I do not listen to music; not when I’m alone at home neither when I’m driving; my iPhone doesn’t even have a playlist. However, if I’ve company when I’m driving, I do not put a dampener on things and let others play their favourite music. For instance, my partner and I were on our way back to Mumbai from Delhi – a two-day, 1600km journey.
And since the trip had popped up from nowhere, neither of us had come prepared, which meant our in-house Bollywood buff (not me) wasn’t carrying his iPod. It’s another story that his iPod now belongs to his wife.
Anyway, Rajeev insisted we listen to the radio and for hours, we were subjected to RJs relentlessly trying to tickle our funny bones and playing dreadfully remixed Bollywood songs. Most of the evergreen melodies from the ’70s, ’80s and the 90s have been brutally butchered by budding music composers of today, and it was after being subjected to these dreadful songs that I realised, originality is absolutely rare these days. Be it Bollywood or the automotive industry, it’s really hard to find an original song or a product that will strike a chord almost instantly. While most “new” cars today share quite a lot within the family, a few of them even take design inspirations from cars already on sale. However, the one that we’re driving here, isn’t just any sheep in the small car flock.
It’s a car that doesn’t follow a template, but is yet quite practical. And guess what, it comes from the carmaker that literally put India on wheels. Yes, it carries the Maruti Suzuki nameplate and if originality is rare, the Ignis is an extraordinary example. The stylish little Suzuki doesn’t share its design language with the current crop of Marutis. The only element you may have noticed before are the three slats on the G-pillar. No, Adidas has nothing to do with the Ignis, but those slats hark back to Suzuki’s popular small car from the late ’70s, the Cervo.
Thankfully, that’s the only element Suzuki decided to hold on to from the past as the rest of what you see on these pages is quite unique. Maruti states its latest small car has been “Made for Millennials by the Millennials” and that shows in the way it’s been conceptualised – the Ignis isn’t anything we’ve seen on the roads before. And since for a majority of us, car buying is a process that involves the entire family, good luck trying to convince your granddad about that unusual derriere – its unconventional design is sure to have polarised opinions.
But once you get past that and step inside the cabin, the Ignis doesn’t need anymore convincing. As per small car and Maruti’s own standards in the past, the inside story is quite refreshing – it’s funky and cheerful, and to be honest, it’s the best we’ve seen from a Maruti in terms of design. The best part, it all feels well put together – no signs of saving costs here. It’s even more impressive because it’d have been easier for Maruti to explore its existing parts bin and share components with other small cars. But with the Ignis, Maruti has done what’s right and not what was easy. And that’s exactly why the Ignis looks and feels the way it does, inside and out.
Another aspect of the Ignis worth appreciating is the overall space and seating comfort. It may look compact from outside, but it’s spacious enough to seat four adults and still have some space for your pet. And you’d be surprised with the kind of rear leg room the Ignis has to offer – an average Indian wouldn’t be cramped for space and to achieve that with a wheelbase that’s only 13mm longer than the Renault Kwid’s, is commendable.
If there’s something the Ignis is guilty of sharing with other Marutis then it’s the engine-transmission combination. We wouldn’t blame Maruti for doing that, though. The K12 motor lurking under the hood is probably one of the best 1.2-litre petrol engines in India – smooth and refined. Plus, at 860 kilos, the lightweight Ignis always promised a peppy drive.
It doesn’t feel as hurried as the Baleno when driven fast, but that’s down to the engine tune that develops power in a very linear manner. It continues to sound good – not Baleno good though. The diesel on the other hand, although nice and peppy, is now starting to show its age and sounds a little gruff when compared.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of performance from the DDiS motor. With 190 Newtons on tap, the motor has enough grunt to tackle your everyday needs and it feels extremely relaxed at triple digit speeds. We are truly amazed with the kind of driveability it offers at any given point of time – there’s the lightweight construction and finely tuned motors working their charm in the real world. Be it manual or the AMT, petrol or the diesel, the Ignis offers peppy and cheerful performance, and that goes well with its overall character.
Even in terms of dynamics, the youngest Maruti is quite an impressive little chap. Introducing Maruti’s fifth generation ‘A’ platform in India, the Ignis is well-sorted as far as ride and handling go. Compared to the international model, the Ignis sold in India gets slightly softer spring ratings that take good care of those road surfaces. At most times, the ride stays nice and flat, in fact, for a car that’s only 3.7m long, the Ignis stays extremely composed even at speeds above 100kph.