Oh, dear. It’s another Suzuki article.
How can I introduce this cheeky, useful, honest and endearing car without alienating readers who prefer uncouth, useless, dishonest and off-putting cars? This time it’s the Mk2 Ignis, which I considered to be quite horrible when I first happened to see one many years ago, but which I now consider quite attractive. What changed? Obviously my own opinions and values shifted and I came to see the inherent worth of a car that made credible efforts to combine utility and unconventional looks. If you can’t see yourself in a 2CV then you could maybe imagine one of these instead (or a Yaris Verso Mk1).
You can read an Ignis Mk2 review here. The key sentence is the opener: “The Ignis is one of those forgotten cars, which only registers on the radar of a tiny number of buyers in the UK. That’s a shame as it’s a very credible package in the sub-supermini market. Its styling might fall into the forgettable category, but its rather boxy, utilitarian looks allow the Ignis to offer a surprising amount of interior space; it being one of only a handful of such diminutively proportioned cars to offer genuinely comfortable seating for four adults.” Does that not sound like a modern description of a 2CV? And here’s another line: “The interior might not offer the flexibility of some rivals, but few of them can offer the space and excellent value of the Suzuki.”
When I motor around the place I see Ignises all the time. A trawl in my memory banks leads me to the recollection that there was a time when the 2CV was a common sight. Putting the two thoughts together, I would hypothesize that the Ignis is now occupying that part of the used-car market that Citroën once did back in the 1990s with the 2CV. I might ask readers if they could nominate anything else for this segment over and above the Ignis and the Yaris Verso.
I hope I am not over-doing this line of reasoning when I suggest the Celerio is Suzuki’s latest bid to keep the latter-day eccentric-small-car-buyer happy for the forseeable future. Carwow offers this wisdom: “The Suzuki Celerio’s an inexpensive small car that’s roomier than most city cars and pretty frugal, but its interior feels dated and you get very little equipment as standard.” Sounds very 2CV to me.
For comparison, I also snapped the Ignis Mk 1. It has more of an industrial design look to it and if you squint you can see some vestigial similarities to the Suzuki Liana of the same period. They were being brave with all that blank metal around the rear lamp:
At the front, notice how the crease over the wheel arch continues into the headlamp housing:
So, if we look at Citroën’s own range, do we find a car that could conceivably be considered to be the 2CV of the present time? I don’t see anything that corresponds here at Citroën UK’s page. As I have said elsewhere, marques don’t have to carry on doing what they did in the past if it does not work for them any more. We can just note that Citroën is addressing a market for which I have no easy description.
I’d like also to note here that one way in which the current Mk3 Ignis and the Mk2 do share characteristics is that both have/had a 4×4 capability. The Mk1 also had a 4×4 version, but that was not exported to Europe. And the Mk2 also had a life as a Holden Cruze and Chevrolet Cruze and as a Subaru Justy.
By way of digresssion, I might mention that the Justy moved its nameplate onto the Daihatsu Boon and before the nameplate clung to Ignises, it was attached to the car we know as the Swift. Another bit of trivia is that Suzuki adapted features of the Holden re-design for its European model, adding some length to the car (mostly in the luggage area). I was not aware of this and will now try to find early and later versions of the Ignis to see what the difference looks like in the metal.
So, even if it’s a strangely styled pseudo-4×4 (and sometimes a real one), the Suzuki Ignis is quite a disarming sort of vehicle which does a lot with little demand for attention or resources. I have a feeling that the eccentric appearance of the Mk2 appeals for the same reason the 2CV did for the classic 2CV driver demographic: looking odd can be advantageous because, for a certain slice of the market, the idiosyncracy is a selling point and not a bug.