Bigger and Better

K Shivraj
Saturday, 5 January 2019

The new Maruti Ertiga may feel familiar inside, but the second generation multi-purpose vehicle looks more contemporary

Following in the footsteps of the first generation Ertiga, which came to be known for its versatility, an ability to seat seven people, efficient engines (that included a CNG option), and a car-like feel, the second generation multi-purpose vehicle comes with a more contemporary styling. If it makes an effort to get away from the van-like visual profile of the earlier generation vehicle, the new Ertiga looks more desirable with those swept-back lamps dotting the front, an attractive grille sprinkled with chrome, and a bonnet that is rather flat-ish, and reminds that of the Innova Crysta. Chrome door handles and multi-spoke wheels add to its visual appeal. The blacked-out D-pillars lend a floating roof-like appearance. The ‘L’-shaped LED tail lamps give an impression of having been inspired by those of a Volvo. Built on a lighter, fifth-generation Heartect platform that supports the Baleno, the new Ertiga is 100mm longer, 40mm wider and 5mm taller than the one it replaces. Retaining the same wheelbase, at 2,740mm, as the earlier vehicle, the new Ertiga feels familiar inside. 

The flat-bottom steering, instrument cluster, gear lever, touchscreen, knobs and controls can be found on other Maruti vehicles as well. However, the dash is new and exciting, and is split by an artificial wood finish on the top-spec versions. The wide opening doors offer good ingress and egress. The large front seats are supportive and comfy, and a new, sliding front armrest adds to the comfort. The 40:60 split second row comes with reclining and fore-aft adjustment. The change in dimensions is felt in this row even as the large window makes for an airy feel. A flat floor and some more space elevates the comfort levels for third row occupants. Accessing the third row is made easier by a one-touch mechanism that slides the mid-row forward. Two adults can sit in the third row without feeling cramped. 

The new Ertiga offers a larger 209-litres of storage space at the rear. Folding the third row increases it to 550-litres. Dropping the second row increases it further to 803-litres. There’s a useful storage area beneath the boot floor as well. The 105bhp, 1.5-litre petrol engine features a mild-hybrid system, which is supported by two batteries. Apart from the regular battery, a lithium-ion pack is placed under the passenger seat. It provides a small amount of additional power boost. In terms of feel, the boost is unnoticeable until the graphics on the multi-information display indicate the transfer of power. The energy from deceleration recharges the lithium-ion battery. The engine start-stop system, also supported by the hybrid mechanism, works well in stop-go traffic. It cuts off the AC compressor, and leaves the blower running. Smooth and refined, the petrol engine performs well. There’s adequate power available at lower revs, giving it the ability to get off the line easily and quickly. Quicker overtaking warrants a need to downshift. A flatter mid and top-range means the engine gets noisy beyond 3500rpm. Progress at higher revs is slow and accompanied by a feeling of being strained. It is the smooth and refined feel of the engine that impresses most however, and offsets any shortcomings. 

The four-speed torque-converter auto shows a tendency to shift up quickly in the interest of fuel efficiency. With the fourth cog being an overdrive ratio, a slight push of the accelerator has the box downshifting even when cruising at good speeds. It can get a bit annoying after some time. To eliminate this constant shifting, it may be worth using the overdrive off button, which will keep the box operating in the first three gears. The engine keeps turning in its power band, and ensures good driveability. A low mode keeps the box in the lowest possible gear, making it useful to tackle hilly sections. The ESP and hill-hold feature are also useful. The 90bhp, Fiat-sourced 1.3-litre diesel engine has a turbo lag under 2000rpm. This necessities the tackling of road hurdles like speed humps in first gear. The engine produces a strong wave of torque as the turbo spools up past 2000rpm and the car pulls ahead energetically. Beyond 4500rpm, however, there’s hardly any boost. The five-speed manual gearbox has nice, short throws. The clutch, though heavier than petrol, isn’t exactly too heavy. There is a firm edge to the ride. Surface irregularities are well tackled. Comfortable to cruise, the new Ertiga does roll a bit when pushed into corners. A car-like feel, which tilts in the direction of a tall hatchback, ensures that the vehicle can be driven enthusiastically. What adds to the feel is the adequately weighted steering.  

The new Ertiga looks more mature and exciting. In petrol form, the car is not very exciting to drive. The top-spec auto version misses out the infotainment system, which is surprising. The diesel could do with more refinement and some more power. What works in favour of the new vehicle is its price. The new Ertiga is competitively priced — starts at Rs 7.44 lakh and goes up to Rs 10.9 lakh for top-spec diesel, ex-showroom Delhi). It is certain to attract people-mover buyers for the value it offers. 

Pros: Exciting looking, space, fuel efficiency, ride 
Cons: Petrol lacks excitement, diesel not as refined

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