Funky styling and tiny dimensions don’t shriek “farm vehicle” but Charlie Flindt finds this model could be the perfect farm runaround – with the odd modification
Charlie Flindt is impressed by the Suzuki Ignis Allgrip, and finds it could fill a gap that countryfolk of the shires have been waiting for – but, no, not the Defender.
For another runaround that, though bottom of the range, proves itself a fun drive, read our review of the Hyundai i20 1.2S.
SUZUKI IGNIS ALLGRIP
Throughout rural Britain, countryfolk are waiting to see what machine will finally step in to fill the gap left by one of the most practical and competent 4x4s that the muddy shires have ever seen. No, not the Defender. I mean the Mk1 Fiat Panda 4×4.
It was a legend among the mud-plugging cognoscenti: light, nimble, go-anywhere but highly susceptible to rust and unreliability. But, then again, it was a 1980’s Fiat. There have been more Pandas, of course, but none has recreated the simple charm of the original.
Suzuki’s small 4x4s have come closest to the Panda spirit but even they haven’t had the same attraction – until now. The new Ignis has been fitted with Suzuki’s highly successful all-wheel drive system, and the result is a little cracker.
The styling could be described as funky, kooky or just plain odd. It all sort of works, even if the triangles at the upper rear quarters resemble a famous Swiss chocolate bar. The wheels are pushed out about as far as they could be at each corner without approach and departure angles becoming obtuse. It takes some time to adjust to the Suzuki’s tiny dimensions. You think you’re about to reverse into a tractor when, in fact, there are yards to spare.
The inside is a real surprise. My 6ft 5in lad climbed in, grumbling, fully anticipating having to wedge his knees round his ears for the journey, but, instead, found he could unfold, butterfly-like, and still have headroom to spare after emerging from his virtual teenage cocoon. He tried his best to grasp the intricacies of the “infotainment” system but failed; it was nearly wrenched from the dashboard and thrown out of the window.
On the road, the little engine is a bit wheezy, running out of puff too soon, but it’s just about up to the job. As one expects from Suzuki, all the controls are light and easy, and I liked the basic dashboard.
Off-road is where the Ignis really shines. The unfashionably narrow tyres give astonishingly good grip and the “Allgrip” system works away efficiently and silently. Responsible off-roading while checking the sticky stubbles becomes a bit of a challenge. I’m not sure I convinced the ghosts of the farm that four-wheel drifts are a proper way to check soil moisture content. And when the Good Lord sends another heap of spring snow, the Ignis makes majestic progress through the slush and drifts. Meanwhile, all around, two-ton monstrosities with a billion horsepower and foot-wide tyres flap and flail, leaving you bursting with feelings of uncharitable smugness.
The first thing I did with my Panda 4×4 back in ’86 was lift out the rear seat, put an old carpet in the back and make it a farm run-around. Suzuki should do the same thing: lose the rear seats, blackout what’s left of the rear windows, give it a proper liner and transform it into a little 4×4 van. And then knock the VAT off the list price, of course. Never mind we Panda fans; I reckon one or two Defender nuts might be tempted, too.
Suzuki Ignis Allgrip
♦ Engine: 1,242cc petrol
♦ Power: 90PS
♦ Max speed: 103mph
♦ Performance, 0 to 62: 11.5 seconds
♦ Combined fuel economy: 60.1mpg
♦ Insurance group: 18E
♦ Price: £15,499