The Ignis comes with the same engine options as the Baleno and the Swift. I had a chance to sample the manual diesel first during a short spin in Chennai’s night traffic.
Though the drive was planned to experience the car’s LED lights and interior illumination, what I was really happy was the fact I was getting to drive the oil burner first. The 15km drive saw us finding our way through rush hour traffic with the roads hardly opening up to gather speeds above 60. What I could make out for sure was the lack of turbo-lag but average sound dampening for passengers. The steering wasn’t too light (the petrol has a lighter steering) but she turned out to be too frugal, even in traffic. And oh boy, is she flickable in traffic? Pick a gap and aim, and the Ignis follows your command.
The next day saw us stretching the diesel AMT’s legs on the excellent ECR (east coast road) highway that leads to Mahabalipuram from Chennai. This highway has turned from a dangerous single lane to a fast and easy multi-lane highway with a proper divider. The diesel Ignis makes use of the same 75 PS engine as seen in the DZire and not the 90 PS tune that is seen in the Ciaz. However, based on the light weight, all-new A platform means the Ignis weighs less and has a relatively good power to weight ratio. The AMT is the talking point here : yes, the DZire diesel also comes with an AMT but the Ignis is the most affordable diesel automatic you can buy in India.
A lot has been said about this combination on various websites. While there has been enough criticism, in my opinion, you can change gears manually as well which does take care of the shortcomings of an AMT to an extent. Leave the gearbox in normal mode and it goes about changing gears as per your driving style. Kick-down does take time I agree but overall, the benefits in terms of ease of driving cannot be overlooked. How often do you drive a diesel car fast on a daily basis? Got my answer?
In terms of outright revs, the AMT box sees the diesel Ignis hit 4500 rpm in 1st and 4000 rpm in 2nd. If you are manual mode, the engine will just keep spinning all the way till 5000+ without the AMT overriding you and up-shifting to the next gear.
The diesel AMT does not like to up-shift too early. For instance, in a manual Ignis, you can shift to 5th at 50kmph and potter around in town. Though this is not too good for the engine in the long run, many drivers do this for saving fuel. In the AMT version though, it will not up shift to the 5th gear till about 60km/h – probably in the interest of engine life. Another issue we found out (will be an issue in both petrol and diesel models) was the high wind noise creeping into the cabin at speeds of 100km/h and more. This was a big surprise as both the Baleno and S-Cross do not suffer from this issue.
In terms of economy, the diesel Ignis is rated at 26.8kmpl. We got an easy 22+ on the highway and this is possible due to a taller 5th cog. For instance, at 100km/h, the engine is spinning at just 2,250 rpm. At 80, this drops to 1,700 rpm.
Before heading for the airport, we did drive the petrol AMT too. This is the first time Maruti has mated the AMT with this K12 unit. This petrol engine itself has been a success in India, thanks to its rev happy nature. The AMT box compliments it for city usage – there is enough mid-range punch and again, you can shift gears manually whenever required. What I did not like though was the creep function on both the diesel and petrol units. Could have been a touch more smoother in operation.