The market for estate or weekend cars has never really taken off in India. Many manufacturers have tried their hand at convincing Indian car buyers that an estate makes more sense if you are keen on travelling with your entire family and its luggage.
Fiat was amongst the first with the Palio Weekend, Maruti tried too with the Baleno Altura and so did Tata Motors. In fact, Tata Motors’ punch line – “Because we like to carry our world with us” – for the Indigo Marina, was not really off the mark in terms of its import, but the car just couldn’t capture the imagination of buyers looking for versatility and space. Get EX Showroom Price of Ertiga
However, the fact is that there have always been a small section of buyers for multi-purpose vehicles for their road presence and the fact that they came with diesel engines. It is also true that we Indians still want to carry our world with us and that includes our extended families. With many nuclear families even in the current ‘neo-urban’ context being larger than five members, the need for a six or seven seater passenger vehicle has been and continues to be there.
There is no mistaking the Ertiga as anything but Japanese. Right from the large swept back headlights, the sporty bumper with the massive air dam and minimal overhangs, the Ertiga reeks of Japanese lines all over. Look at it from any angle but the side and the Ertiga manages to hide its length very well. Its only when you look at it side on that you realise how long the car really is.
The bold wheel arches add a lot of character and blend quite well with the overall design, however, they also highlight the small wheels which don’t really gel well with snazzy design. Bigger wheels would not only have filled the wheel wells better but would have added more character to the overall design. The doors are quite large; in fact quite noticeably so to allow easy ingress and egress. The blacked-out B and C pillars add contrast and really make the car stand out. The rear follows suit with smart crystal-shaped taillights and a well-designed integrated spoiler. Overall, the Ertiga comes across as the smartest looking people mover we have. Chic, modern and very well proportioned.
Entry to the cabin is made easy by large doors that open wide. The dashboard is a straight lift from the Swift, which means quality and ergonomics are good. Even the door pads and other plastics are of good quality, and the Ertiga doesn’t feel built to a price. There’s a long list of equipment too, which includes a CD player, Aux and USB ports, steering-mounted audio controls, powered mirrors and power windows. However, the more affordable VDi/VXi variants do without alloy wheels, fog lights and airbags.
Visibility is decent from the front seats, which are taken from the Swift. They are broad with soft yet generous cushioning, which makes them truly comfortable even over long journeys. In the second row, the seat squab is a touch short, so under-thigh support is not as good as we would have liked. Other than that, it’s hard to fault. The high ‘hip point’, adjustable backrest, terrific headroom and decent legroom make the Ertiga’s middle bench a pretty comfortable place to be.
Move to the rear and it is clearly evident that the Ertiga can’t compete with the likes of the Xylo and Innova for sheer carpet area, but that said, the last row isn’t as uncomfortable as we thought. The narrow access means getting into the last row requires some contortion, and once you’re inside, shoulder room is tight and the squab is short.
The Ertiga’s best trick is the massive 240mm seat travel that allows you to deftly balance the legroom for both the second- and third-row passengers. Well-engineered latches and levers allow you to push forward or collapse the seats neatly into the floor. With all seven seats in place, there is enough space in the back to hold just two soft bags, while a concealed storage bay hidden beneath can hold small items. For more space, the third row can be folded flat. You also have the option to fold the middle row, and the 60:40 split further aids flexibility. Simply put, the cabin is far more useable than the Ertiga’s exterior dimensions would suggest.
The New Maruti Ertiga comes both in petrol and diesel. A CNG version is also available, which comes in only variant. The engines have good driveability. They are easy to drive in city and there isn’t much a need to shift gears that often. This makes it a lot easier to drive in the city. There is sufficient power in the engine to cruise on the highway.
The CNG variant comes only in the VXi variant. It isn’t very powerful and is more for economy. If you have a good amount of driving in the city, you might have to fill CNG even day. All the engines on the Maruti Ertiga facelift are refined and have low NVH. The diesel could have had a bit more power though. All the engines come with a five-speed manual transmission. The petrol even has an option of a four-speed automatic too
The Ertiga’s ride quality is nice and the suspension absorbs most potholes and craters with ease. The suspension set-up isn’t that soft and it does its job well. On the highways, the MPV remains very composed even at speeds up to 140 km/hr. The steering offers nice feedback but it just doesn’t weigh up at high speeds and continues to feel very light, which isn’t confidence-inspiring. The brake pedal lacks feel but braking performance is above average.
Servicing the Ertiga won’t be an issue because Maruti has a service centre in almost every nook and corner of India. Talking about safety, the Ertiga comes equipped with dual front airbags and ABS on almost every variant. The LXi and LDi variants miss out on these safety features but Maruti offers them on the LXi (O) and LDi (O) trims. Apart from that, all the other V and Z trims come with these features. The same goes for front seat belt pretensioners too.
The Ertiga is a balancing act between size, practicality and ease of use that Maruti has played almost to perfection. It offers the practicality of a seven-seater and yet is as easy to drive as a mid-size saloon. True, it doesn’t have the sheer interior space of a full-size MPV, but with average-sized adults and children on board, the flexible interior allows you to find a happy compromise within its compact confines.
To offset the upward spiral of petrol costs, Maruti has priced the base petrol variant at a mouth-wateringly low Rs 5.89 lakh, which makes it outstanding value. The diesel Ertiga, however, is significantly more expensive, with the top-end ZDi stretching to Rs 8.45 lakh. Also, the diesel motor feels sluggish at low speeds and the spiky power delivery can be annoying in traffic.
For sheer versatility, there is no other vehicle at this price point that even comes close, and as a pure family car the Ertiga is hard to beat.