In the flight to Rome for the launch of the new Suzuki Ignis, I encountered my first ‘influencer’.
My new acquaintance was not Kim Kardashian or Taylor Swift, but his 11,000 Instagram followers qualify him as a recipient of free holidays, fashion and technology in return for online exposure.
His presence on the Ignis launch illustrates just how much Suzuki wants its new product to reach a millennial audience.
Suzuki’s European sales director, Masao Fujitani, believes the Ignis – back after an eight-year absence – creates a new segment, the A-segment crossover.
Suzuki aims to steal sales from the Citroën DS 3, Fiat 500 and Renault Twingo, but with the Ignis’s 180mm ground clearance and the option of four-wheel-drive – plus a mild hybrid drivetrain – the closest rival identified along the Italian test route was a Fiat Panda 4x4.
The Suzuki is cheaper than the Panda 4x4 at £9,999 for the entry-level SZ3, £11,499 for the SZ-T mid-grade and £12,999 for the range-topping SZ5.
Residual values at three years and 60,000 miles are £4,450 (39%) for the Ignis 1.2 SZ-T Dualjet MT (the volume model), increasing to £5,300 (46%) with half that mileage.
A 90PS 1.2 Dualjet engine claims 61.4mpg fuel economy and 104g/km CO2 emissions, does 0-62mph in 13.5 seconds and has a top speed of 106mph.
The SZ5 specification introduces Suzuki’s SHVS mild hybrid system, which boosts power by 2.4kW. SHVS adds just 6.7kg – in a car with a basic kerb weight of 855kg – and the result is 67.5mpg, 97g/km CO2 emissions and 0-62mph in 11.4 seconds.
AllGrip four-wheel-drive delivers the quickest Ignis, claiming 11.1 seconds to 62mph, but costs 9g/km and 5.6mpg.
All Ignis models feature DAB radio, Bluetooth, daytime running lights and privacy glass. The SZT adds roof rails, 16-inch alloys, a seven-inch touchscreen sat-nav infotainment system supporting Apple CarPlay and Mirrorlink and a reversing camera.
The rear seats slide forward by 165mm to expand the standard 267-litre boot.
The dual-camera brake support (DCBS) system standard on the range-topping SZ5 provides automated braking assistance, lane departure and weave warning systems and brings the Ignis up to a five-star Euro NCAP rating from three stars without.
The SZ5 also adds LED headlights and daytime running lights, cruise control and keyless entry and engine starting.
The Ignis’ styling represents Suzuki’s greatest departure.
A grille and headlights evocative of the Swift and old Grand Vitara look good, but the rear looks taller and more awkward. That said, the high roofline liberates impressive headroom.
The cabin is colourful and quirky, with the option of a largely white interior
complemented by orange or titanium-coloured highlights. Rocker switches add style, but the Ignis’ budget car status is evident in some flexy plastic surfaces.
On the road, the 1.2-litre felt a little slow to respond, the brakes did not deliver immediate bite and the steering was light.
The Ignis is more composed and assured at speed with the addition of the SHVS system’s added torque. The steering of the 4x4 SZ5 also boasts reassuring weight.
On the return flight, the ‘influencer’ told me his coverage would not include the Ignis’ specification or dynamics.
The truth is, most 25- to 30-somethings looking on Instagram for an A-segment car offering “something different” probably won’t be bothered either.
They should pay more attention. The Ignis serves up a lot of car in an affordable package.