Suzuki Ignis 1.5 VVT 4Grip | Shed of the Week

Shed is partial to an affordable off-roader, espeacially one heralding from Japan. But caution is advised…

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, 15 July 2022 / Loading comments

As we all know on PH, speed counts, unless the terrain prevents you from even starting off, when it counts for nothing. Shed often has a need to execute a speedy getaway from boggy ground, for example when disgruntled locals come round to his yard to have a quiet word with him about some terrible old heap he’s just sold them. 

For this reason he is a big fan of good all-wheel drive vehicles. Unfortunately almost of them are out of his wheelhouse. They’re either too expensive (Range Rover), too rusty (Hilux), too unreliable (Discovery 3), or too much of all three at the same time, with a generous side plate of awful thrown in (Defender). 

So he is quite taken by this week’s shed, a Suzuki Ignis 4Grip, as it combines the benefits of permanent all-wheel driveyness with a low price, a carefree sort of MOT history talking almost entirely about consumables, and a handy compactitude which would allow him to hide it behind the wood store in readiness for a nippy escape. However, for reasons which we’ll explain in a minute, he has decided to leave the purchasing field clear for keen PHers.

It’s nothing to do with the interior, which being extremely plasticky is period-correct. Nor is it to do with the fact that there’s more room in a mouse’s ear than there is in the back of an Ignis. If you don’t care about this sort of thing either you could do a lot worse than a 4Grip if you’re looking for an all-year round station car. 

They also make great rural runabouts if your routes involve plenty of single-track roads on which you are regularly confronted by sheep or other beasts of the field like Jeremy Clarkson in his enormous tractor. When faced with this kind of urgent need to get off the road as quickly as possible you will find the Ignis to be surprisingly capable. 

Because of its viscous coupling design, the one thing you didn’t have to worry about in an Ignis 4Grip was diff wind-up which could be a problem in other 4x4s. Over the years and after many painful frying pan strikes on the noggin by his beloved Mrs, Shed has learnt to avoid wind-ups of any kind, so he does like this element of the Suzuki’s design.

Thanks to its feathery weight of just 1,010kg it’s not that bad on the road either. Its 98hp 1.5 litre VVT engine would hustle it through the 0-60mph dash in ten and a bit seconds as long as you didn’t mind venturing into the aurally unrewarding 6,000rpm region where its 98hp skulked, never to be discovered by a single owner. With nice low change-ups you could easily top the combined fuel consumption figure of 39.2mpg, which was all right in its own, er, right. 

You do need to be quite careful with 4Grips from this period though. For a start you have to watch out for leaks from the viscous coupling. In chronological order this will result in nasty propshaft u/j wear, a failure to proceed, and a hefty repair bill. Early Freelanders had similar problems with their VCs. 4Grip transfer boxes can break too as a result of something as innocent sounding as manoeuvering out of a tight parking space, or any situation requiring you to turn the steering wheel a bit.  

You don’t want to tow or bump start a 4Grip either as these actions can kibosh the coupling, transfer box or rear diff. Shed remembers reading about this about ten years ago in, of all things, a 4Grip owner’s manual. Sadly he read it five minutes after he had dragged the vehicle containing it – a much-loved, low-mileage example owned by an ancient villager – into his workshop to try and sort out some other ailment on it. 

Even back then the replacement transfer box that he had to order for it was over a grand including the VAT. Luckily the dippy old dear who owned it paid the full bill without quibbling, Shed having convinced her that it had had that problem before he set eyes on it.   

So, all in all then, a great choice of vehicle if you’re looking for a tough, go-anywhere off-roader that you need to treat with kid gloves. A small market, certainly, but then you don’t get a lot for your £1,295 these days. If it lasts the length of the ticket (next July) you should be ahead of the game. Anything after that will be a bonus, Just don’t let Shed anywhere near it. 

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