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Test Drive: Maruti Suzuki Ignis offers loads of customisations

Maruti Suzuki brings in a ‘none-of-a-kind’ challenger to the bustling compact urban space — the Ignis, a car for the millenials, offering loads of customisations

Maruti Suzuki has launched its fourth car with the same choice of petrol and diesel engines, and the second one under their Nexa umbrella. This one brings back a popular name. It also went rallying in the JWRC a decade ago. ‘Ignis’ means ‘fire’ in Latin, and that’s just what the company hopes it will do: set the segment on fire. A new Maruti Suzuki car - any new Maruti Suzuki car - sees success.

All-black alloys are good lookers
All-black alloys are good lookers

We’re not going to give you a history lesson, but we will tell you that the most influential Maruti Suzuki cars have been the venerable 800, the Zen, the Alto and the Swift. All small cars that did big things to people which, in turn, got the numbers that did even bigger things to Maruti Suzuki. The fact that they have a market share greater than the rest - from Hyundai to Lamborghini - combined tells you all you need to know about their popularity. The Ignis, then, seems to see success because of two things: it’s a smartly designed compact car aimed squarely at the millennials and their demands, including loads of customisation. It packs a lot of new equipment and features. Though called an urban compact vehicle, it can handle the outdoor ups and downs as well. It feels youthful, well thought out, and akin to a modern-day Zen.

Dual-tone interior adds a modern touch
Dual-tone interior adds a modern touch

We were given the top-spec Alpha 1.2-litre petrol with manual transmission as well as the highest available auto diesel specification, the Zeta AMT. Both use five-speed gearboxes driving the front wheels and both are equally credible in their own right. Firstly, it’s the styling that stands out. It’s unique. While Maruti don’t have a family face set in stone, the Ignis takes it a level further, adding new elements and tweaking known proportions to play around with what is essentially a rectangular design. The chunky wheel-arch and the 15-inch black alloy wheels with 175/65 rubbers, also contribute to the contemporary look. The rear quarter panel design accent is one such element, while the top-spec Alpha trim gets projector headlamps with LED light signatures.

LED wrapped projectors only available in the top spec mode. Pics/Sanjay Raikar
LED wrapped projectors only available in the top spec mode. Pics/Sanjay Raikar

Inside, the Ignis is spacious. The wide cabin and thin seats allow for more passenger room and the smart layout allows more features to be accommodated. The front seats are comfortable as are the rear ones and the roominess is commendable. The large glass windows also add to the feel, letting in more light, adding an airy and spacious feel to the cabin. There are a couple of bottle-holders at the front doors and enough storage space in the rear too. The trim accents in the body colour - should you choose blue or red - add to the colour inside, as does the colour-coded dial in the info-console. Add the auto climate to the list and you’ll realise that the amount of kit is great. The Ignis also marks the arrival of standard ABS and dual front airbags to the Nexa cars. The Ignis gets ISOFIX child-seat anchors as well. The adjustable head restraints, front and rear, are also notable additions. Safety isn’t compromised here and that’s a good feeling.

More kit comes in the form of the touchscreen multimedia, navigation and communication interface as well as banging sound system. With four speakers, two tweeters and USB, Aux and Bluetooth connectivity, plus Android Auto, it lets you hook up to the system in all the right ways and get going with ease.

The car’s proportions are almost instantaneously programmed into your awareness and you can simply get a move on without worrying about things like getting familiar with its dimensions. The petrol engine makes 83 PS and 113 Nm, and with its 850-kg-odd weight, the Ignis feels very peppy. Its wide track, front and rear, also endows it with a reassuring planted feel and that, coupled with its tall-ish design, is a good hand to play in the handling department. The Ignis is quick off the mark and feels nimble. The gearbox is sure and slots in nicely. Well-spaced ratios make it easier to live with, in city or highway. Our only gripes were the tyre noise at high speeds and the steering feel, which is quite numb.

For its intended application, it exceeds expectations. There are few cars out there that combine space, practicality and a long equipment list. However, that list also comes at a price. The petrol Alpha retails for R6.85 lakh and that’s without the options. That’s right; it has a bunch of customisation choices, especially with the ‘Tinsel Blue’ and ‘Uptown Red’ colours: a black roof, or even a white roof with the blue. You can also choose from a selection of roof-wrap patterns regardless of which exterior paint colour you choose. The base ‘Sigma’ Ignis starts from Rs 4.69 lakh. The Delta trim with the ‘Auto Gear Shift’ (AGS) costs Rs 5.87 lakh, all ex-showroom, Pune.

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