What is it?
Why will I buy it?
Refined engine, above-average performance and spacious cabin.
Why will I avoid it?
It still isn't engaging to drive, doesn't get an automatic transmission and misses out on a few convenience features.
What is it?
This right here is the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz diesel. But it doesn’t use the tried and tested Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre motor. In fact, it gets an all-new 1.5-litre heart, and it comes at a time when the demand for diesel-powered cars is weakening. But does the new powertrain deliver the right balance between performance and refinement? This is exactly what we are here to find out.
Before we talk about that, let's take a look at the car. The Maruti Suzuki Ciaz, in its current guise, has been on sale for almost a year now. And besides the new powertrain, the Ciaz 1.5 diesel looks exactly similar to the petrol model. The Ciaz was always a well-rounded car, design-wise, and the facelift has made it classier than ever. The new fascia, LED projector headlights with DRLs, redesigned front and rear bumpers, and the LED taillights come together quite well to keep it up-to-date against the competition. It also gets rotor-blade style 16-inch precision-cut alloys on the top-spec model, while lower variants get 15-inch wheels. The chrome overdose isn't to my liking, but it could work well with those Indian buyers who prefer bling on their cars.
How is it on the inside?
Step inside the car, and you'd be hard-pressed to notice the changes. But a closer look reveals the new faux dull wood grain finish across the dashboard and the door pads, which elevates the ambience of this cabin. The faux leather upholstery adds a premium feel to the cabin. It also gets the 4.2-inch colour MID unit that displays a host of information. The cabin design is functional and well put together. There are lots of hard plastics all around the cabin, but they don’t feel cheap, to be honest.
That said, the front seats are well-bolstered and offer good under-thigh support. Finding an ideal driving position is quite easy and the ergonomics are spot-on. The seat is fairly high and the low-set dashboard offers good visibility of what's in front of you. The driver's seat gets manual height adjustment and the ABC pedals are well spaced-out with a proper dead-pedal to rest your left foot. The rear seats are welcoming and there's enough shoulder room to seat three abreast. There's plenty of knee, head and legroom on offer, and it is easily the benchmark in its segment. Chauffeur-driven folks will love the rear seat comfort of the Ciaz. However, if I had to nit-pick, the seat base could have been longer as the under-thigh support is average at best. It also gets a sunshade for the rear windshield to keep the cabin cosy.
In terms of convenience, the Ciaz gets a boot space capacity of 510 litres, which is similar to the Honda City and is best-in-segment. It gobbles up a weekend’s worth of luggage for a family trip, and there would still be some space left for the golf clubs. Frequent travellers will be happy to know that all their airport luggage can be hauled at once.
How does it drive?
Before driving the Ciaz 1.5 diesel, I had my inhibitions about its performance. However, once the motor settled into a relatively quiet idle at around 900rpm, I was surprised to notice that the new unit is a far cry from the clattery and gruff nature of the 1.3-litre DDiS200 motor. Sure, there is some initial diesel clatter, but the engine feels refined once the car starts ambling around.
Maruti Suzuki has used a dual-mass flywheel (DMF) instead of a single-mass flywheel, which uses two rotors and a set of springs that reduces the vibrations. Maruti has also gone for a lower compression ratio of 15.8:1, which has also improved the overall refinement. The 1.5-litre DDiS225 diesel motor, codenamed E15A, produces 94bhp at 4,000rpm, while the peak torque of 225Nm is available from as low as 1500-2500rpm. Now, the increase in power might not look huge compared to the 1.3-litre unit, but the linear power delivery makes the engine tractable. The refinement levels are at par, if not better, with Hyundai’s 1.6-litre CRDi motor, which is easily the benchmark in this segment.
There is a little turbo-lag below 1700rpm, but it isn’t dead like the outgoing 1.3-litre motor. You can putter-around the city in the second or third gear without much issue. The first three gears are on the taller side, so you have to downshift to overtake a vehicle in a hurry. Out on the highway, the engine delivers a strong mid-range performance and the free-revving nature of the motors allows you to rev it to its 5200rpm redline, after which, the power starts tapering. Simply put, the engine cruises at 100kph in sixth gear at 1900rpm and 2200rpm in fifth gear. The six-speed gearbox is all-new from Maruti Suzuki, and it offers slick shifts with well-defined gates and short throws. However, it is a bit notchy but not a deal-breaker by any means. And then there’s the light clutch that makes city driving a breeze.
Maruti Suzuki claims an ARAI-certified fuel economy of 26.82kmpl for the Ciaz 1.5 diesel. However, in our real-world tests, the Ciaz 1.5 diesel delivered a fuel efficiency of 21.14kmpl on the highway and 18.53kmpl in the city, with an average of 19.83kmpl. Do notice that the 1.5L diesel motor doesn’t get Maruti Suzuki’s SHVS mild hybrid system, and once that is offered, the mileage figures will only go up.
Coming to the ride and handling bit, let’s get one thing out of the way. The Ciaz is not an engaging car to drive. The suspension setup is on the softer side and offers a comfortable ride quality. The suspension soaks potholes and road undulations with aplomb. Only the sharpest of ruts can be felt inside the cabin but the car never loses its composure. That said, Maruti Suzuki should have worked on the NVH levels as you can hear the suspension working all the time. The steering is direct and light, which is good for in-city commutes. However, it feels vague off-centre and lacks feel and feedback. Also, it doesn’t weigh up at speeds as you’d expect.
Should I buy one?
Maruti Suzuki has done a commendable job on the refinement of the 1.5L diesel. The Ciaz comes packed with features like automatic LED headlamps, climate control, a touchscreen infotainment system and much more. So, if you are a chauffeur-driven buyer and looking for a spacious sedan with rear seat comfort, look no further than the Ciaz 1.5 diesel. It offers more than adequate performance and satisfies the 'Kitna deti hai' junta with its fuel economy figures.
Where does it fit in?
The Ciaz 1.5 diesel is available in three trims - Delta, Zeta and Alpha - and is priced between Rs 9.98 lakhs to Rs 11.38 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi). Despite the price hike for the new 1.5L diesel motor, the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz is more affordable than the Hyundai Verna and Honda City by Rs 1.6 lakhs and Rs 3 lakhs (ex-showroom), respectively.
Pictures by Kapil Angane