Suzuki Ignis I or more like Suzuki Swift+? Wrong, the Suzuki Ignis I is the official “it can happen to the best of us” car. Still, it remains an excellent urban warrior and somewhat off-road capable small car.

Launched somewhere around 2002 in Europe as a Swift on stilts, the Ignis was a car that had every reason not to sell:

  • It was designed by Holden, GM’s Australian division, for Australia and Japan, so it was more of a local stunt. It was an important step for them however as it was the first GM car to be built in Japan in 60 years. Oh and they also did a collab with Subaru, who launched their own version of the Ignis called the Subaru Justy.
  • The looks were so bad it suddenly made Lester Green attractive. Basically, that was one of the main factors that contributed to the Ignis’ failure in Europe. But it did thrive however in Hungary, where it gained abit of a cult, much like it’s sister Swift which became their national car.
  • Then you had a basic model which was as rich as Sir Patrick Stewart’s hair. The entry level version was dressed up skimpier than Deauxma in her educational films, and the bell and whistles version was as dresed as Kate Moss in her educational photoshoot for Playboy.
  • And then you get the coup de grace, the kick in the nads, that the Ignis is not the most reliable Suzuki possible. Basically, reliability used to be your strong point for buying a Suzuki, and here you don’t get it. It’s like buying Primator beer and finding out it’s got 3% ABV.


What are you left with in the end?

The Suzuki Ignis I remains an inexpensive city car that handles curbs, potholes, craters, and forest roads with flying colors. That’s because it’s one of the smallest 4×4 cars on the market and its only direct rival remains the Suzuki Jimny. Except the Jimny is two times more expensive and comes with only 2 doors, unlike the Ignis which has 4 doors. Okay, it’s not as capable as the Jimny either, but it still does the job honorably and it’s good enough for most people. There would be the Panda 4×4 too as a contender, but that came too late for the Suzuki Ignis I. So if you take into consideration all the positive things, I think that you can overlook the looks that makes you want to drink Fairy and end it all.


Suzuki Ignis I Engines


  • 1.3 M13A of 88 horsepower  – This is the most popular engine you’ll find in Europe and there’s nothing wrong with it. A decent, chain-driven engine, this 1325 cubic centimeter Lilliputian has seen heavy use in the Suzuki Jimny since 2000 so I have nothing but good things to say about this engine.
  • 1.5 M15A of 109 horsepower – The same M family engine, this M15A proved to be another reliable engine, but completely non-existent on the Suzuki Ignis I. That’s because switching to this engine effectively doesn’t justify the price so no one bought it.


1.3 D13A DDiS 75 horsepower – This Fiat sourced engine is one of the village bicycles of the automotive world. I say it because this engine has been used by Fiat, Chevrolet, Opel, Citroen, Peugeot, Suzuki, Tata Motors, and Ford. In particular, this 75 horsepower version has also been fitted to the Opel Corsa C, Fiat Punto, or Suzuki SX4. A simple, robust, and economical engine that has only occasional EGR issues.


Suzuki Ignis I Common Issues

  • The main issue is with the equipment level. Between the entry level version and the bells and whistles version, you get alloy wheels and a complementary picture with Patrick Stewart. The low price is also justified by the lack of equipment, which limits the Ignis mostly to the city drive.
  • Wierdly enough the front-wheel drive could be mated to an automatic gearbox, while the 4×4 version only came in standard manual gearbox flavor. That’s because a 4×4 automatic version would not have met EU emissions standards. What’s more, the automatic gearbox is actually a robotized manual gearbox, and it’s not that automatic either. Not that reliable either. Kind of like Toby Flenderson, who works for corporate so he is not really a member of our family. He’s also recently divorced so he’s not really a member of his family. 
  • Petrol engines are addicted to revs in the same way that I am addicted to minimal music. 
  • The interior plastics are worthy of a college dorm so make sure you can put up with a simpler life and interior. Although, if you only use the car for home-work-home as it was designed for, you shouldn’t have any issues.


Suzuki Ignis I Verdict

A brilliant car but one that many avoid because of the looks that urge you to pour some cyanide in your eyes. Or listening to 3 hours of Cardi B live singing. Or drinking a non-alcoholic beer. If I had to describe this car, I’d say a more civilized, more sensible, more practical Suzuki Jimny. It’s not as capable off-road, but it still knows a thing or two. It’s got four doors, so it’s more practical. If you can still get past the visual impact that hits you in the back of your head, you really have one of the first cross-over cars. All the way back in 2000, centuries before the Polo Cross or Fiesta Trail. And cheaper, more capable, and more reliable.

What engines do you recommend? You’re only going to find the 1.3 petrol and 88 horsepower in our market anyway, so don’t fret and wet your pants hoping for a 75 horsepower 1.3 DDiS, another excellent engine.