2022 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga S-CNG: First drive
When I started out as an intern with this magazine, I penned down a piece in my downtime on why Maruti Suzuki was the OG manufacturer that enthused the enthusiasts in India, and when it finally went live, I went on to be pegged as the Maruti Suzuki bhakt at the office. Which is probably why you're seeing a 7-seat CNG-powered Maruti Suzuki Ertiga here, in a magazine that normally swoons over Lambos and Porsches. But if you have ever owned a Maruti Suzuki – most of us have at some point of time – you’re bound to have come across the odd taunt that has others refer to your car as an app-based taxi. Maruti Suzuki seems to have taken cognizance of the fact, and along with their massively successful Tour models which cater to the aforementioned fleet operators, they are also revamping the CNG-powered offerings from their lineup, and the latest of these is the Ertiga S-CNG.
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga S-CNG design
Right from when it was first launched in 2013, the Ertiga promised to be a friendly upgrade for the small car buyer moving up to an MPV (remember those LUV ads?) and in its second generation, the Ertiga continues to maintain those traits. The design is largely unchanged, which is a good thing since the Ertiga was by no means a bad looker, though the latest update does get a new front grille with chrome winglets to spruce things up. The 15-inch alloy wheels on the ZXi variant that we tested look snazzier too with a dual tone design, and the rear hatch now gets a chrome garnish below the rear windshield. There are no prominent visual cues to differentiate the CNG-powered Ertiga from the petrol one, save for the CNG stickers on the front and rear windshield, and overall, Maruti Suzuki has played it safe with a design that appeals to all and offends none.
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga S-CNG interior
It’s a similar story on the inside with the layout of the cabin being virtually unchanged, and the beige interiors with teak-finished inserts do lend an air of premium-ness. Equipment levels on the ZXi are good, with climate control, roof-mounted blowers for the second row and a 7-inch touchscreen with SmartPlay Studio that gets you Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The instrument cluster gets a few tweaks too, with an additional fuel gauge for the CNG tank, which can also be viewed by a graphic on the MID display indicating the fuel level. While you do get parking sensors as standard, the Ertiga misses out on a parking camera, which is only offered in the top-spec ZXi+ trim that is not offered with CNG.
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga S-CNG engine
Powering the Ertiga is an updated version of the earlier 1.5-litre nat-asp petrol engine, mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, with the petrol fuel tank being complimented by a CNG tank. The tank itself is neatly integrated into the boot and not left exposed, allowing you to store luggage on top of it in a safe fashion, but the 60-litre tank does tend to eat into your boot space. The MPV always starts off on petrol mode, and the changeover to CNG itself can be initiated using a switch that is present on the dashboard. The process is smooth and takes no more than a few seconds, and when you do get driving, the Ertiga’s responsiveness does take you aback. It’s true that CNG-powered cars generally feel underpowered compared to their petrol counterparts, but the Ertiga feels sprightly when you launch it hard. In CNG mode, the engine produces 86bhp of power and 121Nm of torque and it is the latter which will impress you the most, as you can ride the wave of torque around town, chugging along in third gear. In fact, if you prefer driving in a laidback manner, the Ertiga CNG does feel quite nice for commuting in crowded cities. Overtakes need a bit more planning and a downshift or two, since the Ertiga S-CNG does lack a bit of poke as the revs climb higher. But the good thing is that the gearbox itself is a joy to use when rowing through the gears, coupled with a light clutch action.
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga S-CNG fuel efficiency
What it does lack for in power the Ertiga S-CNG makes up for in fuel efficiency, especially with a claimed figure 26.11km/kg and the lower costs of filling up CNG. We were not able to calculate the real time efficiency of the Ertiga in our short test, but in real-world conditions, you should be able to cover around 150 to 175km of range on a tankful of CNG, though that depends on your driving style. In fact, the Ertiga also packs in some nifty safety features such as an auto engine cut-out which shuts off the engine by itself whenever you open the fuel cap.
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga S-CNG ride and handling
In terms of ride and handling, the Ertiga S-CNG does get retuned suspension and brakes to account for the additional weight, and the overall ride is firm, but not uncomfortable. The ride does get better with speed, though the handling isn’t what you’d call enthusiastic. It does stick to its line but the Ertiga feels best when driven at a sedate pace. It is easy to maneuver around town too, with the car seeming to shrink around you in traffic.
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga S-CNG verdict
For a prospective first-time MPV buyer, the Ertiga has always been a no-brainer, with its friendly driving dynamics, decent looks and the ease of ownership that comes with a Maruti Suzuki is only bolstered by the CNG’s lower running costs. In terms of rivals, there’s no other CNG-equipped 7-seater at this price point, and the Ertiga’s tried and tested package only gets better with this update.