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Maruti Suzuki Ignis 1.3 Diesel Automatic First Drive Review

What is it?

Maruti Suzuki Ignis 1.3 Diesel Automatic

As we mentioned in our review of the petrol-powered version of the Maruti Suzuki Ignis (read here), this urban, crossover like hatchback is a ‘want’ and not really a need. But, as history has shown us, particularly in the car space, wants turn into needs in quick time. How else can one justify vehicle niches turning into full-blown segments?

Now, compared to the petrol powered Ignis we reviewed earlier, this one is more for high mileage users. It gets the same 1.3-litre diesel engine that powers most of the Maruti diesel range. Under the Ignis’ hood, it comes in the lower 75bhp tune. You can have the diesel Ignis with a manual transmission as well, which also means you can opt for the top of the line Alpha trim. But for the automatic, which is essentially an AMT ‘box, the best you can do is Zeta, a spec lower than the Alpha and Maruti’s way to keep the pricing enticing.

How is it on the inside?

Maruti Suzuki Ignis 1.3 Diesel Automatic

In terms of design and freshness, the Zeta is at par with the Alpha. The same slab like dash, jutting out aircon unit, a mix of shapes all over from circles to rectangles to octagons and cylinders, and the same bland but functional instrumentation. But, not having touch screen, climate control and crucially all-LED headlamps does take some spunk away from the Ignis Zeta.

Maruti Suzuki Ignis 1.3 Diesel Automatic

What continues to be good though is the knee and headroom on offer, comfy seats, practical storage options and decent visibility. But, because this is a diesel, in-cabin insulation is nowhere as good as the petrol powered Ignis. Also something that all Ignis models lack is the consistency in plastic quality. The dash top looks expensive even though it is hard plastic. The same can’t be said about the lighter, lower half of the dash. Ditto for the door handles all round and in fact the seat fabric looks cheap too.

Maruti Suzuki Ignis 1.3 Diesel Automatic

In terms of equipment, all Ignis variants get dual airbags and ABS, which is great. Additionally, these models also meet future frontal offset and side impact crash test norms. But, some crucial comfort and convenience equipment is missing on the Zeta. So, apart from not having touchscreen and a digital climate control system, the Zeta trim also misses out on height adjustable driver’s seat, coloured coordinated insides and a reversing camera.

Maruti Suzuki Ignis 1.3 Diesel Automatic

How does it drive?

Maruti Suzuki Ignis 1.3 Diesel Automatic

To bring things in perspective lets compare it with the petrol Ignis. For one, the diesel is noisier, both inside and out. But, that’s expected; it’s just the nature of fuel the two engines use. The engine, 75bhp, 1.3-litre, four cylinder, Fiat developed unit, also has that typical turbo boost surge we have gotten used to now. Thankfully, it isn’t as pronounced as on the manual car, but it’s there.

Maruti Suzuki Ignis 1.3 Diesel Automatic

Now, Maruti already uses this setup on the Swift Dzire – the 1.3-litre diesel mated to the AMT. But, the ECU mapping on the Ignis is different. It had to be given the different nature and weights of the cars. The ratios for the gearbox have been altered as well, and not just the final drive, but also the full range. The end result isn’t too impressive though. When driven with a light progressive throttle, the Ignis diesel AMT responds as expected, reasonably smooth upshifts with little shift shock. The downshifts under braking aren’t a cause for bother either.

Maruti Suzuki Ignis 1.3 Diesel Automatic

It’s when you start driving aggressively that things begin to go down hill. In kickdown (when one floors the throttle) the Ignis diesel AMT drops gears is decent time, but it seems to dump the clutch after the change instead of letting it out progressively for smoother transition; needless to say, the shift shock is quite distinct. The shifts, especially going down the gearbox, aren’t as predictable on throttle inputs either.

The petrol AMT on the other hand is a dream. The throttle response is more alert; the shifts are a lot smoother; and it makes driving in city traffic a far less tedious affair than the diesel, especially when you are in a hurry.

Maruti Suzuki Ignis 1.3 Diesel Automatic

Should I buy one?

If it’s a diesel hatch you want without the hassle of shifting gears or using the clutch, well you don’t have much of an option. Ignis is the only car in this niche. And it’s a decently practical one too. Good interior room, a sizable boot, easy ingress/egress, and an engine that has a proven track record. Sure, we didn’t like the AMT setup much, but if you leave early plan better and use the throttle judiciously, it’s an acceptable drive. So, yes, it’s certainly worth considering even though the cheaper Delta version will set you back by Rs 8.5 lakh on the road and the Zeta by over Rs 9 lakh.

Maruti Suzuki Ignis 1.3 Diesel Automatic

Where does it fit in?

As was the case with the petrol Ignis, the diesel’s main competitor remains the Hyundai Grand i10. The Ford Figo diesel at a lesser price point makes for a good option too. And then there’s the sibling rivalry in the Swift. However, the one big plus the Ignis has is its efficient auto ‘box mated to a diesel engine. That alone puts it in a unique space of its own. The next set of diesel auto hatchback options you have then start at Rs 25 lakh!

Maruti Suzuki Ignis 1.3 Diesel Automatic

Pictures by Kapil Angane

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Maruti Suzuki Ignis Price In Popular Cities

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 5.25 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 4.98 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 5.29 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 5.41 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 5.5 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 5.09 Lakhs onwards
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