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2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga: First Drive Review

  • Nov 24, 2018
  • 15820 Views


The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga was one of the first compact-MPVs in the country when the first-gen model was launched back in 2012 and people lapped it up. It was the only family car which could seat 7 without breaking the bank. It’s been just over six years since then and the Ertiga hasn’t had much competition to deal with - both the Renault Lodgy and the Honda BR-V have barely put up a fight, and Mahindra has steered clear of it altogether by pricing the Marazzo in a segment above. The only thing Maruti had to do was to make the Ertiga better than before - has it been done?


Pros



  • Please-all exterior design replaced with a sharper, more exciting look. Will attract those who did not like the simpler design of the older, Swift-inspired MPV.

  • Usable 3rd-row of seats, three 6-footers can sit one behind the other in relative comfort.

  • Improved luggage space, movable boot floor and split-folding flat-folding rear seats provide flexibility.

  • Ride quality, not jarring over sharp bumps, handles high speed bumps well too.

  • Spacious but compact, only as wide as the Dzire helps it fit in nicely in crowded city traffic.

  • The new petrol engine is peppy and efficient, can be had with a 4-speed automatic


Cons



  • Third-row is not spacious enough to accommodate adults for longer journeys.

  • No dedicated A/C vents for the third-row occupants.

  • Bootspace is not spacious enough for a 7-person family trip.

  • Feature list could have been better, no LED headlamps, no automatic headlamps/wipers, no cruise control on a car cost up to Rs 10.9 lakh, ex-showroom.

  • Beige interiors and fabric seats will get soiled easily, not the best choice for what is going to be a family car.


Standout Features



  • Space on the inside seems much bigger than before, thanks to intelligent reassignment.

  • Larger petrol engine is peppier than before. Addition of SHVS with lithium-ion batteries should make it very efficient (a road test should confirm the change).


Exterior


On the road, the new Ertiga grabs more attention than the first generation model. The heavy usage of chrome on the front grille might not be to everyone’s liking, but it certainly makes the new Ertiga eye-catchy. The busy design of the bumper and headlamps further make the front look striking. Daytime running lights, whether integrated within the headlamps or on the front bumper, would have added a touch of modernity and given it a premium feel. Hopefully, aftermarket kits will be able to cater to these needs.


Unlike the front, which might polarize opinions, the rear will appeal to most. The three-part tail lamps with LED lights climb on to the D-pillar and look stylish. Sharp creases on the boot lid that extend to the bumper make the rear look crisp. The Ertiga has gained 40mm in width, but it isn't noticeable unless both the first- and second-gen models are placed side-by-side.


A thick shoulder line runs from the front fender to the tail lamps and cuts some bulk of the big doors. The floating roofline adds a modern touch to the design. 15-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels look similar to the ones on the Indonesia-spec Ertiga and, in my personal opinion, do not do justice to the otherwise striking front and smart rear. The new Ertiga measures 4395mm in length, which is 99mm more than the outgoing model. And it does look longer, especially when you look past the C-pillar.


New Ertiga’s colour palette has five options to choose from -- Auburn Red (maroon), Oxford Blue (same as the Dzire’s blue), Magma Grey (same as the Dzire’s grey), Silky Silver (same as the Dzire’s silver) and Pearl Arctic White (same as the Dzire’s white). Dark colours like black, brown or even the Swift’s Midnight Blue might have made the Ertiga look more appealing.


Interior


Despite being 40mm wider than the first-gen Ertiga, the new version feels compact from the driver’s seat, and that’s not surprising since it’s only as wide as the new Dzire. That makes driving the new Ertiga in the city as easy as the Swift or the Dzire.


It’s heartening to finally see the Ertiga getting a different dashboard design compared to the Swift or the Dzire. Not only does that give the MPV its own identity, but it also puts it in consideration for buyers upgrading within the Maruti family. Previously, a similar dashboard with different colours meant that the interior environment of the Swift, Dzire and the Ertiga was more or less the same.


While the design of the layered dashboard looks upmarket together with the flat-bottom steering wheel, it doesn’t feel a step-up from the older Ertiga as far as quality of plastics is concerned. Add to it the fact that you can identify some parts like power windows being carried over, and you do feel you're sitting in an improved Ertiga but one that hasn’t taken a huge leap forward.


The Ertiga, even in its first generation, offered one of the better back seats (middle row) in the price range. There was ample legroom and headroom and the positioning of air vents on the roof was also perfect. With Maruti Suzuki not lengthening the wheelbase, the feel in the second row of the new and old Ertiga is very similar, the only minor difference being a larger storage space in the door handle on each door that can stow a modern smartphone.


Head into the third row and you immediately notice that there’s more legroom on offer. Maruti Suzuki claims that legroom in the third row is 70mm more when compared to the older version. Push the middle row all the way back and there’s some space between the third and second row for your legs; this was not the case before. More importantly, adjusting the middle row (slide and recline) appropriately would mean that even an adult would be relatively comfortable in the third row in intercity commute.


Additionally, the third row gets three levels of backrest recline, helping make the boot more usable. The maximum recline position is the most comfortable for rear seat passengers, but switching to the most upright position gives you a bit more luggage space, which can be particularly useful when cramming bags or just making enough space for the boot to close with a trolley bag at the back. The most upright position means a near-perpendicular seatback.


Safety


The new Ertiga is available with dual front airbags, ABS, EBD, Isofix child seat mounts and front seatbelt pretensioners with load limiters as standard. With those features ticked, it meets the minimum requirement for us to recommend it to buyers in any variant.


Features like speed-sensitive auto door lock and central locking are also standard. The variants with automatic transmission get ESP and hill hold feature.


Technology and other features


The Ertiga gets a 7-inch SmartPlay infotainment system which comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the top Z+ variant. It has in-built navigation support and rear parking camera. Rear parking sensors are otherwise standard. The V and Z variants don’t get the SmartPlay infotainment system but get a regular audio system (digital display that looks like its from the ‘90s) with electrostatic touch buttons (touch-based input for controls that function like touch-sensitive air-con controls on Honda City).


Apart from the SmartPlay infotainment system and its other in-built features, leather-wrapped steering is the only unique feature that Z+ variant offers. So, in all, buyers opting for automatic transmission in the lower Z variant do not miss a lot. A touchscreen infotainment system (or any other audio system), parking camera and leather finish on the steering wheel can always be retrofitted later.


New features include air-cooled front cupholders, front armrest, automatic air-con, third row seat recline and halogen projector headlamps. Interestingly, three of the new features - halogen projector headlamps, third row seat recline and air-cooled cupholders - are offered as standard now. Also on offer as standard are headrests in the second and third row seats, all-around power windows and tilt-steering.


While the new Ertiga is more feature-rich than its previous version, there are some features that would have lifted the overall experience inside the car. Keeping private buyers in mind, features like captain seats in the middle, LED DRLs and telescopic steering would have made the package more premium.


Performance


The new Ertiga is based on Suzuki’s Heartect platform, which Maruti says is more rigid yet lightweight than the previous platform. The new platform is the same one that underpins the current Dzire and Swift. There is a noticeable improvement in the way the Ertiga maintains a straight line on highways at higher speeds, and one of the reasons for it could be the new chassis. Since we managed to drive it mostly on straight roads, we’re not sure how good or bad the body roll is when compared to the older version, or how much feedback the steering offers.


The other noticeable improvement is in the way it dismisses road uncertainties. There is a firmness in the suspension setup compared to the older version, but it’s just enough to not make the ride bumpy. The car settles down quickly after negotiating a bad patch and that should keep third-row occupants more happy in the new Ertiga than in the older model. It’s also good to see the suspension (front) not crashing when hitting a big pothole the way it did in the first-gen model.


Apart from the new platform, the Ertiga also benefits from a new petrol engine - a 1.5-litre unit that’s also accompanied with SHVS mild-hybrid technology. The engine is more powerful than the outgoing 1.4-litre unit by 13PS and makes 8Nm more torque. The increase in torque is not substantial on paper, but on the road it showcases a positive intent to lunge forward as soon as you leave your foot off the clutch. The availability of more torque throughout the range is also noticeable and that should make it better at lugging a full-house when compared to the older engine, which felt underpowered when going uphill with a full load of passengers. The in-gear acceleration appears to have improved as well, though we’ll rely on our test data to claim that with more certainty.


The engine feels more lively with the 5-speed manual transmission than with the 4-speed automatic unit, which is a torque converter. The automatic transmission is more suited for relaxed and not spirited driving. It takes its own sweet time to respond (change gears) to accelerator inputs, so overtaking manoeuvres will require a bit of planning. Claimed fuel efficiency for the more powerful petrol engine is more than the 1.4-litre, 92PS engine, and that could be down to the mild-hybrid technology.


The 1.3-litre, 90PS diesel engine is the same unit that powered the new Ertiga’s predecessor. It’s been carried over unchanged but the claimed fuel efficiency for the diesel-manual powertrain has also gone up by almost a kilometre to a litre but that could be due to the fact that the newer version is lighter by about 20kg.


Verdict


Maruti Suzuki has improved the Ertiga on all fronts -- interior space, performance from the petrol engine, luggage carrying capacity and its looks. There are some new features on offer too, and the package is priced attractively. The new Ertiga hits the right chords when it comes to the mind.


As far as the heart is concerned, there are some setbacks. The interior quality, for example, has not gone up by much and parts sharing with the previous-gen Ertiga is also evident. That said, the new Ertiga is not playing safe anymore. So some of you might like it while some may not. But we can’t deny the fact that Maruti Suzuki has tried hard to please the heart. The new Ertiga is striking from the front and stylish at the rear and that is what will make some of us, if not all, fall in LUV with it finally!

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