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.