Maruti Ignis Diesel: Detailed Review
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With a stand-out design and many segment-first features, the Ignis is sure to be on your shopping list. But, is it just eye candy or a fitting companion for your long and tedious daily commute?
So you’ve just landed yourself a great job in the big city and are looking for a car to make the daily commute a bit more enjoyable. Also, weekend drives to a nearby hill station would be part of the plan too. Wouldn’t it? For that you’d want something that’s a bit of an all-rounder, easy to drive, kind to your wallet and has a cool quotient too. The Maruti Ignis is certainly cool, but is it a sensible companion worthy of your hard-earned cash?
First off, there’s nothing to differentiate the petrol from the diesel. NEXA cars have no variant or engine badging, but either way, what you get is a car that looks quirky and unique. While it doesn’t stand all that tall, it manages to look tough and the 180mm of ground clearance helps too. What really stand out on the range-topping Alpha variant are the daytime-running LED rings, which, especially at night, make the Ignis easy to spot in the rearview mirror. Additionally, the segment-first LED headlights offer fantastic illumination.
The chrome outline on the front grille makes this already attention-grabbing car look flashy, while the 15-inch black alloy wheels look lip-smacking good. It pulls off the crossover look convincingly and there’re a few throwback elements like the rubber strip on the bonnet (like the original Vitara) and the three slashes on the C-pillar (like the Fronte Coupe) that bring some retro to this modern car.
Even the tail lights look old-school, and the chunky black insert in the rear bumper makes the car look tough, if not pretty. A big draw for the Ignis is the customizability Maruti is offering. So, apart from the peculiar design, what young buyers will like is the long list of personalization options.
Like the exterior, the interior can be matched to individual tastes too, with everything from ambient lighting to body-coloured panels offered. Vanity aside, the practicality’s great too, with doors that open really wide and seats that sit at an height that will make it easier to step in and out of the cabin.
Older occupants are sure to appreciate this, while new drivers and shorter drivers will appreciate the driving position which is higher than on most hatches and thus gives you a better view of the road ahead. Furthermore, the driver’s seat height can be adjusted, and along with the tilt adjustable steering wheel, finding a good driving position is easy.
What’s cool about the cabin is its look. The dashboard is rather slim and the AC vents have been sandwiched in between. There isn’t really a centre console as such. The lower half is aircraft-inspired, with the toggle and rocker switches of the climate control system being good in terms of usability and quality. Smack dab in the middle is the SmartPlay touchscreen infotainment system we’ve seen in everything from the Ciaz and Ertiga to the Baleno and S-Cross, but a slightly driver-centric placement would’ve been nice.
The seats are very supportive and there’s ample room all around even for bulky and tall occupants. That said, place two tall occupants one behind the other and the person up front can feel the rear passenger’s knee jut into his back through the slim seatbacks.
And that’s what’s not cool about the Ignis. Things like the slim seat cushioning and average plastic quality take away from the premium feel. The black-white dual tone trim also seems out of place and the shut-lines on the white plastic panels are all too obvious. The cabin may have a “feel-unique” factor, but there isn’t enough of the feel-good factor.
The SmartPlay infotainment system has the same functionality as seen in many other Maruti cars. It comes with a seven-inch touchscreen, SD card navigation by Nokia HERE, and the user interface is easy to understand. The functionality is boosted with the presence of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and voice commands are understood easily too, even with our Indian accents.
The six-speaker sound system, though, could have offered better sound quality. The speakers tend to jar at higher volumes -- they sound a rather flat and we would’ve liked better separation between the highs and mids.
We tested the Ignis diesel immediately after driving the petrol and the first thing you notice is the difference in refinement. While the petrol is butter-smooth, vibrations from the 1.3-litre diesel engine are evident in the cabin. Things do smoothen out on the move, but the car could definitely do with better cabin insulation.
With 190Nm of torque available from just 2,000rpm, city driving is a breeze but you need to move up and down the gears quickly. You see, there is a fair amount of turbo lag, so it’s not perfectly linear or smooth to drive. For example, if you’re moving from a lane that’s crawling to a lane with fast-moving traffic, you won’t get up to speed immediately. Even if you slam the pedal to avoid slowing down cars behind you, there’s a wait till around 1,800rpm before the Ignis finally picks up the pace. It’s then that you get a sudden surge and if traffic in front of you slows down again, it means you have to brake that much harder.
That said, like we noted in our first drive review, the Ignis is still a decent city car to drive and even the diesel’s clutch is light enough to make stop-and-go traffic hassle-free. At crawl/city speeds, there’s enough torque available to keep accelerator inputs to a minimum.
The car’s also fun to drive and we managed to execute the 0-100kmph sprint in 12.85 seconds. Not exceptional, but decent by segment standards. In-gear acceleration is decent too and it managed to go from 30-80kmph (3rd gear) in 8.8 seconds. Admittedly, it would be quicker by a second or so had it not been for the turbo lag.
With its light weight (940-960kg) and efficient engine, the Ignis achieved a great fuel economy of 15.87kmpl in the city and 23.08kmpl on the highway during our road tests. Speaking of which, its performance on the highway is impressive and the car manages to hit and maintain triple digit speeds without breaking a sweat.
On the ghats, the engine will have to be kept on the boil to avoid dipping below the turbo-zone, but once you’re on the open road, there’s ample muscle available at the top-end and high-speed overtakes don’t need much planning. The Ignis diesel is a decent inter-city tourer too and though there’s good fun to be had going flat out, it’s equally happy cruising too.
Ride and Handling
The Ignis diesel is more front-heavy than the petrol, but the suspension is equally sporty. It’s not as chuckable as say, the Swift, and there are hints of body-roll. Additionally, the Ecopia tyres offer average grip, so hard cornering isn’t its forte. However, it manages most bad roads without getting unsettled and offers good high speed stability too.
The steering doesn’t offer much feedback, but it’s quite precise and the Ignis is very quick to change directions. The car just loves to snake through lane after lane, especially when traffic is light. It’s not an out-and-out enthusiast’s car, but it’s definitely good fun to drive.
The brakes offer good bite too and a hard braking test saw the car go from 100-0 kmph in 3.23 seconds over 42 metres – almost identical to the lighter petrol AMT. However, like the petrol AMT, the car does squirm a bit when you stomp the stop pedal and isn’t as planted as we’d have liked under panic braking.
Maruti’s DDiS190 engine still has a fair amount of turbo lag and it isn’t the “perfect” city car to drive. Additionally, the average interior quality is a downer, especially when you consider the standout design.
However, this is by no means a form over function car and it loses no traditional Maruti traits i.e. it’s a great combination of efficiency, ergonomics, features and practicality. The powertrain may not be perfect for the city, but offers a brilliant mix of city and highway capabilities. There’s ample cabin space for a family and no glaring feature omissions.
At Rs 6.39-7.80 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi, the Ignis diesel seems expensive, but when you consider the standard safety kit and features offered in the lower variants, it’s actually good value. It’s easy to manoeuvre in choked city traffic, stable and sprightly on the highway and is fun to drive too. The funky packaging is just the cherry on top.