Maruti’s first attempt in the MPV segment, the Versa, with Junior and Senior Bachchans as the brand ambassadors turned out to be another passable film at the Box-Office. Maruti later corrected the error with the Eeco, a stripped-down commuter version of Versa priced slightly lower than the Versa. This changed the fortunes of the car and it now sells in large numbers.
Riding on the success of the Eeco, Maruti has launched a new car “The Ertiga” Branded as a Life Utility Vehicle (LUV) and positioned as an alternative to sedans, the Vehicle is targeted at the urban buyer. It has 3 rows of seats in a compact body and marks the beginning of the Luxury Compact MPV segment in India.
The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga is expected to be car-like in its characteristics as it has a monocoque construction and is based on the competent swift platform. The car looks promising but is it good enough to be a winner?? How will people react to this car?? And will Maruti get the first mover Advantage in this new Segment?? We test drove the Diesel Ertiga and here are the answers.
DESIGN AND STYLING
When you speak about MPVs the looks are not that important a factors as interior space and comfort but the front of the Ertiga is very much car like and is good looking. The bonnet and the grille are reminiscent of the Ritz and the large sweptback headlamps dominate the front of the car.
The round Fog lamps are surrounded by large black colour claddings which along with the sculpted lower tip of the bumper give the car a distinctive look. The chrome finished Suzuki logo sits right in the centre of the grille like in most cars from the Maruti stable. Steeply raked windshield and large air-dam are the other prominent features of the design.
The length of the car is 4265mm and when you move to the side, you immediately notice that the car isn’t very long. You also notice the pronounced wheel arches which house the 15 inch wheels. The outer rear view mirrors are electrically adjustable and come equipped with side turn indicators which are embedded in it.
A shoulder line running through the side of the car and the blackened out pillars are other design touches. The slightly swooping roof line and the rear quarter glass add a bit of character to the side profile. There is nothing special about the rear of the car and at best it can be described as simple. There are few smart touches though such as the rear spoiler, reflectors embedded in the bumper and a V shaped formed right in the centre of the tailgate which includes the rear number plate housing. Overall the Ertiga looks more a like a raised hatchback from the front but the rear is more of MPVish.
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Step inside the car and you will find the inside a familiar territory. The dashboard, steering wheel, gear lever and instrumental clusters are directly lifted from the Swift Dzire. You get the same V-shaped waterfall type centre console with integrated music system from the Swift which dominates the centre console and looks good. The air-vents, Air-con controls and most of the switches are also lifted from the Swift. This is not necessarily a bad thing as the interiors like the exterior are modern and car like which is indeed a very good thing for a car which is looked upon as an MPV. The silver finish around the air-vents, silver strip on the dashboard and front door look good too. The VDI and top End ZDI variants are equipped with roof mounted AC vents with adjustable blower speed.
The Ertiga has decent amount of storage space. The door pockets aren’t generous but do come with medium sized bottle holders and even the last row get bottle holders. The glove-box is medium sized but there are quite a few places to store small items like the scooped out slot above the glove-box on the dashboard, area ahead of the gear lever and slots near the bottle holders in the third row.
The boot with all 3 rows up can at max hold couple of soft bags but depending upon the requirement the third row and the second row of seats can be folded to liberate more space. The boot also has under-floor storage space which is quite useful. Overall the interiors are very car like and storage space isn’t exceptional but is sufficient for most needs.
SPACE AND COMFORT
Step inside the car and you will be surprised with the amount of space that’s on offer. It is really hard to imagine this considering the length of the car and the Suzuki Engineers need to be applauded for their work in generating so much space on the inside. The space utilization on this car is its forte. The beige fabrics and the large glass area also enhance the feeling of roominess.
Despite being tall the Ertiga has a low floor thus unlike most other MPVs you literally walk into the car rather than climbing into one. As far as comforts goes the front seats are well bolstered and are very comfortable and are equipped with height adjustable seatbelts. Side and back support is good and so is the thigh support. The steeply raked front windshield is placed quite far in the front and this adds to the sense of space in the front.
Moving to the rear you will notice that the doors are large and Ingress and Egress is easy. The Rear seats are supportive, have good amount of space and good under-thigh support. The middle row gets a centre armrest and the seat back can be reclined via a lever near the shoulder for more comfort on long drives.
The width of the car is not very generous but seating three abreast in the middle row is quite comfortable. The absence of the central tunnel also helps here. Fold the middle row with the help of a lever and you get access to the third row of seats.
The best thing about the third row of seats is that you don’t have to sit in a knees-up position, there is sufficient amount of headroom and the seats themselves are supportive and comfy. Ok the third row seats aren’t ground breaking and do lack in under-thigh support but they are useable and better than those on some of the Larger MPVs.
The middle row has 60:40 split seats which can be individually slid a massive 240mm on its rails to generate acres of legroom for the middle row passengers or to generate more room for the third row of passengers. The sliding mechanism needs special mention as it is very flexible and you always seem to find the right amount of space for both the 2nd and 3rd row of seats. Everything is not perfect though, the middle row seats fold but don’t tumble and getting in out of the third row isn’t that convenient. The seat cushioning too is on the softer side for our liking.
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The base diesel Ertiga ie. LDI variant costs Rs 8,14,893/- (on road Goa) and comes with the following features:-
- AC with Heater
- Power Steering
- Engine Immobiliser
- Trip computer
- The mid-level VDI costs Rs 8,80,087/- (on road Goa) and comes with the following extra features:-
- 2nd row AC
- Power Windows
- Remote Central Locking
- Radio + CD Player with 4 speakers
- Aux-in and USB connectivity
- Security Alarm
- Day and night Internal Rear View Mirror (IRVM)
- Electrically adjustable Outer Rear View Mirrors (ORVM)
- Side Turn Indicators on ORVM
- Front and Rear Fog Lamp
- ABS, EBD with Brake Assist (Optional)
- The Top end VDI cost Rs 9,36,117/- (on road Goa) and comes with the following extra features over those available in the VDI variant.
- Driver and Passenger Airbag
- ABS with Brake Assist
- Alloy Wheels
- 2 tweeters
- Rear defogger
- Rear wash wipe
Under the hood is the very familiar 1.3 ltr Multijet diesel engine sourced from Fiat. This engine is the one which is available on the SX4 and produces 90 BHP. Start the Engine and it slowly settles down into a silent idle. Press the accelerator and you will immediately notice the Turbo-lag. Drivability is not the Ertiga’s forte and it is quite sluggish below 2000rpm.
Once past the 2000rpm mark the turbo kicks in and you get a sudden burst of power. This characteristic is one of the reasons which made the Swift diesel a fun drive. It comes in handy while overtaking too, just slot in the right gear and you get enough passing power. Keep the engine in its midrange and you will have no reason to complain.
There is good amount of power even at triple digit speeds. The Engines revs well too but you can clearly tell that this engine isn’t the best as far as refinement goes. You can hear the engine a lot while revving and also in its midrange.
Maruti has made extensive use of the sound deadening materials but the engine is placed closer to the cabin compared to SX4 and thus some amount of engine noise does filter in. The gearbox is similar to the one found on the Dzire, the gearshifts are smooth and pretty accurate.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The handling of the Ertiga is car like and you don’t feel like you are driving a large car. The car feels compact and you get a good view of the road from the driver seat, this coupled with the light clutch and slick shifting gearbox makes ambling around town easy. The steering is nice to hold and is sufficiently light at low speeds.
The huge glass area means visibility out of the rear is good and reversing is easy though we would have appreciated if the car came equipped with parking sensors. The steering is little inconsistent in feel but weighs up well with speed. The Ertiga has a modern car like monocoque chassis and the effects are evident in the handling.
The tyres offers good amount of grip and the body control is taut. There is minimal amount of body roll and unlike most MPVs you are always in control while driving one and it is easy to mistaken this car for a large hatchback.
The ride at low speeds is absorbent. Up the pace and the ride remains good, the sharper bumps do filter in but there is no shudder like in most MPVs. the vertical movements are well under control and the suspension works silently too.
The ride might not be as flat as the Innova’s but Straight-line stability is good and the car feels planted. Having said that the suspension feels a bit light and the ride isn’t that good over bad patches. Overall the ride isn’t as good as a sedan but considering that the Ertiga is an MPV it is pretty good.
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Ertiga is in a segment of its own with no rivals so it is obvious that people will judge it compared to the already existing MPVs and that’s not a bad thing because the Ertiga hits all the right boxes. It looks better than most MPVs and has modern interiors.
It has good amount of space and comfort levels are high. It has a punchy engine which offers good mileage and good ride & handling combo. It’s a Maruti so service is second to none and maintenance costs will be low too. It might not be exceptional in any specific area but there is no major flaw in the Car and this itself is enough for it to succeed.
What really sets this car apart is its capability to attract prospective customers from other car segments like Hatchbacks and Sedans. The Ertiga is versatile and this is a key factor which will work in its favour. You can drive it to work daily like you would a Swift or Dzire, it has more rear leg room and offers better comfort, it can take seven people when required and you can take it for your weekend trip or even on a month-long driving expedition. It can do it all, and does all that without the compromises – poor dynamics, poor efficiency, heavy to drive traits – inherent in a MUV. This coupled with the competitive pricing seals the deal for the Ertiga. Maruti surely has another winner on its hand.
TEST CARD RATING (Out of 10)
- Build Quality & Strength-8
- Ride- 7.5
- Handling- 8
Car like Handling
No major weakness
Feature list isn’t generous.
Length: 4265 mm
Wheelbase: 2740 mm
Ground Clearance: 185mm
Weight: 1845 kg
Engine: 1.3 Ltr DDIS Diesel
Displacement: 1248 cc
Gearbox: 5 speed Manual
Suspension front: Independent MacPherson struts
Suspension rear: Non independent torsion beam
Brakes front: Disc
Brakes rear: Drums
Tyre size: 185/65R15
Tank capacity: 45
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LDI:- Rs 8,14,893/-
VDI:- Rs 8,80,087/-
ZDI:- Rs 9,36,117/-
Test driven by: Gurudatta, Saish & Viraj