Not Your Grandma’s Suzuki Hatchback…

There have been a whole lot of acquainted rally automobiles in motion at Race Retro 2023 a few weekends again, however scattered amongst the same old suspects was one I’d by no means seen earlier than in individual.

The automobile in query was the diminutively-proportioned ex-JWRC Suzuki Ignis S1600, resplendent in its luminous yellow paint scheme.


Initially often known as the Tremendous 1600 (S1600) Drivers Championship, the FIA Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) has all the time sat within the shadow of the World Rally Championship. However whereas the principles are barely tapered down within the curiosity of value saving, it provides a massively aggressive means for drivers to shine on a global degree.

Suzuki JWRC SH 013

On the time this Suzuki competed, the JWRC laws have been pretty simple. Groups wanted to begin with a front-wheel drive automobile with a most engine capability of 1,600cc, and complex elements like sequential gearboxes have been tightly managed. Vehicles had a funds capped at US$100,000, and have been devoid of unique supplies.

In an effort to carry recent expertise to the world stage, the utmost age restrict for drivers and co-drivers was (and nonetheless is right now) set at 29 years. This formulation proved efficient, with the primary JWRC drivers champion none aside from Sébastian Loeb.

Suzuki’s works program was initially arrange by Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima of Monster Sport, who made his title behind the wheel of some loopy Suzukis constructed for the Pikes Peak Worldwide Hill Climb – together with the twin-engined Escudo that Dino featured again in 2014.

Suzuki JWRC SH 002

Tajima-san established Monster Sport Europe in Milton Keynes, from the place the Suzuki Motorsport works staff first campaigned the three-door Ignis S1600, then the five-door mannequin seen right here, earlier than switching over to the Swift S1600 in 2006.

Suzuki JWRC SH 039

The five-door Ignis S1600 platform was undoubtedly an outlier in comparison with different JWRC entrants on the time, however regardless of being bodily longer than the three-door equal, the wheelbase remained the identical.

Suzuki JWRC SH 012

The 1,600cc engine is predicated on a Suzuki 1,300cc block, because the 1,500cc block within the road-going Ignis Sport didn’t have sufficient materials between the bores to enlarge them. The four-cylinder places out 206hp at a heady 8,500rpm, despatched to the entrance wheels by a Hewland 6-speed sequential gearbox, actuated by the lever a brief attain from the steering wheel.

Suzuki JWRC SH 007
Suzuki JWRC SH 005

Whereas the permitted use of composites in JWRC was restricted, the Suzuki staff sought out weight financial savings in different methods. Any non-essential gadgets have been faraway from the inside, apart from the the manufacturing unit door playing cards. The staff even went to the extent of swapping all non structural bolts for aluminium equivalents. This introduced the Ignis S1600 right down to beneath the 950kg minimal weight, which allowed wonderful tuning of weight stability by including ballast again in.

Suzuki JWRC SH 006

In any other case, the inside is all enterprise. The sprint cluster is lengthy gone, changed with a centrally-mounted digital unit, with solely important data proper in entrance of the motive force. The obligatory cell phone – a Nokia 6210 on this case – stays, serving to to remind us that this automobile is now 20 years previous.


In tarmac trim, 17-inch Speedline wheels barely contained the 355mm entrance discs and Brembo Racing 4-pot callipers which give nearly all of stopping energy. These are paired with 278mm discs and 2-pot Brembo callipers on the rear. The opposite greatest distinction visually are the pumped up wheel arches – 70mm wider per facet to accommodate the bigger wheel and tyre bundle.


The automobile’s proprietor talked about in dialog that he additionally has the unique manufacturing unit assist van, which can shortly be recommissioned within the matching works color scheme. How cool is that?!

Rally is understood to have among the most devoted followers, however I’d exit on a limb to say among the most devoted individuals too. It takes a sure form of individual to not solely purchase a two-decade-old ex-works rally automobile, not to mention to drive it as supposed each alternative potential. To have a whole paddock full of homeowners that share that mindset – as was the case at Race Retro – is even higher.

Chaydon Ford
Instagram: chaycore