Mrs DougD and I returned from two weeks in Ireland recently. We had requested a small car, but unexpectedly received big fun in a small car.
“What size car did you rent?” asked the kid at the rental counter. “SMALL!” we answered in unison. We had driven in England before, and been warned that the roads in Ireland were even narrower so we wanted the smallest car possible. Walking out to the lot at Dublin airport I pushed the button on our Suzuki key fob and saw the lights flash on our little crossover SUV. Perfect!
So what is an Ignis anyway? Turns out this is the 2nd generation, built in Japan and India since 2016. Only 146 inches long, it’s classed as a “city car” and seems to get good reviews from the motoring press.
Ours had a 1.2 liter petrol engine with 90hp and a 5 speed manual transmission. It also had quite a clever little hybrid system that stores regenerative braking energy in a battery under the rear seat, and applies electrical forward thrust when appropriate. I never noticed the effects of the hybrid system, but there was a little graphic on the dash that indicated the state of the battery. I did notice that the clutch has an anti-rollback feature which came in handy on some hilly stops. On the motorway the Ignis kept up with traffic, although passing required some planning ahead and keeping the revs up. Despite being a city car we found it fine up to 120km/hr, at which point the handling got a little twitchy. Gas mileage is reported to be over 50mpg, although fuel was just over 2 Euro per liter we figured it was much less expensive to operate than our Grand Caravan back home.
Up front we’ve got 16 inch rims with little tiny brake discs. In the rear were some even tinier drums. Also note the plastic rub strips around the wheel openings, and the scratch marks from Mrs DougD scraping a stone wall.
Despite the small size the hatchback trunk held our backpacks and purchases easily. I wouldn’t travel with 4 people and hard suitcases in this car, but for us it was just fine.
Inside, the boxy shape makes for good visibility out the greenhouse and adequate headroom front and rear. Our car was equipped with most things you’d expect these days: A/C, power windows, USB port and non-intrusive console. We added a custom sticky note to remind ourselves which side of the road to drive on. Rear leg room was surprisingly good, I could sit behind myself comfortably. Despite the front power windows the rear units were wind-up.
Did I mention it was small? Here we are on the road to our Airbnb on Errisslannan peninsula (yes, this is a road with two way traffic) . Ireland sets their speed limits on the high side, and we found the Ignis to be delightful fun on R and L series roads. The handling feels light and tossable, and despite the narrow tires it felt well planted on the road.
Small also means it’s easy to park. Here in Dingle Mrs DougD manages to get it almost sideways yet still within the lines.
And at one point I did bark at her “Do NOT drive into the f**cking ocean!” but she had the situation under control.
Ireland also got high marks for being small but fun. The roads and views were amazing. Renting a car is a great way to see the country, driving is fast but not aggressive and we could semi-plan each day with sights and activities knowing we would stumble across more interesting things along the way.
We did a lot of hiking, the mountains were perfect for my age and level of fitness. 500m elevation gain on a hike is just right, and there’s usually a tea house or a pub at the bottom so you can have a snack afterwards. Why would anyone climb Mt Everest when you can have a whole mountain to yourself, get a great view, have a Guinness afterwards and still have time for something else in the afternoon?
One thing the Ignis is NOT would be super successful, at least in Ireland. Despite our enjoyment and the positive reviews I’ve seen since, we only saw a handful of other Ignis’ (Ignii?) during our two weeks. The Ignis starts at 16,320 Euro in Ireland, which seems like good value. Although looks are not it’s strong suit (particularly from the side) I would seriously consider buying one if they were available in Canada.
So a small car on a big trip for two turned out to be just right. Special thanks to Jim Grey who suggested some good roads and destinations. We are already thinking of going back with our two adult children, but will likely need a bigger car.
It seems similar sized to the VW Polo we rented a few years back in Iceland (which we liked a lot as well, the car as well as the country). Bummer that Suzuki didn’t stay in this market – although I can acknowledge that I didn’t buy one when they were here so can’t complain I guess.
Still, this Suzuki Ignis is a compelling car that seemed to work great for what you needed it for, and was likely even more capable than just that. Glad to hear the trip went well, I recall the roads from when we were there – in that case all five of us in a Ford Galaxy Minivan, the narrowness of the roads are no joke, often narrower than many North American sidewalks and even single car driveways. You even had what seems to be my preferred weather – around 50-60 degrees F, partly cloudy with some wind and regular refreshing rains, just wonderful!
It’s smaller Jim. A-segment for the Ignis, B for the Polo. Some direct and fully up-to-date competitors of this Suzuki are the Hyundai i10 and the brand new Toyota Aygo X.
Suzuki makes some tough little vehicles. I looked into an SX4 as a used car a couple of years ago. It’s 16″ longer than the Ignis, and it’s chief demerit was fuel mileage. Every time I crossed paths with an owner, I tried to buttonhole them for an opinion. To a person, they said (paraphrased), “I don’t love it, but I can’t kill it.”
Ireland is at or near the top of the list of future destinations if and when we decide that we can stomach air travel again. This write-up just made it that much more compelling.
For a while there it seemed as if European and American cars were becoming more alike, with more models being sold on both sides of the pond. But with Americans’ increasing distaste for anything smaller than a CRV or Rav4, and with the proliferation of A Class cars like this Ignis and similar ones from Hyundai and Kia in Europe, it seems that trend is well over.
Having just returned from a week in Eastern Oregon, my Suzuki was by far the smallest 4×4 I saw anywhere. 20 years ago, that would have been quite different.
It’ll be interesting to see if that changes again with soaring gas prices. I have an 03 Corolla which has a 12 gallon tank and it cost my over 60 dollars to fill it up.
If you’re ever in Ireland and want to speak of giving or getting a ride in a car, you want to say a “lift.” A “ride” = to have sex.
1.2 liter gasoline engine with 90hp and a 5 speed manual transmission…hybrid system that stores regenerative braking energy in a battery under the rear seat…gas mileage is reported to be over 50mpg…
Neat car. With gas @ ~$5/gallon in the US it could be a hit seller here now, except for the clutch.
Great review and pics! As a Canadian, I’d probably call it the Inglis. 🙂 Being a white appliance.
I like it, well-packaged for its size. The slab sides, rear quarter area, and upright tail end, remind me some of the original Subaru Rex. The nose says Jeep.
I’m sad that Americans will never see the likes of this again. I really had a lot of love for my Chevy Sprint 5-door. I’ve looked lustfully at the Hyundai i10.
Very interesting. Perhaps Suzuki is king of the overseas rental market, as I’ve recently ended up with Suzukis with my rentals.
I toured Ireland back in 96 with a rental Vauxhall Omega ( from which the Cadillac Catera was derived. ) It’s a terrific place, beautiful and, for Europe, surprisingly unpopulated and desolate in many areas.
In the pre navigation era, we found the signposts to be hilariously inconsistent. A certain fatalistic attitude was required, driving with a destination in mind was futile, semi-aimless wandering was very rewarding
We found that because the speed limits are set so high, phone navigation directs you onto minor roads because they are faster in theory, but you can’t possibly drive at the posted limit. This led us down some very scenic roads, but when we wanted to actually get somewhere I navigated with both phone and map.
“Ok the phone wants us to turn here but the highway goes around the mountain and that little road goes over it”
You mention “high” several times but what exactly is a number for that “high” posted speed?
Motorways are 120 km/hr and two lane roads with good visibility are often 100.
In the 6th photo with the car facing away on the narrow road with stone walls, that would be 60 km/hr.
In the 9th photo with the car facing away and the single lane road heading off between the hills, that’s 80 km/hr with two way traffic.
Generally we thought that the speed limits were set at least 20 km/hr higher than they would be in Ontario Canada.
I sometimes see the odd Ignis locally in Co Kerry, and they always look just a bit too narrow.
Sadly car rental prices have risen to absurd levels this season, due to the reduction of rental fleets during covid, and the difficulty in sourcing new replacements. There are fears that this will hurt tourism even more than the current elevated fuel prices.
An account which brought me fond memories of having rented a new Austin Metro in 1984, driving it all the way around the coast of Ireland in the course of about a week. I was surprised to have put more than 3,000 miles on the clock as a result.
Personally I like the styling of the Ignis a lot. The styling is said to be a tribute to the Giugiaro-designed, rear-engined Suzuki Cervo …
This is an overseas trip my Irish ancestored wife would love. And that Suzuki looks like an ideal automotive partner for your journeys.
Mrs. D standing next to the Suzuki gives great perspective on how petite your car was!
Popular little cars over here mostly for the fuel economy but they are tough a friend had a gen 1 Ignis and dozed off at the wheel she went head on into a furniture truck towing a trailer the car folded up as designed and bounced off totally destroyed but my friend survived she had a long stay in hospital but the car saved her of course if you dont bang them into other vehicles they provide good reliable transport.
From the photos you provided Ireland appears to match my parents description that every place is “postcard perfect.” That looks like a great sightseeing car but holycrap those brakes are hamster size.
I was thinking about that and looked it up – the brake discs are within 2mm of the same diameter as those on the 2020 Toyota Yaris and the 2015 older Mazda2. They’re also quite a bit larger than those on the Chevy Spark which I think is the only car currently sold in the U.S. with discs smaller than 10″ across. Which of course makes them wonderfully inexpensive to replace eventually and pays dividends in handling and anything to do with unsprung vs sprung weight while working perfectly well to brake a lighter weight vehicle. The huge (16″) wheels for this size of car I think make them look abnormally small.
This, and the Ignis is significantly lighter than all the cars you listed on top of all that. The heaviest model, the hybrid CVT with all wheel drive, is a 2,075 lb. vehicle.
We had a Nissan Micra on our Ireland honeymoon beck in the late 80s. One itty-bitty size up from this Suzuki, or maybe not. Perfect for two, for the driving environment, and for the road network, which doesn’t look like it has changed much in 35 years. Those one lane roads with little traffic really do let your brain lapse into driving “to the right”, in a way that wider two-lane, striped, and signposted British roads inhibit you from doing.
If you enjoy seclusion, country drives, beautiful scenery, and exuberant personalities, Ireland has to be on one’s bucket list of places to go.
I liked this gen Ignis ever since it was introduced and might have even been interested in getting one had Suzuki made a sports version (as was available in the previous generation) available. An Ignis with optimized suspension, bigger brakes and say 130-140 hp would have been very hard to resist.
My favorite features are the boxy shape and the stick shift. That is a combo that is getting rare. I think a Kia Soul still comes as a stick, but the last time I looked, the manual was only available in a very limited number of trim levels or colors. It is also quite a bit bigger than your Ignis. Which makes me think of either igneous (the kind of rock) or Ignatius (the Catholic saint). I guess those traits would make for a good car.
Sadly, no manual Souls as of 2022.
Suzuki sure does make some funny-looking cars. But you’re right, something this size is just right for tooling around Ireland. You never know when the road will suddenly narrow down to not quite one full lane – and then you will encounter an oncoming bus!
I remember driving in Devon in the 1960s, seeing road-signs that read “Single Track Road With Passing Places” , and noticing that the really narrow roads lacked this signage!
As a child I had always been nervous when travelling narrow lanes in Wales with a favourite uncle, in case we met an oncoming vehicle. These days I live on a “single track road” and take it for granted. You just need to keep an eye open for potential passing places….
Remember that the speed limits are statutory limits rather than safety limits – they take no account of where you might find slippery cow-poo on the road, or meet donkeys or deer.
I remember visiting our grandmother in Kent, England when I was young. She hurtled around single-track country lanes in a bright blue Mini – it was worrying but exciting for a boy from the Vancouver suburbs.
Ignis is quite popular here in South Africa, serving up SUV looks for entry level buyers. Suzuki are on a roll here sales wise. The Swift was SA’s best selling passenger vehicle [not bakkies/trucks] for May with 1764 sales. This is the first time ever. They’ve gone from being a niche player to having four Suzuki based products in the top ten, with the budget S-Presso coming in at number 10. The Jimny even outsold the popular Hyundai i20/Kia Rio duo. The second best selling car for May was the Toyota Urban Cruiser which is a mildly reworked Indian sourced Suzuki Vitara Brezza, which is also a big seller here. The public perception of Suzuki has soared since they saw perennial favourite Toyota slapping their badge on Suzukis like the Baleno, to create the Toyota Starlet, and Ertiga, to create the Rumion. All of these are sold alongside each other, and invariably, Swift aside, the Toyotas outsell the Suzukis because of their vastly superior dealer footprint, but still Suzuki is one of the fastest growing brands in the country.
I like your sticky note on the dash to keep to the left. I’ve driven southern England twice. Each time I used a Garmin GPS with a UK chip. Worked perfectly!!
Living in the USA, one may come across the rare Mexican market Ignis. Just last month I found one parked not two blocks from my home while strolling in the neighborhood. I live in Denver – a healthy 650-mile drive from Chihuahua state, where the car was registered. I knew what it was at a glimpse from about a hundred feet away because of its distinctive silhouette and its odd tail lights. I dashed on over for a closer look and was stunned by how small it is in person. I daily drive a Honda Fit, which is fairly compact on American roads. To my eye the Ignis was very obviously smaller and narrower. Nonetheless, the square shape of the Ignis really gives it a leg up in interior volume. I thought that the high roof means the driver and passengers don’t give up on head room. It really looked like a shrunken version of my Fit, which is a compliment. Looking at the specs for the two models, the Fit is practically a truck when compared to the Ignis with an additional 17 inches (43 cm) in length and 650 lbs. (295 kg) of mass.
Just back from Oaxaca and Mexico City. Lots of Ignii there, though probably more VW bugs in Oaxaca. Seemed like a very good size vehicle for the depleted roads and streets of Oaxaca. Most important south of the border is to watch for speed bumps. There are many!!!!
CC effect: some acquaintances popped in yesterday to show us their new Ignis… Cute little thing, very quiet too. A little stubby looking from some angles, but I love the Cervo-inspired grooves in the C-pillar.