Once, a ‘sports utility vehicle’ (SUV) was defined as a station wagon-type based on a light truck, usually with four-wheel drive, and used as a family vehicle.
Over time technology helped it shed its truck-like beginnings. Later it was joined by a ‘crossover utility vehicle’ (CUV), built on a passenger car platform instead of a light truck’s, with or without four-wheel drive, but with the features of an SUV.
Then a ‘sports activity vehicle’ (SAV) appeared. It was coined to describe a type of SUV that was judged to be more dynamic than an SUV.
The marketing gurus had come up with another abbreviation in a motoring world of alphabet soup. Thankfully, registrations in New Zealand of SUVs, CUVs, SAVs are filed by the NZ Transport Agency under a main heading: ‘Passenger cars’.
Further down the page they are broken out as SUVs: large, luxury, medium, compact. There are no cubby holes for CUVs and SAVs.
Suzuki’s new Ignis is a CUV, in that it’s based on the platform of a passenger car. But Suzuki describes it as a “super-compact five-door SUV that does not conform to conventional car designs.”
SUV? It’s about as far removed from the original definition as a Mack truck is from a Moped. But anything that falls under the SUV umbrella sells. Four out of 10 new cars sold in NZ in January were SUVs. Never mind that CUVs and SAVs were in the mix.
The Ignis is arguably the smallest SUV there ever was. The five-door, higher-riding hatchback is 3700mm long, around 150mm shorter than the Suzuki Swift. It has the same wheelbase as the Swift but is 85mm taller. The height includes a 180mm ground clearance, similar to the company’s larger SUV, the Vitara.
Suzuki NZ marketing manager Gary Collins says the ease of entry, good visibility and tight 4.7-metre turning circle will appeal to buyers. “Offering the design and space benefits of an SUV, it is better than traditional compact hatchbacks.”
Ignis has already proved something of a thrifty tourer. Suzuki trialed a five-speed manual version of the 66kW/120Nm 1.2-litre Ignis over a mixture of roads north of Auckland, where it returned 3.5litres/100km, or 80.7 mpg.
“This is likely to be a difficult figure to beat for any other petrol-engined car sold in New Zealand,” said Collins.
Three versions of the Ignis are on sale, either with a five-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The manual Ignis GLX starts at $18,990, the CVT automatic GLX at $20,500. The better equipped LTD with the CVT automatic is $22,500 or $22,990 when specified with a black roof.
The GLX rides on 15-inch alloys, the LTD on 16-inchers. There is no spare wheel – a ‘get home’ space saver is under a false floor in the 271-litre boot. Fold down both rear seats and 1104 litres becomes available
The LTD gets more goodies than GLX. Things like climate control air conditioning, keyless entry with push button start, touchscreen tuner with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a reversing camera.