A lot happened in 2018. 30 new cars, including major updates to existing models, were launched across the price spectrum. It only made what is an already tough market, much tougher. More choices for consumers meant more competition for manufacturers. That meant manufacturers were working even harder to offer consumers more value per rupee. But how do we choose which car was best? There’s no way to compare an entry-level hatchback to a high-performance SUV or a luxurious limousine. What we do check is which car made a significant impact in its own segment. We check if there was a car that, well, changed the game in its segment in a way that its competitors could not.
HOW IT’S DONE
Our jury of experts doesn’t randomly decide which car deserves the coveted Car of the Year award. There is a precise scientific process for the jury to determine the contenders and then work out which car stands above all others launched in that year. With decades of experience and expertise between them, it’s no surprise that the jury consisted of Hormazd Sorabjee, Editor of Autocar India; Renuka Kirpalani, Editor, Autocar Show; Shapur Kotwal, Editor, WhatCar?; Manvendra Singh of Barwani, car historian; Gaurav Gill, ace rally driver and Narain Karthikeyan, ex-F1 racing driver.
Our expert panel of jurors, seen during some of the exhaustive tests to decide the Car of the Year 2019.
Each car had to meet a specific set of requirements to be eligible for the 2019 Car of the Year award. They are:
It should have been launched between January 1, 2018, and November 30, 2018, and be commercially available for purchase.
It needed to have a new body style (or significant sheet-metal changes), new or updated interiors, and a new engine.
Minor cosmetic upgrades would not qualify.
New engine options and added variants would only be eligible for the ‘Variant of the Year’ award.
It had to be homologated in India and be in series production.
It should have been tested by Autocar India and made available to the majority of the jury members for a test drive – sufficient to form an opinion.
After this, each car was put through a series of tests and an exhaustive list of parameters were analysed to decide the winner of the award.
In the end, one car emerged above all the others to clinch top honours – the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga. It was so good, it even bagged the ‘Value for Money Car of the Year’ award and the ‘MPV of the Year’ award. Turn the page over to find out why.
CHOOSING THE CAR OF THE YEAR
The voting process at the Autocar Car of the Year Awards is designed to pick the most outstanding car from the list of contenders. The jury is assisted by objective test data and analyses conducted by Autocar India which has exhaustively tested all eligible vehicles. Every car was individually assessed but ranked in relation to its direct market rivals. This is the full list of parameters and the Ertiga excelled almost everywhere:
Design and Styling
Fitness for purpose
Relevance to market
Value for money
Engine, gearbox and performance
Ride, handling and brakes
RAISING THE BAR
The first-generation Ertiga was a very competent car. It was easy to drive, had compact dimensions, seven seats, very efficient engines and even a CNG option. Moreover, its aggressive pricing combined with Maruti’s huge support network saw over 4.2 lakh units sold across the country in about six years. Maruti Suzuki has now taken that car and made it even better. Take a look at the parameters where the Ertiga excelled.
DESIGN AND STYLING
It’s much more stylish than the first–gen, van-like Ertiga. Swept-back projector headlamps, an attractive chrome-studded grille and a flattish bonnet give it a distinct identity. There’s a chiselled waistline, chrome door handles and multi-spoke wheels. The blacked-out D-pillar for the ‘floating roof’ look adds freshness. On the back, the L-shaped, 3D tail-lamps with LEDs look classy, too. Put together, the new Ertiga is a very desirable package.
The projector headlamps, chrome-studded grille and sharp lines add a ton of style to the Ertiga.
FITNESS FOR PURPOSE
The new Maruti Suzuki Ertiga is built on the carmaker’s fifth-generation Heartect platform, which is much lighter than the previous one. This Ertiga is also 99mm longer, 40mm wider and 5mm taller than before. The Ertiga’s third row has more legroom now and reclines for added comfort. The boot size has also increased to 209 litres. This makes it a practical, efficient and comfortable people mover that works in an urban environment without compromising its highway presence.
RELEVANCE TO MARKET AND VALUE FOR MONEY
MPVs today have to be evolved. They have to function well as family cars. The Ertiga has done that; and well. Its all-new sculpted dashboard with wooden finish has been crafted with high-quality materials. The Multi-Information Colour Display shows the car’s vital information while the 7.0-inch SmartPlay Infotainment System with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto keeps you connected and entertained. The leather-wrapped, flat-bottom, multi-function steering wheel, the interior chrome accents, the air-vents with their premium feel add style. The front seats are also larger, more supportive and along with a new sliding front armrest ensure enhanced levels of comfort.
There’s more space and comfort for passengers too. The smart flexi-seating along with third-row recliner seats and second-row air conditioning enrich the cabin experience. A host of cubbyholes add practicality. A 60:40 split for the second row and 50:50 split for the third row help expand the 209-litre boot space to 803 litres.
The new Ertiga is longer, wider, taller and better than the older model in every single way.
Put it all together and you get a car that packed with user-friendly features, comfort, and practicality as required by its consumers – and it’s available at a price point that makes it great value for money.
ENGINE, GEARBOX AND PERFORMANCE
The Ertiga is powered by an all-new K15 petrol engine with Progressive Smart Hybrid Technology in a dual-battery set-up that provides idle start-stop, regenerates energy from braking and has Torque Assist functionality. This means that the engine is more powerful and more efficient at the same time. It’s even available as a manual or an automatic. Fun for everyone.
The DDiS200 diesel engine has Proven Smart Hybrid Technology that adds efficiency and a variable geometry turbo that generates optimal power and torque.
And the results are:
1 GREAT CAR.
Maruti Suzuki heard everything its customers wanted and built the all-new Ertiga to meet their demands – and how!
Value for Money Car of the Year
The Ertiga was already a success. But the Indian consumer is never satisfied. Maruti Suzuki understood what its consumers wanted and delivered more of everything – space, features, fuel efficiency, the works. It even added feel-good features like an overall sense of being more premium, cooled cupholders and more to up the value offered. The new Ertiga then presents great value and a lot more.
With three awards for the Ertiga, the Maruti Suzuki team soon became familiar figures on stage.
MPV of the Year
MPV buyers don’t just want a vehicle to move people and things around anymore. Maruti Suzuki understood that buyers have evolved and designed an Ertiga that people would want. It looks upmarket, has new-age features, improved comfort and ride quality and has uncompromised practicality. In its segment and at its price point, this is the best MPV in the country.
Mr Kenichi Ayukawa, MD & CEO, Maruti Suzuki; Mr R S Kalsi, Senior Executive Director, Marketing and Sales, and Mr C V Raman, Senior Executive Director, Engineering, receive the MPV of the year award for the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga.
Car of the Year
Maruti Suzuki was smart. It leveraged the existing set of Ertiga owners to create the new model. It transformed a well-liked, practical MPV into a desirable family car. It looks premium on the outside, meets the shift in buyer preferences to petrol and adds efficiency with a dual-battery mild-hybrid setup. It has an automatic gearbox on offer, too. Interior quality has also been stepped up and there’s a lot of space and flexibility for second- and third-row passengers. It has thoughtful touches like cooled cup-holders. Put all the little details together, and the Ertiga comes across as a very pleasant car to live with. It’s exactly what MPV buyers and family car buyers wanted; and now they can have it – the Autocar India 2019 Car of the Year, Maruti Suzuki Ertiga.