If first impressions are anything to go by, Maruti has a winner on its hands. The Ertiga gets the basics right. It has three rows of seats, can seat seven people and comes with the option of both petrol and diesel engines. Also, its monocoque construction promises much in terms of car-like comfort and driving manners.
With a length of 4265mm, the Ertiga is shorter than the other Multi Purpose Vehicles (MPvs) in the market like the Toyota Innova, Mahindra Xylo and Tata Aria. Those upgrading from a small car will immediately take a liking to it. Styling at the front is typically Suzuki. The headlights that sweep back towards the A-pillars are reminiscent of the new Swift and there is more than a hint of the Ritz on the front grille and bonnet. Tail styling, though, is ordinary and conforms to the MPV design template.
Since the wheels are placed far out with minimal overhangs, there is ample space on the inside. Its wheelbase is 2740mm which is just a shade shorter than the Innova’s and Xylo’s. This unquestionably helps middle-row occupants. The middle row can slide back 240mm, so there is ample space to stretch out in. Even after adjusting these seats for the third row passengers, you have more than sufficient legroom. The flat seat and a near-flat floor bode well for centre passenger comfort. It’s also easy to get in and out courtesy the large rear doors and ideal seat height.
The view out of the windscreen is good, though the thick A-pillar can be a problem. That said, the driving position is really nice.
The Ertiga will be sold in three variants each for both petrol and diesel models. Except the base petrol model, all variants get Anti-lock Braking System, while the top models also get driver and passenger airbags. Climate control is not available on any trim level, though middle and top-spec cars do get twin air-conditioners.
Powering the Ertiga is a new 1.4-litre petrol motor from Suzuki’s acclaimed K-series family of engines. Peak power output is 93.7bhp at 6000rpm and torque is 13.26kgm at 4000rpm. Refinement is really impressive with a very quiet idle. There is a good spread of power, which makes the engine fit for both city and highway driving. Driveability is fairly good, though the build-up of power sometimes seems slightly slow.
The other engine on offer is the 1.3-litre Fiat-sourced turbodiesel that also does duty on the SX4. Peak power here is 88.8bhp at 4000rpm while max torque is available at 1750rpm. Both petrol and diesel variants come with smooth-shifting five-speed gearboxes that come allied to light clutches. The noise
levels in the cabin are low thanks to the extensive use of sound-deadening materials in the engine bay.
Maruti’s goal with the Ertiga was to make it as car-like to drive as possible and it has succeeded in its mission. The ride is always flat and pliant at speed and there is also no low-speed bounciness associated with typical MPVs. Even sharp bumps are tackled with aplomb.
But it’s really from behind the wheel that the Ertiga impresses. You can take turns with confidence, body roll is well contained and in general the feeling of control is very reassuring. And city driving is a breeze.
Maruti strikes a balance with space on the inside and compact dimensions outside, which are sure to appeal to buyers who find the current crop of MPVs a bit too unwieldy and large. While prices are revealed by mid-April, we expect them to range
from R7 lakh to R9 lakh.
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga
Price: Rs 7-9 lakh (ex-showroom price, estimated)
Fuel: Petrol / Diesel
Installation: Front, transverse, front-wheel drive
Engine: 4 cyls in-line, 1,373cc, petrol/ 4 cyls in-line, 1248cc, turbo-diesel
Power: 93.8bhp at 6,000rpm/ 88.5bhp at 4,000rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Tyres: 185/65 R15