Shootout: Maruti Ciaz vs Honda City
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 8.28 – 11.92 lakhs (Maruti Ciaz), Rs. 8.54 – 13.39 lakhs (Honda City)
The Maruti Ciaz is a serious attempt to give the top selling Honda City a tough fist fight
Time and again we have discussed as to how the C-segment is the most competitive but ironically the only segment where India’s top car maker hasn’t been able to make an impact. Yes, it’s true that Maruti Suzuki hasn’t set the sales chart on fire in the C-segment whereas we all know the Honda City has almost always ruled over its rivals. However, Maruti Suzuki has made it amply clear, it wants to dethrone the City with their SX4 replacement, the Ciaz. A very important product for Maruti’s ambition of selling cars in higher segments, the Ciaz is aimed squarely at the City (Maruti benchmarked Honda for the Ciaz) and the Swift maker is confident of taking the lead in this segment. So a head to head battle was obvious considering this is Maruti’s big attempt to go premium while the City has had almost no tough competition since the latest generation model arrived in the market earlier this year.
Motor Quest: The Maruti Ciaz is an all new model which replaces the SX4, a car which replaced the Baleno, the latter two both fairing poorly on the sales chart. The Honda City is the most revered car in India and was launched way back in 1998 and is currently in its fourth generation.
Exteriors – The Maruti Ciaz is a bigger car than the Honda City which is very evident as you give both these cars a quick glance. The Ciaz is longer and wider but the City is taller, resulting in the Ciaz looking a bit more elegant. The Maruti also has some better design elements which come out as fresh compared to the City whose styling is quite reminiscent of its predecessor. The fact that the Ciaz draws some design elements from the now defunct Kizashi gives it quite the appeal but we aren’t really a big fan of that Suzuki grille at the front, but both cars indulge in heavy chrome usage.
While lower variants of the Ciaz ride on 15-inch wheels (like the City), the top spec trim gets 16-inchers which look really nice. Bigger footwear on the City would go a nice way in filling those wheel arches. At the rear, things get quite similar. While most will think Suzuki took design inspiration from Honda for the rear tail lights, the reality is far from it. Suzuki showcased the concept version of the car (Authentics) before the all new City made its debut. Still, it’s the City whose rear looks more appealing as it’s neatly done, the Ciaz being shorter in height feels too bulky at the rear with that huge bumper and unnecessary add-ons. While the City’s design has been well accepted, the Ciaz could do with more curves to highlight its appearance.
Interiors – Maruti has tried to counter Honda by loading the Ciaz with a ton of features while also giving the car a bigger wheelbase than the City. The Ciaz has a 50 mm longer wheelbase and that does translate into more space although the City isn’t far behind (the Ciaz also beats the City in terms of boot space but the rear seats don’t fold forward). Thus the rear seat space isn’t a deciding factor between both these cars, what is though are the seats and headroom. The Ciaz has good seats (but under-thigh support isn’t good and the seats are a bit hard) but the City’s are just better but both cars aren’t great in headroom for tall passengers. With big fat front seats, visibility from the rear isn’t as good as the City although the placement of the rear cabin lights (on the sides) is a neat touch. We also like the sunglass holder at the front and rear windscreen sun blind which is missing in the City, also omitted on the Honda are rear parking sensors. The Ciaz has one power outlet at the rear, the City has two (the Ciaz has a total of two power sockets while the City has four).
Both cars come with a plethora of features as standard with both having some extra features over the other. The unique feature in the Ciaz is the touch-screen infotainment system which Maruti likes to call Smartplay while the City is the only car in the segment to come with a sunroof. The Ciaz also gets projector headlights which is a nice addition as it’s very functional at night while the City gets keyless go where the doors automatically unlock as soon as you put your hand in the door handle, no need to press a button like on the Ciaz (works for both front doors on the City). The Ciaz has more storage bins than the City but build quality isn’t as good as the Honda. While Maruti has done a lot of work on the Ciaz by giving it a nice looking dashboard, why has it carried over the power windows switches from the Swift isn’t understandable, they just look out of place in this vehicle. The City has the more appealing dashboard and the feel good factor inside the cabin is also higher in the Honda.
Performance – Maruti Suzuki has carried over engines on the Ciaz from the Ertiga but they have been tuned better for improved performance and efficiency. The 1.3-litre DDiS diesel engine outputs 90 PS of power and 200 Nm of torque, matched to a 5-speed gearbox. The Honda City on the other hand uses a bigger 1.5-litre diesel engine with higher power output at 100 PS although torque output is the same at 200 Nm. The Ciaz isn’t as sluggish as the output figures suggest and that can be credited to the weight of the car, it is lighter than the City but the power advantage of the Honda is very apparent once you start driving. The City has excellent low-end response which makes drivability in town excellent, an area where the Ciaz can’t match the Honda. The Ciaz has some turbo-lag and you need to rev it hard to get quick overtakes done.
Where the Fiat sourced diesel engine is better is in the top-end, the City has a narrow powerband and redline comes in quick at just 4000 RPM while the Ciaz pulls to more than 5000 RPM. The Ciaz is also the quieter car here, the City diesel’s aluminium construction has made it very noisy and Honda hasn’t resolved the issue just yet although the Mobilio is a touch quieter. While Maruti uses a 5-speed gearbox, Honda uses a 6-speed unit that gives the City better cruising range. The gearbox on the Suzuki vehicle is better though. Both cars will return very similar mileage numbers and are the most efficient cars on sale in India currently.
The City’s fantastic i-VTEC motor simply blows the petrol Ciaz with its stellar performance
While in terms of diesel, the difference between the Ciaz and City isn’t a world apart, the same can’t be said when you talk about the petrol versions. The Ciaz uses a 1.4-litre mill which outputs 92.45 PS and 130 Nm while the City is propelled by a 1.5-litre motor that generates substantially more power at 119 PS and 145 Nm of torque. With 26.55 more horses and a screamer of an engine, the petrol City just annihilates the petrol Ciaz in performance. Not only is the City the faster car, it’s also the more fun with the VTEC mill having the get go to give you goosebumps. The Ciaz redlines at 6200 RPM, the City goes all the way to 7000 RPM. The City never feels bogged down and sounds sporty once you get past 4000 RPM, the Ciaz has to be kept on full pelt if you want to make quick overtakes while the motor itself feels uneasy near the redline. Both cars use a 5-speed gearbox which are smooth shifting. Where the Ciaz has an advantage is mileage, it offers an ARAI rated 20.73 km/l against the City’s 17.8 km/l. Both cars come with an automatic gearbox option as well but the Honda’s 7-step CVT is better than Maruti’s 4-speed unit.
Driving Dynamics – While both are Japanese manufacturers, both have taken a very different approach when it comes to the suspension set-up. The Ciaz is softly sprung while the City is stiffer. Thus the Ciaz has the better ride quality of the two. While the Honda’s isn’t bad at all, the Maruti Ciaz is just better with excellent ride quality even on bad roads. The City does feel disturbed on pothole ridden roads at low speeds. The Honda also suffers from poor ground clearance as a heavy load can make the City touch its underbelly on speed-breakers, no such issues in the Maruti Ciaz which despite its longer wheelbase, has ample ground clearance.
The Ciaz is a more relaxed car while the City is more fun to drive, both will be used by back benchers
With a stiffer suspension set-up, the Honda City has the better handling here and that too by a comfortable margin. The Ciaz just doesn’t handle as well as you expect a Suzuki vehicle to, more so after having sampled the Swift on a regular basis for the past 8 years! The steering is very un-Suzuki like, it doesn’t communicate as well as the Honda’s while the car itself isn’t a sharp handler. The City impresses you with its good steering and accurate handling. This is in spite of Honda opting for 175 mm tyres (for fuel efficiency) while the Ciaz runs on wider rubber and still manages to be more frugal. Braking performance of both cars is good and the Ciaz’ wider rubber ensures it stops in a shorter distance.
Safety and After Sales Service – Maruti Suzuki’s dealership network is the biggest in the country and their service is the good too, thereby beating Honda although the latter isn’t far behind at all when it comes to service quality. The City isn’t a global model (it’s only sold in select markets and that too mostly in Asia) so it hasn’t gone through Euro NCAP tests but ASEAN NCAP has tested it and the car with dual airbags got a 4-star rating. Honda doesn’t offer six airbags and ESP on the City in India but that model got a full 5 stars. The Ciaz is yet to be tested but should perform reasonably well although Honda offers safety features on more variants than Maruti. ABS and driver side airbag is standard on all City variants but it’s not the same case with the Ciaz.
Verdict – Maruti Suzuki has put in a lot of effort in making the Ciaz and it shows. The latest Maruti on the block looks good, comes with a roomy cabin and has plenty of features too. This does make the Maruti Ciaz extremely competitive against the segment leading Honda City. Where the Ciaz falters big time is powertrains. The main rivals of Suzuki’s C-segment offering include the Honda City, Hyundai Verna, Volkswagen Vento and Skoda Rapid. In front of all these cars, the Ciaz in both petrol and diesel avatars is the least powerful. When Maruti has put in so much to develop the Ciaz, why has it ignored the engines? The powerplants on offer and the Maruti badge are reasons enough for the City to not worry but as a product the Ciaz is sure to sell, only eating into the Swift DZire. Overall being a better car, it’s the Honda City which emerges on top in this shootout.
The Maruti Ciaz is quite a good car and should sell in good numbers too but it won’t touch the Honda City as the segment leading vehicle continues to be the benchmark in the class, it’s simply a better overall package.
Further Reading –
Maruti Ciaz vs Honda City
Maruti Ciaz Review
Honda City Review
Honda City Diesel Review
Honda City Long Term Review
Honda City Long Term Report
Mega C-Segment Comparison
Honda City vs Volkswagen Vento AT