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Rating 9 9

Maruti Suzuki Ritz ZXi

9th Dec 2009 8:00 am

With prices starting of Rs 4.53lakh (on-road, Mumbai) for the petrol, Maruti has assured the Ritz a strong start.

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  • Make : Maruti Suzuki
  • Model : Ritz

Tall boy designs are difficult to make attractive as they are not only as tall as SUVs, but their tiny footprint means they often look more like a post box than a car. Though the Ritz is a good 90mm taller than the Swift, it suffers none of those maladies. Its steeply raked windscreen, sloping roof and prominent wheel arches prevent it from being a mere flat panel job. Striking details like the prominent nose with its almost-Audi-like pouting grille, the tipped-forward stance with its rising beltline and, of course, those boomerang-shaped tail-lights which make for a jaunty angle.  

The talking point is the brand new K-series petrol motor which is an all-aluminium, twin cam, 16-valve design which comes with a raft of technical advances normally reserved for more expensive cars. It uses distributor-less ignition (one coil per spark plug), throttle-by-wire, an offset crankshaft, and lightweight pistons and connecting rods. 
 
Unique for India is a marginally reduced bore and stroke to bring the capacity below 1.2 litres to qualify for small car tax benefits. In other markets, the same engine known as the K12B has a 1242cc capacity.

 The Ritz’s interiors are smartly styled as well and quality has taken a huge leap forward. Except for the hard plastics on the door pads, a few of the buttons and ordinary looking air-con controls, the materials and fabrics used inside are worthy of a premium hatch. The heavily textured effect on the dashboard feels rich and the silver-coloured piping around the centre console and the vents lift the mood of the cabin. The dash has an oval theme and a subtle two-tone colour scheme. And the seats are blue as well, but we found them a touch garish. 

The ZXi gets the stereo integrated into the dash while the LXi/LDi have to make do with aftermarket sound systems. You’ll also notice a lot of common Maruti bits and pieces in the car, like the steering wheel and gear lever that’s the same as the Swift and SX4’s, while the standalone tachometer pod is shared the A-star, but in the Ritz it’s moved to the left and doesn’t obstruct visibility. Unique to the Ritz is the large, white circular speedo which adds a lively feel to the dashboard.
Up front, there’s generous legroom and forward visibility is excellent from the high seating position. However, the thick C-pillar causes some blind spots and the tailgate’s narrow glass area are a hindrance while reversing. 
Legroom in the rear isn’t exactly generous, but the high-set seats, with good under-thigh support and generous headroom, compensate. 
The wide recess above the glovebox, a jewel case on top of the centre console and large door pockets provide more than adequate storage space. The 178-litre boot is disappointingly small and can hold a couple of soft bags at best. However, the 60:40 split rear seats do help.

A comfortable ride and good ground clearance are essential for mass acceptance in India and Maruti has made sure both these essentials are taken care of. The Ritz’s suspension has been raised and softened to deal with our road conditions, which will make it appeal to a wider audience. Ride is much better than the sportier setup of the Swift and the Ritz takes to our rutted and potholed roads with a greater sense of calm. You don’t need to steer around rough patches, the suspension taking the punches silently and it’s only the larger bumps that unsettle the Ritz. 
The tyres on the Ritz are identical to those on the Swift, 165s for the L and V versions and 185s for the Z. The softer setup, however, means that the Ritz lacks the Swift’s sporty edge. Straightline stability and roadholding are good but the rear tends to pitch on an undulating surface at speed. The softer suspension settings and tall stance result in considerable body roll but you always have a sense of control, at any speed. Key to the secure feeling the Ritz imparts is the steering which has none of the dead feel around the straight-ahead position you find in the Swift. The Ritz’s steering feels linear, precise and shows how electric steering (EPS) has dramatically improved.

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