India loves its SUVs. But what India also loves are smaller hatchbacks that look like SUVs in terms of their design characteristics. No, we aren’t talking about the cross-hatchback type design where a standard hatch gets some plastic fenders, we are talking about the butchness and flat-edged design that SUVs of the past and present of so successfully flaunted on the streets. This butch and upright design was also made popular by the tall boy design of the late 90s and early 2000s where we saw the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Wagon R and Hyundai Santro revolutionise the market. So what do you get when you merge the upright stance of a tall-boy hatchback with the butchness that’s usually found in an SUV? Well, Maruti seems to have the answer for that – the brand new Maruti Suzuki Ignis and it's already started to arrive at dealerships across the country and now that the car has been launched, we wait to find out how well it does.
Ignis Exterior Design
The Ignis has one of the most polarising designs that we have seen in recent times, but, you can’t deny the fact that as a car, it is quite striking. Lets start from the front. The Ignis gets a very large honeycomb grille that reminds us of the first generation Maruti 800. In fact even its basic contours are quite similar to the SS80 – only inverted. The fact that the headlamp cluster is inset into the grille also harks back to the first 800’s design. The headlamp itself has a projector setup and a LED daytime running light for the top of the line variants. The bumper has very simple and SUV like vertical slats and two large fog lamps on each side of the large opening. The upright muscular bonnet again lends an SUV-like design to the Ignis.
From the side profile, the Ignis has a very distinct stance – an almost front lean with the chunky C-pillar and the wide wheel arches that make the whole design very forward oriented. The wheel arches itself are flared just wide enough to make the car look wider than it actually is and the 15-inch wheels on the top of the line variant are painted in a shade of black.
Around the rear, the windscreen is heavily raked forward and the only design elements that we personally think could have been better tackled are the tail lamps. The rear bumper also has a black plastic cladding to break up the otherwise tall design on the Ignis. The Ignis also gets a set of roof rails painted in silver or black depending on the trim level.
Ignis Interior Design, Features and Space
If the exterior design doesn’t seem to attract you, the interior on the Ignis certainly will. In fact, the Ignis is by far the best designed Maruti we have even had in India. The dashboard features a large touchscreen infotainment system in the top of the line Alpha model while the Zeta mid-level variant will get a standard infotainment setup with Bluetooth, USB/aux and a CD player. The touchscreen infotainment system does get both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the first time in a Maruti vehicle and also for the first time in the segment.
The top of the line car also gets a climate control setup and toggle switch like controls which seem the be inspired from the likes of the Mini Coopers. The Ignis also gets a chunky gauge cluster with a large centrally mounted speedometer and a smaller tachometer for the top of the line variants. The gauge cluster also gets ambient lighting which can be customised.
Maruti has gone with a two tone colour for the interior plastic trim on the Ignis. The upper half of the dashboard and most of the door card is finished in black with faux carbon detailing on the AC vents. The lower half of the dashboard and the door card inserts on the other hand are finished in a shade of off-white.
What is most striking about the Ignis though is the fact that it is a lot more spacious than the likes of the Swift. The seats are well designed and are available only with a fabric option (different spec for diff variants) and sadly there is no leather option even for the top of the line cars as a factory fitment. As we mentioned a little earlier, the Ignis is very spacious on the leg space and of course on the headspace front when it comes to the rear seats. The Ignis also gets a very large boot despite having so much passenger space in the rear seats, which means that Maruti and Suzuki have reworked the package to really make the Ignis an ideal everyday vehicle. Click here to know more about which variant will get what equipment.
Ignis Engine and Gearbox
The Ignis is the second car to be built on the Baleno platform. The Ignis, just like the Baleno will get both petrol and a diesel engine. The petrol engine will be the same 1.2 litre 4-cylinder K12 enigne that does duty in the Baleno and the Swift. The diesel on the other hand is the 1.3 litre DDiS engine that again does duty in like likes of the Swift, Baleno and Ciaz. Both the engines will get a 5-speed manual gearbox. Expect the petrol manual to get a fuel efficiency figure of around 20 kmpl with the diesel expected to return a mileage of about 24-25 kmpl.
For the first time in this segment, both the petrol and diesel engine will be equipped with a AMT gearbox. Maruti’s AMT unit or as they call it, AGS – Auto Gear Shift is made by Magneti Marelli and is mounted over the standard manual 5-speed gearbox to essentially make them a 5-speed automatic. Sadly, the AMT is not available in the top of the line Alpha variant and will only be available on the Delta and Zeta variants. To know more about the AMT gearbox variants and what they will offer, click here.
Ignis Competition and Rivals
The Ignis is essentially going up against the likes of the KUV100 from Mahindra in the micro SUV category and the likes of the Grand i10 in the hatchback category. Amongst its own product family, the Ignis will also go up against the higher spectrum of the Celerio and even the Suzuki Swift which is currently winding down to get ready for the next gen that will be launched later this year.
It will be interesting to see how the Ignis will cannibalise Maruti’s own product portfolio with the new generation interiors attracting the millennial audiences. We personally think that the Ignis is the perfect spiritual successor to the likes of the Wagon R too with its tall-boy design and practical interior space. We also expect many current Alto and Wagon R customers to upgrade to the Ignis apart from the first time young buyer who is Maruti’s primary customer. This is also why Maruti is heavily relying on platforms like Twitter to promote the Ignis.
Ignis Launch Date and Expected Price
The Maruti Suzuki Ignis will be launched on January 13, 2017 and should be priced aggressively. Of course, the Ignis will be available only in Nexa dealerships and will be the third product offering from Maruti Suzuki’s premium dealership. We expect the petrol prices to start at about Rs 4.50 lakh and to go up to about Rs 6.00 lakh for the manual gearbox variants. Expect the Ignis AMT petrol models to start at about Rs 5.5 lakh for the entry level variant and go up to about Rs 6.0 lakh for the most expensive.
The diesel variants with the manual gearbox should ideally begin at about Rs 5 lakh for the base model to about Rs 6.5 lakh for the top of the line Alpha variant. The diesel automatic or AMT models should ideally begin at about Rs 6 lakh for the cheapest variant with the top of the line diesel automatic Zeta variant priced at about Rs 6.5 lakh. At this price point, the Ignis will overlap the higher variants of the Celerio and the low-mid variants of the Swift. That said, considering the fact that the Swift will be discontinued in the next few months to make way for the next generation (which will be slightly more expensive) should not affect sales too much for these models.