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New Ertiga brings fresh appeal to MPV segment

S Muralidhar | Updated on November 29, 2018 Published on November 29, 2018

The multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) segment is the most unglamourous in the Indian car market. But, with joint families being more the norm than the exception, almost every car buyer is tempted to consider one, usually as his or her second vehicle. However, most buyers loathe the dowdy, ‘fatherly’ image that MPVs and family vans, on average, tend to represent. Also, many MPVs run the risk of being considered people movers if they become popular amongst fleet operators and taxis.

The Toyota Innova and the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga are the only two MPVs that have managed to beat the image problem and have been popular in both the fleet or institutional buyer and the individual buyer segments. Many others have tried and have fallen by the wayside with negligible sales. Maruti is of course an old hand in the business of affordable MPVs, offering the Omni, the Versa and then the EECO in its line-up even before the Ertiga joined them. With changes in product driven by new regulations becoming inevitable, the focus has shifted towards the Ertiga, which too needs to evolve to adhere to the new safety and emissions rules.

The complete overhaul of the Ertiga for the 2019 model year is Maruti’s answer to an evolving market for MPVs. A sedan-like countenance and feature list, and additions like the K15 petrol engine from the Ciaz, as also the Smart Hybrid technology from the sedan make the new Ertiga seem very promising on paper. Does it feel equally interesting to drive, and should you hit the pause button on that sedan you’ve been eyeing and choose the new Ertiga instead?

Design

The previous generation Ertiga, launched in 2012, looked a little ungainly, but its design was saved by the obvious carry-overs from the Swift. But, that still left it looking disproportionate and too focussed on practicality. The new gen Ertiga corrects that by adopting a completely fresh design language. Maruti’s vehicles have hardly been known to follow a family lineage design philosophy and the new gen Ertiga is one more example. An aggressive, youthful front profile has been attempted with the new sleeker, sedan-like headlamps that seem connected to the bonnet grille and the dual-tone, oversized fender with integrated airdam.

The new Ertiga has been built on the fifth generation Heartect platform just like the Swift. The new platform is lighter but more rigid and helps the Ertiga meet stricter crash safety norms for frontal offset and side impact, as also pedestrian protection regulations. The 2019 Ertiga has also grown in proportions; it is longer, taller and wider. But the new design manages to hide its larger size, especially at the rear, where the Volvo-like new vertical combination for the tail-lamps makes the Ertiga look more like a crossover than an MPV. Also abetting the deception is the floating roof concept created by a part of the C-pillar being covered by the large rear quarter glass merging into the tailgate just above the tail lamps (very much like in the Swift). Despite a fairly compact rear glass, the Ertiga still gets a big greenhouse thanks to large windows, which contribute to an airy cabin. The new Ertiga’s design has also led to the A-pillar becoming more angled with a mild reduction in the front blind-spot. Another highlight are the new 15-inch, multi-spoke alloy wheels (top-trim).

Cabin

The new Ertiga’s cabin is a refreshing change compared to the outgoing model. It just feels so much cleaner, brighter and better finished than the previous generation. Again the finish quality and features of the cabin are a mix of sedan-like feel and practicality. The extra length for the new gen Ertiga, from the longer rear overhang, delivers more space in the cabin. This finally feels like a seven-seater, with the two reclining seats of the third row now being very usable even by small-made adults. The other seats are also better cushioned and bolstered, with the second row 60:40 seats also offering a 15-degree recline and fore and aft adjustments.

Safety standard: The new Ertiga gets a bunch of safety equipment as standard and the AT variants even get ESP and Hill Hold   -  S Muralidhar

 

The cabin sports a dual tone theme with a mushroom grey and beige colour combination. There is an air of Suzuki about it, but that is still now a big plus. The cabin may not be luxurious, but it is still plush. The faux maple wood inserts, for example, are fake alright, but not obviously so. The leather-wrapped, flat bottomed steering wheel with wood insert is a bit much in an MPV, but it is so well finished and integrated that it fits. There are a number of small storage spaces in addition to the usual bottle holders and door pockets; of note is the duo of cooled cup holders in the centre console. The dashboard layout itself sports a simple, layered orientation with a very sedan-like position of controls and the 17.8-cm touchscreen infotainment system (in the top ZD+ trim). The instrument cluster is also an LCD multi-information screen that displays key info in a format very similar to other Nexa models like the S-Cross and Ciaz.

Performance

Before getting to the powertrains, a mention about Maruti Suzuki’s smart hybrid technology with the lithium-ion battery that has been carried forward into the Ertiga too after the Ciaz. The 2.5 kW electric motor, of what is effectively a mild hybrid, draws power from the dedicated battery to offer parallel assistance during acceleration. The system functions include brake energy regeneration, an idle start-stop function and torque assist to reduce load on the engine during different acceleration cycles.

The rear of the car gets a refreshed look

 

The powertrain choices include the 1.5-litre K15 petrol engine in the same state of tune as in the Ciaz. The 1,462 cc engine produces 77 kW of peak power and 138 Nm of peak torque. It is offered with the option of a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic (we have seen both these gearboxes in other Maruti cars). The four-Speed auto is a torque converter transmission, which has probably been picked up from the Japanese parent’s portfolio and it includes a low ‘L’ gear slot and a ‘2’ in second gear slot for high load conditions. The manual gearbox is a crisp, clean-shifting transmission that has a different set of ratios compared to the Ciaz, with taller lower gears. The engine itself is a good fit given the attempt at raising the bar for the Ertiga. It is refined, and even though it is not really a rev-happy unit, delivers a fairly healthy performance mid-range, which should suit most user profiles.

The other engine option is the tried and trusted DDiS 200 diesel engine. What is essentially the Fiat MultiJet engine, this 1,248 cc unit is still surprisingly sprightly for a vehicle that is as heavy as the Ertiga. Thankfully, the new generation despite its larger size is not heavier than the outgoing model and so the carried-over engine still feels torquey and quick off the block. The oil burner develops a peak power of 66 kW and a peak torque of 200 Nm starting from a low 1,750 rpm. This engine only gets the five-speed manual transmission, which seems adequate except when one is cruising at three-digit speeds and that makes you wonder if it should have had a sixth slot. It also gets the Smart Hybrid system.

Bottom Line

The Ertiga’s ride quality was not much of a problem even for the previous generation, but the new one’s ride is even better. Very much like the new Swift, Baleno and the Ciaz, there is a feeling of sure-footedness and confidence about the suspension set-up that is heartening. It doesn’t trash about on bad roads and body roll is also quite well contained.

On the whole, the new Ertiga is a much better package than the outgoing model. It feels more plush and is also more practical with a few unique bits like the trays in the boot that hide a lower section and the cooled cupholders. Maruti’s variants strategy always seems to cut the ATs a bit short on features; that continues in the Ertiga. But there is still a good range of trim levels to choose from. Prices range from ₹7.44 lakh to ₹10.9 lakh.

Published on November 29, 2018
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