Test drive review: Maruti Suzuki Ertiga
MPVs are coming. Compact SUVs and SUVs are a rage already but seven seater SUVs are limited to a handful. On one end of the spectrum you have the XUV500 and then there are Skoda Kodiaq and Toyota Fortuner. Innova Crysta rules the charts when it comes to premium MPVs while Mahindra is here to grab a piece of the pie with the Marazzo. But since its launch in 2014, the Ertiga has been a hit among fleet owners while also catering to a few families. And now there’s a new one. Just like the transformation from Swift Dzire to Dzire saw Maruti’s compact sedan being transformed from a plain jane Swift with a boot that lured fleet owners to a desirable family car, the Ertiga intends to follow the same path. Does it succeed is the question we are going to answer. Read on to find out.
How does it look?
The new Ertiga has certainly put on a lot of mass as compared to the predecessor but it still is a full size smaller than the Marazzo. The front-end resembles that of a typical Japanese car while the projector headlamps are eerily similar to the Innova Crysta’s alas, without DRLs. The angular lines of the first generation Ertiga are gone and the doors now get curves to give it a modern look. The rear end too reminisces of the now defunct Mobilio with Volvo-ish tail lights. But hey, we aren’t complaining. All of this put together makes the Ertiga feel a lot more premium, especially the floating roof.
“The whole dashboard layout is new and the fit and finish is top notch. Even the quality of materials used is excellent”
What else is new?
Quite a lot. To start with, the dashboard gets wooden inserts and there’s also leather wrapped flat bottomed steering wheel on the ZXI+ variant! The whole dashboard layout is new and the fit and finish is top notch. Even the quality of materials used is excellent. You also get a centrally mounted floating 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, integrated with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, seen on the Vitara Brazza first. The instrument cluster too is inspired from the Baleno and Ciaz and I loved the TFT display on the petrol ZXI+ variant. It shows plethora of information including the battery charge, but more on that later. There are twin cupholders in the centre console with a dedicated cooling vent, which can even be switched off.
Based on the Heartect platform, which also underpins the Baleno and Swift, the Ertiga has grown in size as well. Maruti Suzuki has used the same architecture but the Ertiga gets all new suspension setup and obviously, the wheelbase has been lengthened as well, as compared to the Swift. As compared to the first generation Ertiga, the latest gen MPV is wider by 40mm, taller by 5mm and the length is up by a massive 99mm. All this equates to more space on the inside. The first two rows virtually remain the same but a lot of work has gone to make the third row more ‘livable’. The boot space too has gone up and now stands at 209 litres. The third row seat is 50:50 split and can be reclined as well for maximum flexibility, in terms of comfort and boot space.
Is it more comfortable?
That is the biggest question because the Ertiga is a people mover first and Thrill of Driving is secondary. The second row gets marginally more shoulder room while access to third row is easier as well, with a top mounted seat folding function, unlike the side mount on the predecessor. With the second row adjusted for my height (6ft), the third row becomes quite uncomfortable and is strictly limited to kids. In fact, I could not sit straight and had to fold my legs to the right after being seated in the third row. And we had no children with us at the first drive, so more light on the third row will be shared later when we do a proper road test.
“Even in third cog, she hardly struggles, even when the revs have dipped down to idle engine speed”
Engines and drive?
We drove, both the petrol and diesel powered variants of the Ertiga with a 5-speed manual transmission. The petrol engine also comes with the option of a 4-speed automatic. Both the motors get an addition of a lithium ion battery, which is stored under the passenger seat. Acting as mild hybrid power train, the battery allows for surge in acceleration down in the rev range and it also regenerates energy under braking. There’s also an idle start/stop system which works magnificently well.
The K15 1.5-litre petrol motor churns out a satisfactory 103bhp and 138Nm. The torque is on the lower side but the battery helps quite a lot. The engine doesn’t have a strong pull as the Fiat sourced diesel motor with VGT, but what surprised me was its tractability. Even in third cog, she hardly struggles, even when the revs have dipped down to idle engine speed. And that makes it a comfortable cruiser on the highway and an easy driver in urban conditions. Precisely what is required from a vehicle of its class.
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The diesel on the other hand feels a lot more quicker. The figures speak for themselves, especially the torque at 200Nm. There is a lovely spread of torque and the slick gearbox with short throws works in tandem with the engine for quite a lot of boost. Once the turbo kicks in at about 1700rpm, she really moves despite being heavy at 1245kg. If you are someone who is hitting the highway more than often, this should be your pick.
“The ride is not as soft as the ladder frame derived Marazzo or Innova Crysta, but feels very European at low speeds”
Ride and handling?
I have saved the best bit for the last. Yes, with the Ertiga, Maruti Suzuki has managed to hit the sweet spot when it comes to setting up the suspension for ride quality and optimum handling. The ride is not as soft as the ladder frame derived Marazzo or Innova Crysta, but feels very European at low speeds. As she gains momentum, she gets better and that obviously means better handling at high speeds. In fact, the suspension setup makes the Ertiga handle like a car. We obviously couldn’t push it around corners around the traffic laden roads of Faridabad and Gurgaon but I’m sure that the Ertiga would be as good to drive as the Vitara Brezza. Even though the centre of gravity is high, the body roll is very well controlled at all times and the Ertiga eggs you push harder. Even ride quality at high speeds is excellent, unlike the Baleno and Swift, thanks to the revised suspension components and additional weight.
The prices now start at Rs 7.44 lakh, which makes it expensive by Rs 1.10 lakh as compared to the predecessor. However, as you get to higher trims, the difference lowers. But remember, these are introductory prices and Maruti Suzuki officials suggest a price hike by as soon as January. The top of the line variants make a lot of sense for families thanks to their long list of features. And obviously, there is no MPV that comes at this price point. The Marazzo’s fully loaded variant is expensive by Rs 3 lakh. The Marazzo is definitely a size larger, has a lot more space and comes with more power, but then it doesn’t drive like a car. This is where the Ertiga scores a lot of brownie points. Maruti Suzuki then, once again, has a winner on its hands and expect to spot long queues outside Maruti Suzuki Arena dealerships. I’d suggest that you book yours today to save yourself from the hassle of long waiting periods and of course, money too.