- Published On: 17 April 2017
- 7 min read
Maruti’s Ertiga is a genuinely unique car – but is it both practical and desirable? Let’s find out.
The Ertiga, which is based on the current Swift platform, is Maruti’s first crack at the MPV segment Maruti has made all efforts to make its new mini-MPV as car-like as possible.
On the outside
Its wheelbase, at 2740mm, is a considerable 310mm longer than the Swift’s and the kerb weight has increased by around 155kg. Which is impressive considering this car seats seven people. Suzuki has kept the Ertiga’s weight in check with extensive use of lightweight high-tensile steel in its construction. At 4265mm in length, the Ertiga is a fair bit shorter than the other MPVs in the market like the Toyota Innova, Mahindra Xylo and Tata Aria.
You instantly notice the familiar styling that is typical to Suzuki cars, with swept-back headlights like the new Swift’s, and a grille and bonnet that resemble the Ritz. It’s not the most eye-catching of designs, but it’s pleasing.
On the inside
Entry to the cabin is made easy by large doors that open wide. The dashboard is a straight lift from the Swift, so quality and ergonomics are generally quite good. The door pads and other plastics are of good quality, and the Ertiga doesn’t feel built to a price. This car comes with a fair bit of equipment too – it comes with a CD player, Aux and USB ports, steering-mounted audio controls, powered mirrors and power windows. However, the more affordable VDi/VXi variants do without alloy wheels, fog lights and airbags.
Visibility is decent from the front seats, lifted right from the Swift. They are broad with soft yet generous cushioning, which makes them truly comfortable even over long journeys. In the second row, the seat squab is a touch short, so under-thigh support is not as good as we would have liked. Other than that, it’s hard to fault. The adjustable backrest, terrific headroom and decent legroom make the Ertiga’s middle bench a pretty comfortable place to be. At the back, the last row isn’t as uncomfortable as you’d think.
The narrow access means getting into the last row requires some twisting and turning. Also, once you’re inside, shoulder room is tight and the squab is short.
What’s a nice touch is that the massive 240mm seat travel can move forward and back allowing you to adjust legroom for both the second- and third-row passengers. Well-engineered latches and levers allow you to push forward or collapse the seats neatly into the floor. With all seven seats in place, there is enough space in the back to hold just two soft bags, while a concealed storage bay hidden beneath can hold small items.
Also, the third row can be folded flat and you also have the option to fold the middle row, and the 60:40 split further aids flexibility. The cabin is quite versatile.
There are two engines on offer - the familiar Fiat-sourced 1.3 Multijet diesel (that now comes with the fuel-saving SHVS mild hybrid tech) and a brand new 1.4-litre K-series petrol. The petrol produces a peak output of 92hp at 6000rpm and torque is 130Nm at 4000rpm. Power is evenly spread out over the rev range and power delivery is smooth and linear. You never feel short on power with this petrol engine and progress is quite brisk. The petrol Ertiga manages to set very competitive times, with 100kph coming up in a very brisk 13.56 seconds and in-gear times of 12.58sec and 19.54sec for 20-80kph and 40-100kph in third and fourth gears respectively, which are impressive for a car like this.
The diesel Ertiga uses the same 90hp, variable-geometry turbo (VGT) engine that powers the SX4, but is geared differently. So, despite it being heavier than the sedan, the Ertiga’s shorter gear ratios help make it quicker off the line.
It takes 14.28 seconds to reach 100kph and reaches its top speed of 167kph rather easily. In-gear times are impressive too. What you won’t like is that there is considerable turbo lag below 2000rpm and there’s a lack of response at low revs. Fall below 2000rpm and you will be forced to downshift quite often. Once the turbo kicks in, there is a strong surge and the Ertiga picks up speed quite rapidly.
The MPV’s strong mid-range makes the diesel car an able car out on the highway. Since you’re usually in the meat of the powerband at cruising speeds, it responds quite well to throttle inputs to make overtaking easy and fairly effortless. Both diesel and petrol engines come mated to a smooth-shifting five-speed gearboxes and they’re both allied to light and progressive clutches.
Its long wheelbase give this MPV good poise and straight-line stability, for most situations. This car isn’t happy darting through corners and prefers a more relaxed driving style. The soft suspension means the low-speed ride is pretty absorbent, and even as speeds increase, the Ertiga handles bumps with aplomb and feels pretty solid. There is a mild thud from the suspension when you go over sharp bumps though. There is a bit of up-and-down motion over undulating surfaces and the diesel pitches a bit more in the front. At moderate speeds, this never gets uncomfortable though. The steering is fairly accurate too but what you do miss is a tighter turning circle and the ability to wiggle into tight parking spots as with a hatchback.
As far as fuel efficiency is concerned, the diesel returned a frugal 12.8kpl in the city and 16.8kpl on the highway, while the petrol-powered car managed 10.2kpl in the city and 14.8kpl on the highway.
Is it worth the money?
The Ertiga offers the practicality of a seven-seater and yet is as easy to drive as a mid-size saloon. True, it doesn't have the sheer interior space of a full-size MPV, but with average-sized adults and children on board, the flexible interior allows you to find a happy compromise within its compact confines. For sheer versatility, there is no other vehicle at this ₹6-10 lakh price point that even comes close, and as a pure family car, the Ertiga is hard to beat.