Maruti Suzuki Er­tiga

A big­ger and more pow­er­ful new petrol en­gine, a spa­cious cabin with new fea­tures, and a more ap­peal­ing de­sign. Could the new-gen­er­a­tion Maruti Suzuki Er­tiga get any bet­ter?

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The new Er­tiga is big­ger, more pow­er­ful, and comes loaded with fea­tures

“As­pi­ra­tional De­sign, En­hanced Com­fort and Su­pe­rior Per­for­mance” — this is how Maruti Suzuki de­scribe the re­cently launched Er­tiga, their last and, per­haps, the most im­por­tant launch of 2018. Let us see if it truly stands up to that de­scrip­tion.

The first-gen­er­a­tion Er­tiga was in­tro­duced in In­dia in 2012 and the com­pact MPV cre­ated a new seg­ment, called LUV (life util­ity ve­hi­cle). Hav­ing com­pleted its life cy­cle, the fam­ily car has now been given a makeover. Not just a facelift, but a ma­jor re­vamp which in­cludes a new Hear­t­ect plat­form that un­der­pins the Swift, the Baleno, and the Dzire. With abun­dant use of high-ten­sile steel, the Er­tiga is 20 kilo­grams lighter than be­fore and safer too. It’s also larger now. While the sus­pen­sion set-up has been im­proved fur­ther, the 2018 model gets a larger ca­pac­ity K15 petrol en­gine equipped with a 48-volt elec­tri­cal sys­tem.

Be­sides, it looks a lot bet­ter than the older Er­tiga and def­i­nitely more pre­mium and up­mar­ket now. The front de­sign is taller and flat­ter and the higher vari­ants also get a chromium-plate grille. The head­lamp is sharp and come with pro­jec­tor units. A sportier look­ing front bumper has a stylish fog-lamp hous­ing, while the prom­i­nent creases on the bon­net com­plete the ag­gres­sive front de­sign.

The new Er­tiga looks more stylish from the side as well, thanks to the smart float­ing roof de­sign and the prom­i­nent shoul­der- and belt-lines. The wheels are larger than be­fore and the higher vari­ants get good­look­ing al­loys with Bridge­stone tyres. The tail-lamps are po­si­tioned high and over­lap the boot-lid, while the chrome strip adds a dash of bling. The over­all rear de­sign lan­guage, how­ever, seems to be in­spired by some mod­els from other car-mak­ers.

The Er­tiga has grown in size; it is wider, taller and, more im­por­tantly, longer as well. This gives it a big-car like ap­peal and also lib­er­ates more knee-room in all the three rows of seat­ing. When you get in­side, you’re wel­comed by a fa­mil­iar Maruti cabin which uses plenty of parts from other cars based on this plat­form. Bits such as the steer­ing wheel, door-han­dles, power win­dow switches, gear lever, and the hand­brake have been bor­rowed from them. The fit-and-fin­ish is also on a par with the Swift and Dzire and doesn’t re­ally stand out as an MPV seg­ment bench­mark.

The big up­date is the new dash­board. It gets flat­ter and more up­right now and also dons an in­ter­est­ing set of slats to match the a-c vents. Like many lux­ury cars, there isn’t a large cen­tre con­sole, which makes the cabin look pretty pre­mium. Higher vari­ants get a float­ing-type sev­eninch touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with An­droid Auto, Ap­ple CarPlay, nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, and a rear cam­era. The in­fo­tain­ment comes with four speak­ers and two tweet­ers, although the au­dio qual­ity doesn’t sound very rich.

The top-end petrol ZXi we drove comes with a 4.2inch colour driver’s in­for­ma­tion dis­play which shows av­er­age fuel econ­omy, power and torque out­put, and the power-flow from the hy­brid sys­tem, apart from in­di­vid­ual door-ajar warn­ing and an ana­logue clock. The diesel vari­ants just get a ba­sic Multi-in­for­ma­tion Dis­play (MID) for the driver. You also get au­dio and call­ing con­trols on the steer­ing wheel, which is ad­justable only for tilt and not for reach.

As for safety fea­tures, the Er­tiga gets dual airbags, ABS with EBD, and the newly im­ple­mented (and rather an­noy­ing) 80 km/h and 120 km/h alerts. I got my hands on the man­ual ver­sion, but top au­to­matic vari­ants also get Hill-Hold and ESP. Other fea­tures in­clude a cou­ple of USB ports in front and charg­ing out­lets for the se­cond- and third-row seats. The good bit here are the roof-mounted a-c vents for the rear

pas­sen­gers, while the top two vari­ants also get au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol. All three rows get cup- and bot­tle-hold­ers and the ones at the front come with cool­ing vents.

The seats have be­come roomier and of­fer greater flex­i­bil­ity. There’s clearly more all-around shoul­der-room. The front seats are sup­port­ive yet soft enough and re­main com­fort­able even dur­ing long hours of driv­ing. The se­cond row gets a con­ve­nient sin­gle-touch slide func­tion and is 60:40 split to im­prove third-row knee-room and stor­age space. This bench-type seat isn’t as sup­port­ive but of­fers de­cent com­fort. The last row is not just 50:50 split but also gets re­clin­ing back­rest. It is flat and very low, mak­ing it the least ac­com­moda­tive here. Thank­fully, the larger win­dows and the big quar­ter glass be­tween the C- and D-pil­lars make the cabin more airy and roomy. Most im­por­tantly for a seven-seater, the large open­ing doors and slid­ing mid­dle row make get­ting in and out of the Er­tiga fairly con­ve­nient.

The in­crease in the length of the car has also cre­ated more room for lug­gage. With the third row in place, you get 209 litres of stor­age that can ac­com­mo­date a cou­ple of suit­cases. Top­pling the third row makes 550 litres of lug­gage space avail­able and it can be in­creased fur­ther to 803 litres if you fold down the se­cond row of seats. There’s plenty of util­ity space in the car, such as a split lug­gage board which can be used for ex­tra stor­age.

We started our drive in the new K15, 1.5-litre petrol which was re­cently in­tro­duced with the new Ciaz. This four-cylin­der en­gine makes 105 PS at 6,000 rpm and 138 Nm of torque which comes at 4,400 rpm. The en­gine isn’t the most re­fined petrol in its class nor the most spir­ited but comes equipped with in­ter­est­ing bits of tech­nol­ogy. It gets a mild-hy­brid sys­tem with dual bat­tery set-up, where one acts as a usual power sup­ply while the se­cond bat­tery, lo­cated un­der co­driver seat, uses brake en­ergy re­gen­er­a­tion to as­sist the en­gine. The petrol comes with either a five-speed man­ual, which we drove, or the four-speed au­to­matic which we hope to drive soon. The man­ual shifts have pre­cise, short throws which, with a light clutch, make liv­ing with it nice and easy.

For the ur­ban life, the en­gine of­fers ef­fort­less power de­liv­ery and re­mains com­posed as it goes about its duty. Drive it hard and the en­gine takes a few sec­onds to spool up and needs a lit­tle more low-end power. The mid-range is much bet­ter and from there the flow of power is lin­ear all the way to the red-line. How­ever, at high revs, the en­gine does be­gin to sound strained.

As you de­mand more power, the hy­brid torque as­sist can be felt kick­ing in around 4,500 rpm which can be seen on the MID graph­ics. And when the car de­cel­er­ates, the en­ergy re­couped is used to recharge the lithium-ion bat­tery. The hy­brid sys­tem is also use­ful in the stop-go city traf­fic. The en­gine start-stop sys­tem helps it achieve a claimed 19.34 km/l.

Once I was done driv­ing the petrol ver­sion, I also took the DDIS 200 ver­sion for a quick spin. This is the same 1.3-litre diesel en­gine that was seen in the out­go­ing model and it con­tin­ues to churn out 90 PS at 4,000 rpm and 200 Nm at 1,750 rpm. It’s a tried and tested unit which has proved its met­tle over the years and there’s noth­ing dif­fer­ent here either. It comes in com­bi­na­tion with a start-stop hy­brid sys­tem which aims to con­serve fuel and claims to re­turn a slightly im­proved fuel econ­omy of 25.47 km/l.

As be­fore, this oil-burner is a noisy unit with ev­i­dent diesel clat­ter right from idling. And so is the turbo-lag. One has to ne­go­ti­ate steep in­clines or a speed-breaker in first gear as the puny en­gine takes a while to gather speed, es­pe­cially with a full com­ple­ment on board. Be­ing 70 kg heav­ier than the petrol ver­sion doesn’t help mat­ters either. But once it gets over the ini­tial lag,

there’s am­ple torque on de­mand and the Er­tiga cruises ahead briskly.

The rev-happy diesel of­fers strong mid-range per­for­mance and darts ahead once past the 2,000-rpm bar­rier and it keeps go­ing con­fi­dently past the 5,000-rpm mark. As in the petrol, the easy to slot five-speed man­ual gear­box and light clutch com­bi­na­tion make the diesel vari­ant equally easy to drive around. Speak­ing of which, the Er­tiga sus­pen­sion has been im­proved and tuned for sta­bil­ity and com­fort and now the ride feels more plush than be­fore. Thanks to the good re­bound damp­ing, it re­mains im­pres­sively com­posed over bad roads. Even while driv­ing fast over long stretches of un­du­lat­ing sur­face, the oc­cu­pants hardly feel much of the harsh­ness as the sev­enseater soaks in most of it.

In fact, the Er­tiga drives more like a tall hatch­back than a long MPV. There’s barely any trace of wal­low­ing or pitch­ing and, sur­pris­ingly, it doesn’t have the usual body-roll that’s com­mon to big seven-seaters while dart­ing through fast bends. The com­posed, car-like han­dling not just makes this Maruti easy to man­age but also re­sults in fa­tigue-free long-dis­tance driv­ing. The de­pend­able Bridge­stone tyres also have a role to play here. They en­sure a solid grip and never screech in protest. The only scope for im­prove­ment here would be a bit more steer­ing feed­back that would make the Er­tiga a more en­gag­ing car to drive.

The big­gest at­trac­tion of the Er­tiga is its af­ford­able price. This Maruti un­der­cuts com­pe­ti­tion such as the much larger Toy­ota In­nova Crysta and even the re­cently in­tro­duced Mahin­dra Marazzo by quite a mar­gin. If you look closely, the base petrol man­ual LXi vari­ant costs Rs 7.44 lakh (ex-show­room, Delhi) which falls in the price bracket of an av­er­age hatch­back. The top­spec petrol ZXi+ we drove is priced at Rs 9.50 lakh and the diesel ZDi+ has a sticker of Rs 10.90 lakh (both ex-show­room, Delhi). That’s stun­ning value.

The MPV body-type, in gen­eral, may not be as ap­peal­ing as an SUV, but the Er­tiga as a prod­uct has be­come far more de­sir­able. Add to the mix Maruti’s de­pend­abil­ity and very us­able seven seats and it makes for an un­ri­valled com­bi­na­tion.

( Top) The new dash­board with a float­ing touch­screen looks pre­mium ( Above) The in­fo­tain­ment comes with An­droid Auto, Ap­ple CarPlay, nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, and a rear cam­era ( Right) The petrol ZXi comes with a colour driver’s in­for­ma­tion con­sole, ( Belowright) While the diesel ZDi of­fers a ba­sic MID for the driver

( Left) The se­cond row seats gets a con­ve­nient sin­gle-touch slide func­tion

( Above) The cup-hold­ers for the front seats come with cool­ing vents

( Above) The chrome grille and pro­jec­tor head­lamps add to the big car ap­peal

( Be­low) The pow­er­ful new 1.5-litre petrol makes 105 PS and 138 Nm

( Left) The rear styling seems to be in­spired by that of other car-mak­ers

( Above) Plenty of stor­age space and flex­i­ble seats make it a prac­ti­cal MPV

( Above) Roof-mounted a-c vents for the rear pas­sen­gers, while top vari­ants also get au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol

( Be­low) The split third row gets re­clin­ing back­rest along with a cupholder and a charg­ing point

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