SUZUKI hopes to add the Ignis mini crossover into its Australian line-up by about the end of the first quarter of 2017.
Not yet officially confirmed for this market, the high-riding light-car still has currency fluctuation and specification hurdles to overcome before an announcement can be made, according to Suzuki Automobiles Australia general manager, Andrew Moore.
“We really want to see the Ignis in Australia,” he said. “We hope we can confirm it very soon.”
To slot underneath the Vitara range released last year, the chunky Ignis would be classed in the small SUV category, despite being significantly smaller and lighter than the segment’s bestseller, the Mazda CX-3. That would put the base price well below the latter’s $19,990 ask.
Built in Japan, the monocoque-bodied Ignis combines crisp modern angularity with retro elements, recalling one of Suzuki’s most famous models internationally – the rear-engined rear-drive SC100 ‘Whizzkid’. Available from 1978 to 1982, it was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, but was never sold in Australia.
Although the newcomer is nearly 600mm shorter and 95mm narrower than a CX-3 Neo FWD at 3700mm and 1660mm respectively, it sits some 25mm higher with 180mm ground clearance. Some versions weigh as little as 880kg (versus 1193kg for the Mazda).
The powertrain most likely for Australia is a 67kW/118Nm 1.2-litre four-pot atmo unit, driving the front wheels via a CVT auto, though whether it would also come with the Japanese domestic market mild hybrid function – employing a small DC synchronous motor to add an additional 2kW – has not yet been divulged. There is also a part-time 4WD version available elsewhere.
Together with the imminent Suzuki Baleno light-to-small hatch, and the next-gen Swift due in 2017, Suzuki hopes the Ignis will help propel it past the 30,000 annual sales barrier by about 2018. Last year that figure was 19,000 units.
“Building on the success with Vitara, we’re aiming to hit the 30,000 mark with the help of Ignis and Baleno,” Moore said. “They would significantly broaden Suzuki’s appeal… helping us to become stronger.”
From the Latin for ‘fire’, the Ignis nameplate was used on a conceptually similar model sold in Australia from 2000 to 2005, before it was replaced by the reborn Swift. A jacked-up version of that car was also successfully supplied to Holden as the YG Cruze with on-demand 4x4 capability from 2002 to 2006.