Words: Atul Bandhu
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga LUV = Love + RV + MUV + SUV + Cross-Over + Luxury Sedan + Hybrid
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga has been amongst the most underrated cars for years but not anymore. This biggest underdog is now making a mark in the Indian automobile scene and one of the major reasons for that is the incorporation of the SHVS technology, Yes its that very technology which made it possible for the car to be exempted from the ODD-EVEN rule in Delhi along with Ciaz SHVS. Well that can’t be enough for its success, but that is one major rabbit in Ertiga’s hat but even more feathers are uncoverd when it faces off with the competitors. As far as I can recall Maruti Suzuki Ertiga was the only car that actually gave a fight to Innova and that’s not an easy feat to achieve in the first place. We all are well aware of the Innova and we will take you through what makes the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga so special that it is giving the market leader a run for its money. (Spoiler Alert: The reason gets personal here)
The Success of Maruti Suzuki Ertiga had me all curious and with my focus generally being on naturally aspirated petrol cars, well it wasn’t the vehicle on my worklist but both my curiosity and the success of the car over the past quarter had the better of me. Maruti Suzuki people obliged me by sending in the Ertiga SHVS ZDi+ over the weekend. I had all plans jotted, noted and organised for the car until the car arrived. I spent few moments going in and around it……….Poooooooof 'Déjà vu' it is an modern RV just like one of my ancestral VW’s from my childhood. All pre-set plans ‘ctrl+del’ no trace if they ever existed. What to do next was exactly on my mind, I call my Ed to come and check out the car. He too was taken by surprise and I play my cards to take a “licence to chill” with this car.
Wasting no time I took the car around the blocks few times which turned out to be quite insightful for gauzing the behaviour and response of the car. The moment I felt in sync with the car I took few turns and landed up on the Greater Noida Expressway. (P.S. the Ed was in the passenger seat) Well laid out wide roads was my need for that hour which I realised after gulping few kilometres in low range driving. It’s the same 1.3L pot but with a VGT that helps it to churn out approx 90bhp, with absolutely slight turbo lag. My head was telling me yes it’s a freaking turbo diesel with a slightly better turbo response but the low NVH levels and absolutely minimal vibrations helped me go past the turbo and diesel dilemma. That was pretty much the end of that and the next moment I was gunning the gas pedal past everything in my way, I have had my share of fun with the Swift diesel before but this seemed much more smooth and subtle. What pleased me here was the fact that it doesn’t go mad when the turbo kicks in and that was done right to match my taste. In no time we arrive at Pari Chowk, with a side smirk on my face, Ed looking relaxed and our photographer asleep on the rear seat in a reclined position. I thought its better to keep going and headed back to office.
Considering the size and weight of the car the engine unit does come up short if you try to push the car hard and it eventually runs out of breath, with considerable rise in engine and road noise rise and it doesn’t feel well planted or confident. So high speed driving was a big ‘NO’ here.
To give you a heads up; he is 6 feet 4 and he felt comfortable siting in the front and rear seats (he gave the last row a miss for obvious reasons). On our way back he stated that he was quite impressed as to how silent the car was while crusing in three digits and the ride got noisy only in the top end. What impressed him more than anything else was the ride quality and suspension. The car soaked up everything well according to him.
Resisting my itch to drive, I finished all my work and cleared my worklog for the next two days. The day ended with no pending work left and a plan to leave for the Jaipur the next morning. With enough hours to sleep we left office. Before first light I left to pick up my crew and we headed to NH8. The car was crusing well on the highway doing triple digits and feeling sort of planted. I barely remember downshifting to overtake because I didn’t indulge in it for most part of my trip, taking into account the high throttle response of the car. Easy Crusing was a better off option when behind the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga’s wheel. Majority part of the NH8 is pretty smooth but occasional bad patches are ought to be there considering we still live in India, the car did pretty well on bad patches as well and we weren’t thrown around or bouncing in the car. The maneuverability was quite like a sedan going into curves but the inevitable body roll is there given the height of the car. With minimal efforts in driving we reached the majestic Amer fort. Nice stop to witness some history and Jodha Akbar’s shooting location, after winding up from there we were ready to get going again. Great walls and gates of the Pink City were standing as tall as ever greeting and welcoming us. A visit to Jaipur is incomplete without visiting the famous Hawa Mahal. The convenience of visiting this place puts it on my list everytime and boy we had a good time.
I have always hated driving in the Jaipur city, people have no traffic sense whatsoever, but as it is said work is work. Driving few odd kilometres in the city wasn’t a problem, with my plans to head back to Delhi that very day. Heading back on the same day helped in facilitating the test for the exhaustion factor experienced while driving this car. To my surprise I was still quite fresh after reaching Delhi so I decided to drop my crew to their place after driving the entire day. I clocked few more kilometres before calling it a day.
The big day was here, Sunday was decided as the day out for the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga in the capital. The traffic of Delhi NCR crawling the roads like ants was ready to welcome the Ertiga. The Ertiga SHVS wasn’t going to back down from this challenge…… but challenge!!!! Hahaha it was at home instead. The smart start and stop feature worked seamlessly and waiting in long parking and toll lines was no more a pain but constant use of this feature can get quite irritating with everyone honking around you, if such a situation come up there is a button to turn this feature off and drive around with bit more peace. It didn’t impressed me much but I would like to see this feature being incorporated into every Maruti Suzuki car in India in the near future, things we have to do for the environment. Another function of the hybrid system is the torque assist which also features in the super sportscar McLaren P1, but here it isn’t a big performer as the vehicle costs under 10 lakhs and expecting a huge performance from the hybrid system won’t be fair. Instead here it helps in boosting the economy of the car. I clocked over 750+ kilometres on tank full with city and highway driving combined, the combined average coming to 20 kmpl gets big thumbs up from me.
The updated version of the car sports a new front grill with chrome inserts, new bumpers, new alloys and a SHVS badging on the rear tailgate. The car retains its strong shoulder line and design. The big front headlamps do a fairly good job to light up the road just enough. Rear camera is neatly tucked under the rear chrome insert on the tailgate and does the job pretty well. This my friends is a very tall car with a ground clearance of 185mm. Turing left from the highway onto other terrains is also a viable option, though I suggest using a 4X4 always.
Overall it isn’t a very good looking car and would feel a lot bland to look at it every day in your garage. The front styling does disappoint and is despised by most of my female colleagues/friends.
This is one thing that distinguishes the Ertiga from rest of its family members. Step in and the beige and brown interiors greet you. The beige steering wheel does feel plush along with the interior theme and gives the car a very airy feel. The touch screen media player that doubles up as a screen for reverse camera is one major attraction. Being capable of Satellite Navigation, Apple car play, mirror linking smart phones, USB, AUX and FM/AM compatibility coupled up with steering mounted audio and phone controls, well while I was busy fiddling with the media system I realised how comfortable I was all this while given that it was scorching 42 degrees outside. The aircon does a commendable job to cool the cabin in no time. The list of other features include- electrically foldable outside mirrors, infotainment system, keyless entry, push button start stop button, button to disable the hybrid start-stop function. Rear seats with 60:40 split option, the rear seats can slide front and back with an adjustable backrest. The rear doors are so humongous that I almost had a flashback of stepping into Skoda Superb. The under thigh support is quite good in the front and rear seats, the third row is not very useable for average sized adults. The boot space is minimal with the third row seats upright. However I tried using the third row seating with the second row folded and that experience turned out to be impressive. The cabin ample number of storage spaces and cubby holes for all three rows.
Have second thoughts if you don’t have this car in your probable list and if this is not in your list yet then make change and put it among the top few spots, I can assure you once you test this car your opinion will never be the same again.
Few Let Downs
Front arm rest is dearly missed
The headlamps are awkwardly shaped
Lack of projector/double barrel headlamps
Lack of automatic day/night rear view mirror
No leather seats or door armrests, the beige tends to get dirty
Whats My Take?
To give an insight I prefer well-mannered cars with predictable handling. For me its very important that the car should give an adequate feedback to keep it under control even when I go flat out.
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga SHVS does too many things right which can’t be overlooked and they did impress me. The entertainment and infotainment system are at par. The ride and handling is so calm and composed, until you take a quick corner or make quick lane changes in high speed. The engine response is great and delivers linear power. The steering provides adequate feedback. The suspension setup soaks up anything and everything, with good ground clearance I didn’t have to worry much about anything on the highway or in the city.
It drives like sedan, has a stance of a SUV (you are seated as high as the Duster), with features to give most cars a run for their money, seats seven like a MPV, can be taken off-road like any other CrossOver. Its even Kejriwal safe!!! How? Incase he kicks sanity out of the window again to bring back the ODD-EVEN scheme you will exempted, apart from that you will be helping in reducing the carbon footprint without plugging in your vehicle.
If Wanderlust takes over you often, you feel like packing up getting away from your daily life or better if travelling is your life; then this should be your perfect Recreational Vehicle that can double up as a city car and a highway cruiser.
If you still have second thoughts the 20 kmpl mileage will top everything up for you. To sum it up It’s a steal deal…..go grab it if you can deal with way it looks.
Photography: Atul Bandhu