Maruti Suzuki had one of the hottest exhibits at the 2016 Auto Expo, where they showcased the Ignis. The off-beat styling with a crossover-esque design grabbed a lot of eye balls. After waiting for a year, the Ignis has been finally launched with a range of engine and transmission options along with highly customisable trims. The Indo-Japanese carmaker is targeting the millennial youth audience with the Ignis and retailing it via their premium NEXA dealerships across the country. What’s the hype all about? We find out in our test drive in Chennai.. Check for review & price of Maruti cars
EXTERIORS AND STYLE
The biggest USP of the Maruti Ignis is its distinct styling that immediately catches attention on the road. The crossover silhouette makes it a tall boy while the modern design language separates its identity from the regular lot of Marutis. The front profile is clean yet attractive with the wide grille extending towards the headlamps. The LED DRLs are wrapped around the projector headlamps that illuminate the road very well, there are no halogen lights. The bumper looks sporty integrating the fog lamps in chrome housing.
The side profile is dominated by the pronounced wheel arches with cladding and contrasting black alloys. Furthermore, the straight bonnet along with a high roofline and flat rear profile makes it look like a pseudo SUV. The C-Pillar gets a very distinct kink with stylish indents that might remind you of the Adidas logo, it looks sporty. Now the rear profile of the Ignis has got a “love it or hate it” design. Though looks are subjective but we like the classic touches of the squared out tail lights and the heavily cladded rear bumper. The Ignis also comes with dual tone colours like the Vitara Brezza. Also, you can customise the roof with different wraps. Check On Road Price of Ignis
INTERIOR AND SPACE
The interior layout is also in keeping with the exterior design. Maruti has cleverly used black and off-white interiors to enhance the sense of space in the cabin. That said, the lower portion of the dash and the door pads are prone to getting soiled too easily and it’ll be quite a task to keep these clean. The plastic quality too in these areas feels like its from the budget end of the parts bin.
The Ignis AMT is available in the Delta and Zeta variants only. The latter is what you see here and it loses out on goodies such as LED headlamps, DRLs, a touchscreen infotainment system, climate control and the cool toggle switches on the centre console that you get in the top-end Alpha variant. I also have a gripe with the music system in the Zeta variant. The sound output is average; the speakers seem like they are from a car in the ’90s. An aftermarket system, hence, is highly recommended.
Cabin space, as Rahul rightly pointed, is adequate to seat four adults only, so let the ‘based on the Baleno platform’ sales pitch not fool you into believing you’ll have space equal to that car. What you do get, however is generous knee and head room at the rear. The front seats are pretty comfortable and the generous bolstering offers great support, which I think is great for a reason that I’ll come to later.
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE
There’s a telling difference between the on-road performance of the petrol and diesel versions. The petrol is quiet, refined and linear in its power delivery. The diesel in comparison is noisy and a bit unruly. There’s also that turbo lag this 1.3-litre Fiat designed diesel engine is infamous for. The lag is less obvious in the automatic version compared to the diesel manual, but it is still there. The diesel however makes for easier overtakes once the turbo is spooled up. And it is clearly the more fuel efficient of the two.
In AMT or AGS or automatic guise, the diesel Ignis makes for a relaxed commuter till the time you don’t ask much of the throttle pedal. There’s some shift shock, yes, but it isn’t uncomfortable. That is till you start getting hard on the gas. Because once you do, the gearbox likes to tie itself in knots. It’s not sure what gear to pick, especially when downshifting. It invariably picks a gear too low causing excessive head bobbing. The ‘box struggles to make smooth transitions between shifts as well.
The petrol comes with an AMT ‘box too. And it is fantastic in comparison to the diesel setup. The shifts are smooth, the throttle response is crisper, and the power delivery is alert and linear from the word go. Add to it the quiet nature of the petrol engine and the sporty note it takes on as the revs rise, and you have a car that’s certainly more in line with an enthusiast’s want.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The Ignis is based on a new platform that has been derived from the Baleno’s B-platform. Structural rigidity is thus improved from previous generation cars that the company has manufactured around these dimensions. This has allowed the engineers to offer generous window area with slimmer A and B-pillars without compromising on safety. Maruti Suzuki Ignis
The Ignis offers great all-around visibility for parking and manoeuvring in tight spaces. It is easy to get used to the proportions of the car but the slower steering rack is a letdown as it makes these manoeuvres difficult. The suspension is set up for urban conditions so they do a good job of absorbing undulations and potholes and it gets better as speeds climb. At slow speeds, the damping is a bit harsh but nothing that the well bolstered and slightly soft seats can’t handle.
We were mostly on fast, straight stretches of highway during our drive and the Ignis felt confident and quick there. The car is possibly the lightest setup that the engines have been applied to and the suspension does a good job of keeping the car stable and planted at highway pace.
It is one aspect where Maruti has truly excelled. Maruti Ignis specifications include dual front airbags, seatbelts with pre-tensioner and force limiter (PTFL), and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) as standard fitments. In addition, ISOFIX Anchorage – a child seat restraint system – is also offered as a standard feature with the entire Ignis variant lineup.
This isn’t your typical Maruti. It isn’t value for money in the true Maruti sense, its styling steers away from the safe path, and it will polarise people into ‘love-it’ or ‘hate-it’ camps. If you find yourself in the ‘love-it’ group there is very little to turn you away from the Ignis. The AMT gearbox isn’t all good and at this price point, it would be fair to expect a smoother shifting unit. Also, the steering is quite lifeless, particularly the petrol, but that apart, the car has a lot going for it. It’s cool and funky, it’s loaded with equipment not seen in this segment like LED projector lamps, a touchscreen system and auto climate control. There’s also a lot of space inside. Both engines are rewarding to drive, especially the peppy petrol and did we mention it’s really funky? So, in a positive manner of speaking, this is not your typical Maruti. And then again, it is one! Many components are shared with its stablemates, so maintenance costs will be minimal, and it’s backed by the carmaker’s wide service network.