But plenty of ye olde Fosse Way is still accessible, in some ways more so to a Suzuki Ignis with Allgrip than a Land Rover Discovery 4. I spent two days polishing scratches out of the Discovery’s paintwork after driving down some of these lanes, but the Ignis is only 1690mm wide and a tiny 3700mm long, which means that it slips through gaps that other off-roaders cannot.
Does this make it a surprising good off-road package? Well, let’s be blunt, no. For the record, the approach, departure and breakover angles are 20, 38.3 and 19.2 degrees respectively, which sounds fine, but we’d only taken two photographs before a little rubber strip beneath the Ignis’s bumper was pulled clean off (albeit easily reattached), despite a 180mm ground clearance.
When we reach the ford I put in a call to Suzuki and ask if they quote a wade depth. There’s a pause on the line, which I infer means that just asking the question indicates that what I’m contemplating isn’t a great idea. The exhaust pokes out below the rear bumper and, although the air inlet is halfway up the grille and then rises further on its way to the inlet manifold, I figure there’s the mild hybrid system to consider too.
So like a nervous toddler I splash around in the shallows for a while instead, and then play in the mud. All with relative impunity: at 920kg, this Ignis is barely heavier than a big horse and has a softer footprint, too, so doesn’t leave too much behind it.
No, this is not a car for serious off-road antics, but it’ll likely get further than most owners would dare to take it, plus it’ll be quite a lot of fun in the meantime.
And when you do leave the rough behind? Well, then it’s a compact crossover made by Suzuki, with all the mix of oddities and normalities that entails. Because it is a short car, it needs an upright driving position in order to free up legroom in the rear, so that’s what it gets. The interior is imaginative by Suzuki’s standards but pretty vanilla by anybody else’s. The engine is a zingy, fizzy unit, the five-speed manual ’box is genuinely snicky, and the dynamics are… well let’s not dwell too seriously on those, because it doesn’t matter. Yes, the steering is weighty and vague and the ride a curious mix of softness and fidget, although I’d suspect the latter is better on two-wheel drive versions.
Plus, in other oddity news, that 4WD system means the boot is small and so is the fuel tank. When it was down to the last of ten bars on the fuel gauge, I still only got 26 litres into it.
Dynamically and objectively, then, the Ignis is in some ways a peculiar little car, and in other ways an entirely normal one. The sensible thing to do would be to buy a Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo, but you know what? I don’t give a damn if you don’t do that. Lots of Suzukis feel quirky yet old-fashioned, and this is one of them. With that comes a refreshing dose of… well, ‘honesty’ isn’t the right word, but it’s the first one that comes to mind.
This is a sub-£14,000 car even in its highest specification, and it has personality. As we know, personality goes a long way. Just not, perhaps, as far as you’d think when it’s muddy.