I’ve never admitted to this before, but many years ago, when I was a starving freelance writer living in a freezing garret, I wrote the sales brochure for the then-new Suzuki Liana.
‘Liana’ was a name that baffled many people. It was actually meant to stand for Life In A New Age, which seemed like a bit of a stretch if you actually drove one. There was never really a sense of moving into a new and utopian age of man, more that you were driving around in a small clunky car with a face like a freshly kicked arse. Suzuki Flafka would have been quite a good name, in fact.
‘Ignis’ sounds like another silly acronym. It’s Great Now In Suzuki, or something. In fact it’s derived from ignis fatuus, the scientific name for a will-o-the-wisp, or friar’s lantern. This is the ghostly light seen over marshland, caused by the release of trapped gasses, especially methane. So there you go. It’s the Suzuki Fart.
All Suzukis have terrible interior door trim and smell funny, not just the Fart. But apart from that, it’s really rather good.
This one is the range-topping SZ5 SHVS, SHVS standing for Shit Happens Vehicle System. Not really, it’s Smart Hybrid Vehicle (by) Suzuki. The ‘mild’ hybrid system (their word; it’s not an aggressive hybrid that knocks your pint over and then kicks your head in) comprises a simple starter/generator and a double-A battery under the passenger seat. The whole lot weighs only 6.2kg, and the whole car is commendably light at 920kg. If you choose the basic fwd version, it’s just 855kg. Bashin’.
This is not a Prius. The hybrid stuff is just something that’s there. You can’t drive it on pure electric power, it just goes, like a car. Even the simple dash graphic showing how electrical energy is flowing looks as though it was drawn by the people who did BBC Ceefax in the 1980s.
Blah blah blah. It’s a car, and it might work quite well off road, like the Jimny did, because it’s so light, and can skip around like a randy goat. It has a hill descent system. I haven’t tried any of this, because deliberately driving off road is like owning a kitchen and then deliberately having a barbeque.
What I have done is drive around in the Fart as if it were my car, and it’s really good. The engine (1.2 litres) is quite sweet, the hybrid system is seemingly effective but ignorable, it rides well, it’s well equipped, it looks amusing, and it comes in whacko colours. It weighs bugger all and costs from £9,600 to £13,600. It must be made from cheese and full of helium.
Best of all, though, it feels incredibly good-humoured. Farting is still funny, and so is this car.
Photo credit: Slack-Boy Zander