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2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

What is it?

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

Why I would buy one?

Value for money, easy to drive, good interior space management

Why I would avoid one?

Noisy petrol motor, busy low speed ride

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

What is it?

This is the next generation Ertiga. And when we say next generation, it really is. It is built on the same platform as the new Swift, the new Dzire and the Baleno. A platform which uses high tensile steel to both lower the weight, and to improve safety in case of a crash.

According to Maruti, the new car is 20kg lighter than the older Ertiga. But, in terms of safety, it delivers better results in the offset and side impact crash tests. As well as in the pedestrian crash tests simulations.

It's also larger, is the new MPV compared to the older Ertiga. It is longer, wider and taller than the car it replaces. And, it's significantly better looking.

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

It gets a taller, more buff nose now, and in this top-spec ZXI+ trim, a chrome grille as well. The head lamps are more rectangular; the bumper is more aggressive - especially around the fog lamp housing; and there are more creases on the bonnet which lend the Ertiga a more mature and big car-like aura.

Wheels are larger too. There's more aggression in the form of better defined shoulder and belt lines. And the floating roof gives the new Ertiga a younger, more dynamic stance in profile. The rear though comes across as a little less original. There's some hint of the Ciaz in there, and some signature elements of other car makers.

Now, as far as drivetrains go, even though the new Ertiga gets the same diesel drivetrain as the older model, the petrol engine is a new 1.5-litre unit. And it comes mated to a 5-speed manual and a 4-speed automatic. The diesel, meanwhile, continues to use the same 5-speed gearbox as before.

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

How is it on the inside?

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

Inside, it's all Maruti. The steering, the power window switches, the stalks and dials, the door handles, and even the gear shifter and the hand brake, lack any sort of originality. These are bits and pieces we have already seen on cars based on the same Heartect platform.

What is unique though, is the dashboard design. It's more upright. And, it doesn't differentiate between the driver and the co-passenger in its flow. Much like in modern day luxury cars, there's no pronounced central console; the dash just flows as if it were carved out of one block of solid plastic. I personally quite like it. And it lends the new Ertiga a more premium air as well.

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

The quality of materials is similar to what we have seen on Dzires and Balenos. Which is to say, you can't really fault them on look and feel, or fit and finish unless you are nitpicking. But, yes, these don't set any new segment benchmarks either.

In terms of equipment, dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, rear parking sensors, and the irritating beeps at 80kmph and 120kmph come as standard on all cars. Furthermore, in this top-spec trim, there's a touchscreen infotainment system complete with Apple Carplay and Android Auto. There's digital climate control with an additional aircon setup  for the rear passengers. There are cup and bottle holders for all three rows with the front two getting some dedicated venting as well to keep them drinks cools.

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

You get electric ORVMs with fold function; keyless entry and start; steering mounted controls; a detailed driver information system; and second and third row of seats with split and fold functionality. The last row seats - which can also be reclined - split 50:50 to add luggage volume. The second row seats - which recline and slide - split 60:40 to further add to the luggage-carrying flexibility on the Ertiga.

And, on the subject of seats, the ones upfront are large, cushy, and even though a bit soft, these aren't short on support. So, the seating comfort, even for extended periods of time, is good. The second row in comparison feels flat. The benchseats are accommodating, yes, but not the most supportive. As for the last row, these feel flatter than the second row even, and are much closer to the floor, making them literally the last resort.

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

Space wise, the Ertiga has grown, no doubt. There's clearly more shoulder room all round, and with a second row that slides fore and aft, the flexibility to liberate space for the third row, remains. Additionally, thanks to the lower window line, a large rear door, and the big quarter glass between the C and D pillar, the Ertiga feels significantly more roomy now. There's more room for luggage as well, even with the third row in place. The increase in length has played its part, no doubt.

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

How is it to drive?

For starters, it is certainly the easiest among MPVs to get in and out of. And it's true for all three rows. The low sill height, the large rear door, and the one-pull slide function of the second row makes stepping into the last row, well, exactly that, and not a gymnast's routine.

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

This is the petrol version. So, it is powered by the same new 1.5-litre, four cylinder K15 engine that debuted on the new Ciaz. It makes 103bhp and 138Nm, which are decent outputs for this capacity. But, it is a noisy engine. It's quiet until about 2,000rpm. From then on with increasing revs, the noise only multiplies.

In terms of performance, the motor feels dull under 2,000rpm struggling to gain momentum even with the throttle mashed to the floor. But, it has a more potent mid-range. And, it feels best when driven between 2-4k rpm. Not that it loses any of its 'go' thereafter. In fact, there's a second wave of performance that kicks in at about 4.5k that carries on till the redline. 

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

The gear shifts are precise too. And, these have short throw as well. Plus, the clutch operation is both light and progressive which makes the new Ertiga easy to drive around in busy city traffic.

Even out on the highway, the Ertiga holds its own quite well. Now, it doesn't have a plush ride quality. In fact, one can both hear and feel the road below almost all the time. But, thankfully the ride never feels harsh. It also settles down well over poor surfaces courtesy good rebound damping.

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

So, over poorly laid or undulating roads, the Ertiga doesn't throw its occupants around. It doesn't wallow or bob. And, there isn't pronounced side-to-side movement either; all of which otherwise would have added to discomfort.

The new Ertiga, as a result, also feels planted and stable in a straight line. Even at high speeds. It handles the fast, long sweeping corners without a hint of nervousness as well. And, although we didn't get to throw it around the really twisty stuff, given how light it feels on its feet, it should be good at that too. The only boring bit here would be its relatively dull and slow steering.

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

Should I buy one?

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

The Ertiga was one of the first compact MPVs, so to speak, when it was launched in 2012. It was light, easy to drive, and more fuel efficient than traditional MPVs ruling the roost at the time. But, it lacked desirability.

The new one has the latter well covered. The new Ertiga isn't just better looking, it has better road presence, and an air of luxury to it now. What's more, it hasn't lost out on any of its pluses; in fact, it has built upon them.

So, there's more space all round, it is easier to get in and out of, the seats are more accommodating, there's more equipment on board, it has a higher safety co-efficient, and it remains easy to drive.

So yes, it's certainly worth buying.

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

Where does it fit in?

In the traditional sense, there's the Mahindra Marazzo and the Toyota Innova Crysta that can be seen as competition to the Ertiga. But, in both cases, the Maruti costs less.

On the pricing front, the Ertiga has a lot more competition. There are premium hatchbacks, compact sedans, and even compact SUVs. But, of course, the MPV has one big plus - three row seating!

2018 Maruti Suzuki Ertiga First Drive Review

Pictures by Kapil Angane

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Maruti Suzuki Ertiga Price in Popular Cities

CityOn-Road Prices
Bangalore₹ 8.97 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 8.39 Lakhs onwards
Mumbai₹ 8.69 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 8.58 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 8.73 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 8.24 Lakhs onwards
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