The 1.2-litre petrol Dualjet engine’s 89bhp may sound modest, but the Suzuki Ignis certainly doesn't feel lacking in power. We managed a very respectable 10.0sec in the 0-60mph sprint; that's better than a 1.0-litre Kia Picanto or any Dacia Duster could manage. There’s enough pull from low revs that you don’t have to keep changing gear to make decent progress, and, when you do need to use the Ignis's five-speed manual gearbox, it is precise enough to make the experience rather enjoyable; we have yet to try the optional five-speed auto gearbox, though.
The more expensive mild hybrid version of the 1.2 Dualjet engine provides a bit more go when setting off, thanks to a small electrical power boost. Overall, though, this doesn‘t make enough of a difference to everyday driving for it to be the engine to go for. We’d stick to the slightly cheaper non-hybrid 1.2-litre.
Other mechanical areas of the Ignis are less accomplished. Take its braking performance; it took 8.3m farther to stop from 70mph than a Kia Picanto X-Line. There’s a lot of travel to the brake pedal, too, and the brakes feel overly sharp and hard to modulate around town.
The steering, meanwhile, is inconsistently weighted, tending not to self-centre at town speeds, and the wheel can jerk noticeably if you encounter a sharp mid-corner ridge. There’s also much more body roll than you'll encounter in the best-handling city cars, such as the Picanto and the Volkswagen Up, although it certainly feels more agile than the Duster.
Still, the Ignis's low weight and compact dimensions help it at least feel manoeuvrable, and grip levels are reassuring. Its real trump card, though, is that you can opt for four-wheel drive to allow the Ignis to be taken off road. Okay, Suzuki's Allgrip technology is designed to help the Ignis cross muddy fields rather than traverse mountain ranges, but the fact that it's available in such a small car is impressive, as is the fact that it brings proper SUV gizmos such as hill descent control.
How does it ride? Well, the Ignis’s soft suspension set-up translates to a generally comfortable ride, acting to cushion wavy dips and crests. But the effect is marred by constant fidgeting over scruffy town roads and a thwack that reverberates through the body if you stumble across a sharp-edged pothole.
Refinement on the move is a mixed bag. The Ignis’s engine is always audible but never coarse, emitting a pleasantly sugar-coated note even when thrashed. Road noise at 70mph is apparent, but it’s the wind noise gusting around the windscreen pillars and door mirrors that’s most irksome on a prolonged jaunt along the motorway.