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Rating 9 9

2012 Maruti Ertiga review, road test

10th Aug 2012 4:58 pm

With the Ertiga, has Maruti come up with something genuinely unique, which is both practical and desirable? We find out.

  • Make : Maruti Suzuki
  • Model : Ertiga

The Ertiga’s driving dynamics are largely influenced by its long wheelbase – the 2.74-metre gap between the front and rear axles give this MPV good poise and straight-line stability for most situations. The flipside is that it 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. The Ertiga’s suspension works silently too and it’s just over sharp bumps that there is a mild thud from the suspension.

There is a bit of up-and-down motion over undulating surfaces and the diesel pitches a bit more in the front. However, at moderate speeds, this never gets uncomfortable and it’s only when you begin to push really hard that you long for a tauter setup.

Considering its MPV proportions, the Ertiga doesn’t roll excessively and the steering is fairly accurate too. What you do miss is a tighter turning circle and the ability to wiggle into tight parking spots as with a hatchback. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that the Ertiga is by far the most urban-friendly MPV in the market today.

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. Clever gearing and a low kerb weight are largely responsible for the Ertiga’s frugal nature and this once again drives home Maruti’s advantage in this crucial area.

The Ertiga’s wheelbase, at 2740mm, is a considerable 310mm longer than the Swift’s and the kerb weight has increased by around 155kg. But this is impressive considering it’s a seven-seater. Suzuki has kept the Ertiga’s weight in check with extensive use of lightweight high-tensile steel in its construction.

With a length of 4265mm, the Ertiga is a fair bit shorter than the other MPVs in the market, namely the Toyota Innova, Mahindra Xylo and Tata Aria. The Ertiga employs an independent, MacPherson-strut, coil-spring suspension at the front and a non-independent torsion beam setup at the rear. The brakes are also a conventional front disc and rear drum setup.

Styling is typically Suzuki, with swept-back headlights like the new Swift’s, and a grille and bonnet that resemble the Ritz. The overall design is pleasing, but not what you would call eye-catching. In fact, the van-like look, which clearly doesn’t exude the status and image of a saloon, is possibly the Ertiga’s biggest weakness.

Entry to the cabin is made easy by large doors that open wide. The dashboard is a straight lift from the Swift, which means quality and ergonomics are good. Even the door pads and other plastics are of good quality, and the Ertiga doesn’t feel built to a price. There’s a long list of equipment too, which includes 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, which are taken 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 high ‘hip point’, adjustable backrest, terrific headroom and decent legroom make the Ertiga’s middle bench a pretty comfortable place to be.

Move to the rear and it is clearly evident that the Ertiga can’t compete with the likes of the Xylo and Innova for sheer carpet area, but that said, the last row isn’t as uncomfortable as we thought. The narrow access means getting into the last row requires some contortion, and once you’re inside, shoulder room is tight and the squab is short.

The Ertiga’s best trick is the massive 240mm seat travel that allows you to deftly balance the 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. For more space, the third row can be folded flat. You also have the option to fold the middle row, and the 60:40 split further aids flexibility. Simply put, the cabin is far more useable than the Ertiga’s exterior dimensions would suggest.

The Ertiga comes with two engine options – the familiar Fiat-sourced 1.3 Multijet diesel and a brand new 1.4-litre K-series petrol. The petrol produces a peak output of 94bhp at 6000rpm and torque is 13.25kgm at 4000rpm, and its crisp throttle response is its biggest trump card. The power is evenly spread out over the rev range and power delivery is smooth and linear. Thanks to the short gearing and the torquey nature of the motor, you never feel short on power and progress is quite brisk. Driveability is fairly good too, and gearshifts are kept to a minimum. The petrol Ertiga manages to set very competitive times, with 100kph from rest 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 being impressive too.

The diesel Ertiga, on the other hand, uses the same 89bhp, variable-geometry turbo (VGT) engine that powers the SX4, but the gearing is quite different. So, despite it being heavier than the saloon, 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.

The fly in the ointment is the considerable turbo lag below 2000rpm and the lack of response
at low revs. Fall below 2000rpm and you will be forced to downshift to keep the engine on the boil. Once the turbo kicks in, there is a strong surge and the Ertiga picks up speed quite rapidly.

Out on the highway, the strong mid-range makes the diesel an able cruiser. 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. What’s also good is that both diesel and petrol engines come with smooth-shifting five-speed gearboxes allied to light and progressive clutches.
 

The Ertiga’s driving dynamics are largely influenced by its long wheelbase – the 2.74-metre gap between the front and rear axles give this MPV good poise and straight-line stability for most situations. The flipside is that it 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. The Ertiga’s suspension works silently too and it’s just over sharp bumps that there is a mild thud from the suspension.

There is a bit of up-and-down motion over undulating surfaces and the diesel pitches a bit more in the front. However, at moderate speeds, this never gets uncomfortable and it’s only when you begin to push really hard that you long for a tauter setup.

Considering its MPV proportions, the Ertiga doesn’t roll excessively and the steering is fairly accurate too. What you do miss is a tighter turning circle and the ability to wiggle into tight parking spots as with a hatchback. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that the Ertiga is by far the most urban-friendly MPV in the market today.

The Ertiga is a balancing act between size, practicality and ease of use that Maruti has played almost to perfection. It 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. 
To offset the upward spiral of petrol costs, Maruti has priced the base petrol variant at a mouth-wateringly low Rs 5.89 lakh, which makes it outstanding value. The diesel Ertiga, however, is significantly more expensive, with the top-end ZDi stretching to Rs 8.45 lakh. Also, the diesel motor feels sluggish at low speeds and the spiky power delivery can be annoying in traffic. 
For sheer versatility, there is no other vehicle at this price point that even comes close, and as a pure family car the Ertiga is hard to beat.

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