, Maruti, being the pioneer of AMT tech in our market, has come a long way in fine-tuning the gearbox. So, the Ignis’ AMT is an improvement as it actually holds the gear longer during overtaking – something that was sorely missed in earlier AMTs. The shifts are still jerky though and the head-nod gets annoying at slow speeds. Also, what the Ignis really needs is better sound insulation. The engine becomes noticeably audible when revved harder, not befitting of
a car at this price point.
All in all, my inaugural stint with this Maruti has been rather impressive. Its compact dimensions and peppy nature make darting to the office a fun experience and its frugal nature keeps my wallet happy. I now plan to head out on a long trip to see how the Ignis performs on highways. The next report will tell you all about that.