This road test was uploaded on the 13th April 2012.
The Ertiga has gone on sale, starting at Rs 5.89 lakh for the petrol and Rs 7.30 lakh for the diesel variants
January 2012, New Delhi, Pragati Maidan. A crowd of buzzing journalists and curious onlookers gather at the Maruti hall. Next to a snazzy SUV concept, Maruti unleashes the Ertiga which for them represents the confidence of India’s favourite car-maker and its ability to bring cars that are tailor made to make a direct entry in every Indian car buyer’s heart. The MPV segment is of course not new to Maruti – there is the Omni and the Eeco. Earlier there was also the Maruti Versa which was not so successful. So why is Maruti having another go at this segment? Because this time Maruti has painstakingly made sure it can succeed by carefully moulding the MPV to suit the Indian tastes plus ‘MPV’ is the latest buzzword in the Indian auto industry as Nissan and Chevrolet and others are also planning to launch MPV’s. Lastly, let’s not forget that the Omni and Eeco aren’t really luxurious, comfortable, safe or MPVs that would feel at home for upper middle class families! The Ertiga (with the rivals coming in soon) will not have it easy though but it seems to have all the winning ingredients and of course that Maruti logo in the front will no doubt give it a winning start but the question remains, is it any good? Is it true replacement for your sedan? Somnath Chatterjee drove both the diesel and petrol versions to find out.
Design and looks
The Ertiga will not only be sold in the Indian market but also in Indonesia which is one of the biggest markets for MPV’s. So the Ertiga has to cut the mustard in the looks department and we are happy to say that it does, especially in the top end ZXi and ZDi models that come with alloy wheels. Seeing the Ertiga in the flesh for the first time brings up quite a reaction. First of all it looks much bigger in person than in pictures and the Swift influence is very much there. Don’t be surprised though as the Ertiga is based on the new Maruti Swift platform but it does have its own visual identity. The sharp swept back headlamps dominate the front end while the grille and bonnet (borrowed from the Maruti Ritz) complete a handsome looking face. The Ertiga’s dimensions look more like a big hatchback rather than a MPV. The Ertiga has an overall length of 4265 mm and an overall width of 1695 mm. To put that in perspective the new Toyota Innova has an overall length of 4580 mm and a height of 1760 mm. The side view of the Ertiga is again clean looking and the flared wheel arches do add some muscle to the look without creating too much clutter. The 15 inch wheels though are a tad too small though, unable to fill the wheel arches properly.
Move to the rear and the small tail-lamps make the rear look a bit bare and it certainly is not as sporty looking as the front. But again it is minimalistic and very clean.
Typically you also get a plethora of colour options to choose from, which include Serene Blue, Ecru Beige, Granite Grey, Silky Silver, Superior White and Dusky Brown. However the best colour according to us is the Firebrick Red, which as you can see adorns our test car. It’s a deep maroonish colour and it brings out the best in the Ertiga’s design.
On the whole this is a design that many would be pleased with. It is well-proportioned and it does not look flabby and slab-sided like some of the other MPV’s. The Swift inspired front end is my favourite and it looks lower and sportier than any other MPV out there. Good start Ertiga!
Step inside and immediately you get a sense that it is a spacious and an airy cabin. The light beige look to the interiors does help in that matter. As expected the interior design borrows heavily from the Swift but with a more upmarket look. The materials used in the cabin are of good quality, especially the look and feel of the upper part of the centre-console. The only complaint here is that the knobs for the AC could have been of better quality.
Equipment wise you do get a lot of bang for your buck. You get steering mounted audio controls, USB compatible audio system which does sound good! The instruments (with LCD display), show information like the outside temperature, driving range etc.
With summer just starting to reveal its true colours, here was a good chance to test the Ertiga’s air conditioning system and we are happy to report that it kept us chilled in the Delhi heat. Plus what is also comforting is that the 2nd row gets its separate AC with controls.
Being an MPV space is of paramount importance and don’t let the fact that the Ertiga is smaller than the Innova fool you, Maruti has squeezed out a lot of space in the Ertiga. For starters the 6-way adjustable front seats are large and comfy with good headroom and legroom. The 2nd row is also comfortable with enough legroom and adequate thigh-support though three people at the back can be a bit of a squeeze. There is a centre armrest, sliding/reclining seatbacks, adjustable headrests, cup holders. The 2nd row also features a 60:40 spilt for convenience.
The Ertiga has a 5+2 ‘Flexi-Seating’ which means it has a 3rd row of seats and life in the 3rd row is not claustrophobic at all – in-fact since you are not sitting in the ‘knees-up position’, for short journeys it is fine. For easy access to the 3rd row, the 2nd row seatback folds down and slides forward. Luggage space is good too as with all the seats up, the luggage space is 135 litres and goes all the way upto 735 litres.
The Ertiga being an MPV means lots of people will be travelling and that means lots of storage places are required and the Ertiga has them. The glove box is adequate in size plus there is a dashboard rack, centre console cup holder, dashboard cup holder, front and rear door pockets, front passenger seatback pocket and a luggage box. Phew!
The Ertiga has two engine options, a new 1.4 litre petrol and the much loved 1.3 litre diesel. Let’s deal with petrol first, this K-series engine makes 95 PS at 6000 rpm and has max torque of 130 Nm@4000 rpm. It feels punchy and eager to rev. At city speeds the engine feels good and performance delivery is fine but once you start putting in some speed it feels strained. But for cruising it is fine and any which ways, you see a petrol Ertiga full of passengers being driven in a very spirited manner – this vehicle is meant to ferry families in comfort. After the petrol, it was time for the diesel. This DDiS diesel engine makes 90 PS at 4000 rpm and has max torque of 200 Nm at 1750 rpm. At first there is some turbo-lag but once it frees up and the turbo spools up, the performance is very good and it is quite quick for a MPV.
The 5-speed gearbox is fun to use and it shifts are accurate and easy to slot. The clutch is also on the light side and coupled with a perfect driving position, the Ertiga is easier to drive than some of the other MPV’s. Plus when negotiating some tight turns the turning radius of 5.2 m is quite good too.
Fuel efficiency is very important and being a Maruti it is even more so. The Ertiga does impress with a figure of 16 kmpl for the petrol and 20 kmpl for the diesel, both being ARAI certified and certainly miles ahead of the other MUVs / MPVs.
Suspension, ride and handling
The suspension of the Ertiga features MacPherson Strut at the front and Torsion Beam at the rear. Thanks to a monocoque chassis both the ride and the handling are impressive. The ride is not choppy and bumps are swallowed effortlessly, we took the Ertiga on an uneven terrain and it performed effortlessly. Even the really sharp bumps and potholes are dealt well. Time to up the ante and go, er, corner hunting.
The Ertiga has a gross vehicle weight of 1760 kg (for petrol) and 1845 kg (for diesel) and it is light on its feet.
The Ertiga did impress me but let’s face it is not meant for an enthusiast but what it does, is handle with finesse. Thanks to the monocoque chassis again it feels well balanced and there is less amounts of body roll. It definitely beats the other MPV’s in this department. Refinement levels were a mixed bag though as there was noise coming in the cabin but it is not intrusive and you will get over it quickly.
The steering though was light but that will add to the car’s user friendliness as it will be easy to drive in traffic and while parking. The braking performance of the Ertiga also proved to be satisfactory as it has ABS with Brake Assist and EBD.
The Ertiga has three variants each for diesel and petrol. The prices however are no less shocking! The base LXi (P) and LDi (D) are priced at Rs 5.89 lakh and Rs 7.30 lakh, midway through the range the VXi (P) and the VDi (D) are priced at Rs 6.60 lakh and Rs 7.90 lakh and the top of the line ZXi (P) and ZDi (D) are priced at Rs 7.30 lakh and 8.45 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). Whichever way you look at it the Ertiga is stunning value for money. In our opinion the variant that makes the most sense is the VXi (P) and the VDi (D) variants as they are well equipped with features like the rear AC, radio/CD/USB player. Of course the ZXi (P) and ZDi (D) variants are the top of the line variants and have features like steering mounted audio controls and driver and passenger airbags.
But the big question is should you buy the petrol or diesel. Well the Ertiga in my opinion works best with the diesel. The new petrol engine is more fun to drive and loves to rev but for all practical purposes, it is the diesel that we are leaning towards thanks to its efficiency mainly and let’s face it, most demand will be of the diesel only.
In the end Maruti seems to have done it! The Ertiga successfully combines the attributes of a car with those of a MPV. It is easy to drive and does not feel huge in the city which is typical of all other MPV’s. The driving manners are car like and you forget that you are in a MPV sometimes as it just feels like a big hatch to drive! Plus it is practical and will comfortably seat your family. So the Ertiga is a perfect everyday car and a weekend car all rolled into one! It seems the Ertiga is yet another hit from India’s favourite car maker and should keep their finance department happy with numbers rolling in easily!