The Maruti Ertiga. Launched in 2012, it redefined the way we Indians looked at a family MPV or a people carrier in terms of practicality, comfort and reliability. Priced about 40% less than the Innova, the Ertiga continues to dominate the market with an average of 7000 units on a monthly basis. That’s more numbers than what Skoda and Volkswagen combined together manage across their model line-up.
So when the Ertiga diesel came to us on 14th March for a long term stint, I was more than eager to under the reasons for its popularity. 100 days later, we at Cartoq have used it for almost 5500km across terrains. Driven by various team mates and for various purposes, the Ertiga went for a couple of trips to Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. It even hauled up five adults, three kids and four suitcases from the airport last week.
The current gen Ertiga was launched in November 2018 and got an engine upgrade just a few months back. In the middle of this, Maruti silently introduced a darker shade for the alloy wheels on the top end version and this change does make the Ertiga look classier. We have the model from the initial batch and hence the silver look wheels but neverthless, the updated design does make it look more car like and acceptable even at the most lavish of parties or the most luxurious hotels.
Date of arrival: 14th March 2019
Odo reading at arrival: 3705
Current odo reading: 9132
Fuel economy: 22kmpl (highway), 16-17kmpl (city)
But where the Ertiga scores top marks are in the interior department. Seating for 7 and yet enough space for small suitcases is its USP. Thanks to a new platform and a million changes, Maruti and Suzuki managed to scoop out a lot of additional space. Adding flexibility here are the split 2nd-row seats that can be reclined or adjusted for legroom independently. This has come handy multiple times on road trips. And then the cooled cup holders that do work wonders to keep drinks cooled – temperatures have been hovering over 40 for the past one month and this feature has come handy.
Talking of temperatures, giving the large glass area that helps in visibility and airiness, the air-con takes it own time cooling down the cabin. I have to roll down all the windows, park the car in a shade, rev the engine to about 1500rpm and wait for five minutes before cool air starts coming in. On the move, if you are stuck in traffic with the sun overhead, rear seat passengers do start sweating. However, on the move, things become better. May be the 1.5 diesel variant fares better but I will reserve my opinion till I drive it.
The 1.3-litre diesel motor is a tried and tested unit and thanks to short gearing, the Ertiga as fared well for our trips. Like the one to Shoghi (near Shimla) where we had packed the car with four adults, 2 kids and a lot of luggage and had ample uphil sections leading to this off-beat hill station. The mid-range is what keeps you going though I agree, the low end punch leaves you wanting for more. Again though, the new 1.5 motor should have solved this. In terms of economy, the Ertiga does over 22 kmpl on the highways when driven in the 80-90 km/h range. In city, this falls to 16-17 kmpl in a mix of traffic and open roads. Not bad considering the rivals, eh?
Another area where the Ertiga has time and again proved its credentials is in the way it drives. Like a car. Getting in and out is easy, visibility is excellent, the steering is light and you can pilot it through the narrowest of roads without feeling nervous. Ride remains plaint though at speeds and with a load of passengers, you have to take into account this is a MPV after-all. Steering inputs need to be smooth and not sudden and the body roll on twisties takes time getting used to.
Feature wise, customers will not have a reason to complain. A good audio set-up with the works, keyless entry with start-stop and safety kit included, the only thing it misses out on is a cruise control. Given that families love road trips, a cruise control really makes life easier for the driver.
Will we miss the Ertiga here at Cartoq? Definitely. This practical and multi-tasking workhorse has won our hearts. Never thought an MPV would do that. Goodbye 6885.