Story – Dr. Javeid A. Khan ; Photos – Faisal Ali Khan
Car tested: 2012 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 6.86 lakhs (LXi), Rs. 7.68 lakhs (VXi), Rs. 7.77 lakhs (VXi ABS), Rs. 8.49 lakhs (ZXi), Rs. 8.49 lakhs (LDi), Rs. 9.21 lakhs (VDi), Rs. 9.85 lakhs (ZDi)
Maruti Suzuki is the oldest car manufacturer in India and the largest too, but the company has never been able to achieve success in the MPV category. Largely dominated by the Toyota Innova today, Maruti Suzuki has offered the Eeco (the erstwhile Versa), which doesn’t really sell that well. The company is now looking to make a comeback in the MPV segment with the launch of the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, to offer customers a 7-seater vehicle at an attractive price. But does the Ertiga have the goods to make it a successful people mover? We find out!
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Exteriors – The Maruti Ertiga is not an eye catchy vehicle, but it doesn’t have to be. The looks are similar to the Ritz and Swift at the front, while the side profile resembles a bigger Honda Jazz. The rear is bland at best with the small tail lights and lack of any cuts or creases. Designed by Maruti Suzuki’s Indian engineers, the styling of the Maruti Ertiga makes one believe that the company has run out of ideas. If you remember the 2010 Auto Expo, you will know what I mean. The concept version of the Ertiga (known as the RIII) was really attractive. Even though the scissor doors and projector lights cannot be carried to production, the company could have at least tried to make it more handsome looking.
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Interiors – Step inside the Ertiga and you will feel you have entered the Swift DZire, because the dashboard is a cut, copy, paste from the Swift. The layout is the same, which is a good thing, because the new Swift features a very well laid out dash. Maruti Suzuki has differentiated the dashboard with the use of beige colour. In the Swift, the dashboard is completely black, while the DZire has a mix of black and beige. The Maruti Ertiga on the other end uses completely beige interiors, which give a light and airy feeling to the cabin.
Even though the Ertiga is a compact MPV, the space inside is decent thanks to the cab forward design. Maruti Suzuki engineers have tried to maximize interior room with the use of clever packaging. The wheels are placed as far as you would imagine, which along with the increased wheel base of 2740 mm lends the Ertiga good interior space. The front row of seats of the Maruti Ertiga are extremely comfortable and the driving position is just like the Swift (minus the thick A-pillar ofcourse). Driving the Ertiga feels extremely light, thanks to the relatively low weight of the vehicle (only 170 kgs more than the Swift). You just feel you are driving a taller Swift.
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Step inside the middle row and you will find good space too. The second row of seats have a massive seat travel. You can slide the seats by 240 mm, giving the Ertiga excellent middle row leg room. The glass area is generous and the doors open with a wide angle, giving middle row passengers good ingress and egress. The flat floor along with separate AC vents for the middle row ensures that the Ertiga’s middle row will seat three in good comfort.
This brings us to the most crucial question. How is the last row of seats? First and foremost, getting into the last is not an easy task. One has to really bend it like Beckham to enter, due to the not so tall height of the vehicle. Once inside, the space in the last row is decent with the middle row pushed forward.
Push the middle row completely back and you simply cannot sit in the last row. Even after keeping the middle row decently ahead, the last row is best suited towards children. There is very little thigh support in the last row and the small glass area in the lat row induces claustrophobic feeling to the passengers. The middle row seat folds in 60:40 while the last row folds in a single piece only. The Ertiga is ideally suited to five people with the capacity to seat the additional two occasionally.
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The Ertiga is certainly not a full sized MPV, as seven adults cannot be seated comfortably in the vehicle, unless the height of your family matches with that of Shakira. The Maruti Ertiga is best suited to 5 passengers, with the last row of seats folded to offer excellent boot space. With all row of seats facing up, the Ertiga’s boot is too small to carry luggage for weekends getaways. The boot won’t be able to accommodate a full sized suit case and is best for small carry bags. Maruti Suzuki has provided a small storage bay in the boot to hold knick knacks, which is a nice touch. The company has also provided sufficient cubby holes and cup holders for all passengers. The spare tyre is mounted below the body and there is a spare tyre flap in the boot to remove the spare wheel.
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Ride, Handling and Braking – Riding on the Swift platform has given the Ertiga many advantages. The ride quality is extremely good the vehicle absorbs all bumps on the road with confidence. The monocoque chassis also results in car like driving dynamics and the Ertiga handles very well indeed. There is very little body roll and the steering offers very good feedback to the driver. At low speeds, the steering is very light, making it a breeze to manoeuvre the Maruti Ertiga. This easy maneuverability will give the Ertiga many advantages as it will make parking extremely easy in city conditions. All variants except the LXi feature ABS (optional in the VXi), which along with decent sized rubber give the Ertiga good stopping power.
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Performance – The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga is powered by both petrol and diesel engines. While the diesel is the tried and tested 1.3-litre Multijet engine, the petrol unit is an all new 1.4-litre K14M unit. The 1.3-litre diesel unit is from the SX4 and features VGT, helping it to produce 88.5 BHP of peak power at 4000 RPM and 200 Nm of peak torque at 1750 RPM. The 1.4-litre petrol motor produces 93.8 BHP of peak power at 6000 RPM and 130 Nm of peak torque at 4000 RPM. Both these engines return a very good ARAI certified mileage with the diesel rated at 20.77 km/l and the petrol rated at 16.02 km/l. But how good are these engines lugging around 1160 kgs (petrol) / 1235 kgs (diesel) weight around?
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Pretty good I would say. The 1.4-litre petrol is an all new engine and does the job very well. It has good amount of low end grunt. Power band is quite wide and one can drive the petrol Ertiga effortlessly in both the city and out on the highways. The engine loves to be revved and if you are an enthusiast, you will simply redline it all the time.
The 1.3-litre diesel is a gem and the power delivery makes it well suited for the highways. The turbo kicks in hard and fast around 2000 RPM but city driving is not its forte. Turbo lag is significant and can be a serious cause of concern when the Ertiga is fully loaded with passengers in the city. Once you are in the turbo band, the Multijet motor is in a league of its own, pulling strongly with a good spread of power. Both the engines could do with better NVH though and are quite vocal as speeds build up. The gearbox on both the petrol and diesel engined Ertiga are smooth with the clutch being light, making driving this MPV a breeze.
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Conclusion – As a car, the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga is an extremely good vehicle. It looks decent, drives well, is feature rich and has potent diesel and petrol power plants. As a people mover though, the Ertiga fails somewhat and is no where close to a full sized MPV in terms of last row space or load carrying abilities. The Ertiga then, in Maruti Suzuki’s own language is a LUV (Life Utility Vehicle) at best and will appeal to those looking for a 5-seater vehicle with good boot space (last row seats down) and a commanding driving position.
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* Good Space For 5
* Frugal Powerplants
* Maruti Suzuki’s wide spread dealership network
* Drives like a car
Whats Not So Cool
* Last row seats best for kids
* Boot too small to carry luggage
* Waiting period (expected)
* Lack of climate control even on top end variants
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Maruti Suzuki Ertiga Specifications
* Engine: 1373 cc, 4-cylinder (petrol), 1248 cc, 16V, Multijet, DOHC (diesel)
* Power: 93.8 BHP @ 6000 RPM (petrol), 88.5 BHP @ 4000 RPM (diesel)
* Torque: 130 Nm at 4000 RPM (petrol), 200 Nm @ 1750 RPM (diesel)
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* Top Speed: 170 km/h (petrol), 160 km/h (diesel)
* Fuel Consumption (city): 12 km/l (petrol), 15 km/l (diesel)
* Fuel Type: Petrol, Diesel
* Suspension: Independent Mcpherson Struts (Front), Torsion Beam (Rear)
* Tires: 185/65/15 Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: Ventilated Discs (Front), Drums ( Rear), ABS, EBD
* Safety: ABS, EBD, Dual SRS Front Airbags, iCats
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga Dimensions
* Overall length x width x height: 4265 mm X 1695 mm X 1685 mm
* Wheelbase: 2740 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1480/1490 mm
* Ground clearance: 185 mm
* Turning Radius – 5.2 m
* Boot Volume: 135-litres, 480-litres (with last row seats folded)
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 45-liters
* Kerb Weight: 1160 kgs (petrol) / 1235 kgs (diesel)