DAVE MOORE: A tale of two Suzies - the new Igniss and the S-Cross

It's 'the tale of two Suzies' - The Ignis combines fun, funk & function, while the S-Cross gets a new grille and more oomph, writes DAVE MOORE.

The Ignis (pictured above)

With a raft of equipment, a beautifully detailed albeit boxy body style, a tonne of space and a new Stratified Charge 1.2-litre engine - with 5-speed or CVT - the Suzuki Ignis - not to be confused at all with its predecessor will turn what you expect of a small car onto its head as it enters the market this week.

It’s a little crossovery - isn’t everything these days? - but from its Batman’s mate Robin-like facemask to its three-indent adidas rear-pillar treatment, the Ignis is a head turner, and inside and out it oozes character. We don’t get the turbo-hybrid all-wheel-drive version available on its home market, but a short launch drive proves that though its steering is a vague, the basic 1.2-litre car we do get is more fun than a cartload of monkeys and manages to impart a level of ride quality you’d not expect from a car this small.

The new Suzuki Ignis is stickered from $18,990 to $22,990 or right between the 1.0-litre Celerio and the Swift, which will be replaced with a new model later in the year. The Ignis uses Suzuki’s 1.2-litre Dualjet four-cylinder petrol engine, with five-speed manual transmission in the base car and CVT automatic in all the rest.

It’s a simple line-up. The GLX, with a manual ($18,990) or auto choice ($20,500) and the LTD ($22,500) which is CVT only but adds alloy wheels and Apple car play, while both models get half a dozen airbags and a full suite of driver aids and safety electronics. For an extra $490, the LTD can be had with two-tone paint.

Te Atatu house

The Ignis shares its platform with the larger Baleno, which is hardly overweight itself, and each of the line-up weighs in a featherweight 810kg.

The car certainly feels agile as a result and it’s communicative, accurate and brilliantly biddable to drive, a delight to manoeuvre at low speed and I’m sure it will prove to be one of the best city cars launched this year. Its diminutive size, upright driving position and excellent visibility make it perfect for threading through tight gaps.

Not only that, it’s design is so clever that it really does take at least four good-sized adults with ease. In the LTD it has to be four as the rear seat is a fifty-fifty split, while the GLX has three moveable rear seat places.

I love this wee chap. It’s one of the least compromised small cars to reach the market in some years and if Suzuki doesn’t bring the new Swift to market quickly, the Ignis (pronounced IGNEECE, by the way) could easily cannibalise that cars sales. However, one thing the Ignis isn’t is a bowling club car pure and simple, it’s a younger person’s car than that and New Zealand is just about ready for it.

The Suzuki S-Cross

Te Atatu house

Positioned as a sub-Vitara sized Crossover in the Suzuki line-up, the S-Cross has just gone through the process of adding the Vitara’s terrific new 1.4-litre turbo power unit to its previous sole 1.6-litre naturally aspirated choice. It also gains some styling changes, new frontal treatment, including upgraded lighting and a chrome new grille.

The car stays at under $30,000 with the 1.6 2WD LTD CVT auto at $29,990, with AWD in the same car asking $33,990. The 1.4-litre turbocharged version asks the same $33,990, but the extra performance, acres of torque and ‘proper’ six-speed automatic make it great value for money and dare I say it, a more dynamic and less compromised daily drive than the Vitara.

But it’s the gorgeous wee Ignis that charms me, it’s a classy and yet class-less newcomer that makes you wonder why the modern Mini wasn’t designed this way.