A new small car from country’s leading car maker. Can there be bigger news in the Indian auto sector. Maruti Suzuki first showed the Ignis at the Auto Expo 2016, so it’s been a year long wait to see the car running out on the roads. Maruti launched the car at an EDM music concert last week where the audience largely consisted of the car’s target buyer, the millennial. The company has been very clear on who the Ignis is made for and looking at the design and features, that does seem to be the case. A first drive post the launch was a much awaited event for us and it was the beautiful east coast road from Chennai to Pondicherry where we got to sample the different variants of the Ignis.
Yes it is a boxy design but it has worked in the past; the ever popular WagonR being a case in point. Despite being boxy the designers have added elements that make the car look appealing and youthful. The uniquely shaped daytime running LEDs are a highlight, they look beautiful be it day or night. The bumper design is aggressive and the chrome grille makes the front look attractive. There’s an overdose of the colour black on the profile. The alloy wheels, the retractable side view mirrors, A & B pillars as well as the roof on our blue test car were all black. The car also comes with many personalization options one of them being having patterns on the roof instead a single colour. The rear isn’t as attractive as the front but the split tail lamps add a nice touch. The horizontal black bar in the middle of the rear bumper though fails to add to the overall character.
The Ignis is a small car and gives an impression from outside that it’s not big on interior space, but step inside and their ample legroom and shoulder room on both rows. But we do recommend just 2 occupants on the second row instead of 3 for a more comfortable drive. Boot space of 260 litres is adequate for a car of this size, and the second row can be folded down to have a total storage space of 415 litres. The second row can also be folded in a 60:40 ratio, thereby aiding in convenience. The dual color tone of black and light grey looks good on the dash and doors, while the seats are all black. The highlight on the dash is the tab like touch screen system that leaps out of the dash. It offers navigation along with entertainment and also has a rear parking camera. The AC control cluster is also nicely styled and looks unique. The problem is that both the latter and the touch screen only find a place in the top variants and without them the car loses some of its sheen.
The Ignis gets lots of options when it comes to engine and gearbox. There are both Petrol and Diesel and both come with a 5-speed manual transmission and AGS or auto gear shift variants. Both are tried and tested engines that we’ve seen earlier with the Swift. The 1.2 liter petrol gives a maximum power of 84 PS while the very popular 1.3 liter Diesel churns out 75 PS. The lighter 825 kg of kerb weight on the petrol makes it a fun, peppy car to drive. Diesel kerb weight stands at 940 kg. Maruti has proved its capability with use of AMT technology in cars like the Celerio, Alto as well as the Dzire. The unbeatable combination of an auto gearbox that’s affordable and gives the same mileage as manual is why that AMT technology has been such a success. Maruti is claiming a mileage of 20.89 kmpl on the manual petrol variant and a very impressive 26.8 kmpl on the diesel models.
Ride & Handling
The tallboy design of the Ignis doesn’t really hamper the way the car handles. Be it the highway or the city maneuvering the Ignis is a breeze. But a lighter steering wheel would’ve helped matters even further. Also the NVH levels especially on the Diesel can be worked upon to give the passengers a quieter cabin. The suspension is tuned very well to handle the Indian road conditions and the car ensures a comfortable ride for its occupants. What also gives a reassuring ride on the Ignis are its safety features like ABS and twin airbags that come as standard on all variants of the car. The car also comes with the Isofix child seat restraint mechanism.
The Ignis is being retailed through Maruti’s premium chain Nexa that also sells the successful Baleno and the not so successful S-cross. The prices start at Rs. 4.59 lakhs (ex-Delhi) for the base petrol and go up to Rs. 7.80 lakh (ex-Delhi) for the top Diesel variant. These introductory prices cannot exactly be termed as aggressive and top variants despite all the features do feel overpriced. Nevertheless it is a car that’s good on features, drives well and looks good. And that is probably all that a millennial cares about.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars