Review of the new Maruti Ertiga Petrol : manual & automatic

All-new Maruti Ertiga: Reviewed!

Maruti launched the all-new, second generation Ertiga earlier this week and we drove the petrol versions, both manual and automatic yesterday. This model was already on sale in some international markets and is available in a total of 10 different versions in India. How good is the new Ertiga and most importantly, what are the key changes? Read on to know the answers!

Does it look better? 

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In a word, YES! The new Ertiga has not only grown in dimensions, it now looks mature and bolder. There is simply no resemblance with the outgoing model. The raised hood, prominent four slate chrome grille and large headlamps dominate the front end and make the Ertiga look smarter than ever before. Even the bumper is sculpted rather well and looks far too sporty for a family MPV. No DRLs or fancy LED lights here but projectors do the job well.

The side profile showcases the new 15-inch alloy wheels. These aren’t fancy with a diamond cut look or chrome splash but yet look elegant and gel along well with the car. The shoulder line is prominent and merges into the D pilar which also raises your eyebrows for a reason. The glass area here isn’t too much and the metal sheet actually moves upwards and looks ‘different’. That said, the glass area for the front two doors is massive, which does make the interiors airy – more on this later.

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The rear of the Ertiga is busy. Like the front lamps that are large, even the tail lights are huge – they are wide as well as tall. And then there is the prominent boot lip which looks German-ish and the bumper here, like the front one, is sporty for a MPV. All in all, though a busy rear, it does make you stare at the Ertiga. The overall design change sure is massive and we have quite a few heads turning around during our media drive. Before we move ahead to the interiors, here is our video review as well:

Does the cabin feel upmarket? 

Again, in a word, YES! Like the exteriors, the cabin of the new Ertiga wears a new design theme with no resemblance to the out going version. The dual tone theme works well with a lower beige part and a darker shade for the upper fascia. What really puts a smile on your face is the design – this includes the faux wooden inserts and the horizontal theme for the middle part (air-con vents) do stand out. Ditto for the flat bottom steering wheels and the speedometer console with the TFT screen, a lift off from the Ciaz (only for the petrol). I also love the climate control panel and the clutter free theme imparts a sense of being in a much expensive car. And then there are the dual charging out, space for the largest of mobile phones and ventilated cup holders, a segment first.

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Getting in is easy and once seated, you appreciate the soft seat – thought this might be of discomfort over longer journeys. Both under thigh support and side bolstering is impressive and though the front central arm-rest is small, it gets the sliding function. Visibility is excellent and given the extra width and height, even tall drivers like me will feel at home. However, no dead pedal here, neither do you get a sunglass holder or a cooled glovebox. Even a cruise control is missing. Why Maruti?

Getting into the 2nd row is fairly easy, thanks to doors that open very wide. With the front seat positioned for my height, I still had about 2-3 inches of knee room at the back. The 2nd row gets a 60:40 split both slide and recline functions. You do get your arm-rest and a charging outlet but what really sets the ball rolling is the sense of space and airiness. Even shorter passengers will not feel hammered in and this is very essential to keep passengers happy. As expected, the 3rd row now gets additional space and you have extra 70mm knee room in here. This has been made possible by shifting the engine slightly forward. I did try my luck in here and first, getting in was fairly easy and once seated, its was not bad at all. I had still had about 2 inches of space between my head and the roof, visibility was nice, two cup holders, a charging outlet and guess what, even the 3rd row gets a 50:50 split with reclining seats. This is seriously good and average sized adults will not find a reason to complain. The only area where the Marazzo scores brownie points is in the optional captain seats for the middle row, which further frees up some space for 3rd row occupants.

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And we aren’t done yet – even with the 3rd row in place, boot space is simply impressive. You can easily place a couple of overnight strollers, two soft bags, a large tripod and more. And then there is the concealed storage space with proper hard covers – very useful to keep your expensive stuff from getting stolen.

Is there is a new engine in there? 

YES again! The new Eritga gets a new 1.5-litre petrol engine, the one that we first saw in the Ciaz a few months back. It replaces the older 1.4 unit and expectedly puts out more power and higher torque. In terms of numbers, power has gone up from 93 to 103 bhp and torque from 130 to 138Nm without hitting the ever essential fuel economy figure. The new Ertiga comes with a rated fuel economy of 18.69 kmpl for the AT model and 19.34 kmpl for the manual one.

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Numbers aside, how does the petrol Ertiga drive? I was very impressed with the Ciaz petrol during the drive a couple of months back and the Ertiga delivered the same promise yesterday. I started with the manual first and it immediately felt more eager than I expected. There is so much torque available in the low rev range, you can potter in traffic at as low as 35-40 km/h in the 5th gear and yet pick up speeds with no unwanted protest from the powertrain. This also allowed me to crawl in slow moving traffic at 15-20km/h in the 3rd gear. And this does help a lot to keep the mileage figures high. Out on the open Gurgaon-Faridabad road, the engine delivered yet again, sounding great in the process. The gear shift action too is nice, something we expected in the Ciaz as well.

The automatic Ertiga is a very interesting product. It simply makes driving an easy task and fools you into believing that you are driving a much smaller vehicle. I agree its just a 4-speed set-up but until unless you will be hitting the highway every single day, I dont see any reason why this should not be the pick of the lot. Being a torque converter, there is no unwanted lag during shifts and though you don’t get an option to manually override the ‘box, it does allow you to be in the 1st or the 2nd gear – very useful during downhill drives. Do note that the automatic is only available with the VXI and the ZXI trims, not with the top spec ZXI+ variant.

What about the chassis? 

The new Ertiga makes use of the 5th generation HEARTECT platform which further sees strengthening at various places. Its also a stiffer chassis and yet, the new model weighs more or less same as the older version. The new chassis also brings along reduction in NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels but most importantly, a completely new suspension set-up lends a new found comfort level to the MPV. I agree its been a while since I drove the Ertiga but the new one, even without comparing to the older model, feels so comfortable. On the move, there is simply no way you can term it as a large people mover. It feels composed, rides over bad roads in a mature way and there is simply no underlying firmness so even sharper undulations are taken care of well. I would indeed term the ride as plush!

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The Gurgaon-Faridabad stretch has ample opportunities for the crazy speeds and the long flowing curves had the Ertiga showcase perfect poise and balance. Yes, its not a great handling car by any means but for a MPV, it scores top marks. Handling is predictable, steering retains some feedback at higher speeds and brakes do what they are meant to be. However what matters is the way it drives for everyday users and Maruti has achieved a good balance in this regard. The steering for example is light at crawling speeds and this MPV feels agile in traffic, closing in on gaps across lanes easily. Good work there Suzuki (and Maruti).

Should you buy one?

The new Ertiga, inspite of being more expensive than the outgoing version, has no competition at India. The Honda BRV petrol is about 2 lakh expensive while the base Ertiga diesel is approximately Rs 1.2 lakh cheaper than the base Marazzo. If you are in the market for a proper 7 seater and will be driving along with your better half, little ones and parents, the Ertiga makes for the best choice in the price band. The makeover looks nice, there is increased cabin space, that important premium feel and an engine that delivers both performance and economy. Yes a few features are missing but that is definitely not a deal breaker. Infact, the new Ertiga is a very good (and cheaper) alternative to the C segment sedans, including its own sibling, the Ciaz. ‘enuf said!

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