No less than its competitors

K SHIVRAJ
Saturday, 6 October 2018

Fitted with a new hybrid petrol engine and loaded with features, the latest Maruti Ciaz scores high on ride and fuel efficiency

Apart from a mild makeover, the Ciaz has been fitted out with a new hybrid petrol engine for the year 2018. In a segment that consists of the Honda City and Hyundai Verna, the Ciaz is being offered under the Nexa umbrella for some time. A flagship offering from the company, the new car flaunts a new front grille with chrome strips lining the top and bottom edge. The redesigned LED head lamps with LED daytime running lamps go well with the new grille. Lower down, the bumper has been tweaked and looks aggressive with those chrome elements and recessed fog lamps. Walk over, and the car looks no different from the model it replaces, except for the new design 16-inch dia alloys. At the rear, the changes are largely limited to the addition of new LED segments within the tail lamps. The bumper too gets chrome elements.
 
Cruise control
Looking familiar inside, the Ciaz feels spacious with good legroom in supply even at the rear. A tall person may find the car lacking in head room, but will appreciate the comfort level of the seats. If the driver’s seat feels a bit high even when set to low, the 2018 model comes equipped with height-adjustable rear head rests. The lithium-ion battery (don’t forget this is a hybrid) sits below the front passenger seat, and is only touched by the rear seat passenger when s/he tries to stretch their legs. It is interesting to know that Maruti Suzuki chose to place the battery under the front passenger seat rather than in the boot. The boot provides a good 510-litres of storage space. The wheel wells do eat into the space, but the usable worth is not bad. The dash, in its new trim, looks classy. The silver accents add to the premium feel to the cabin. Though familiar, the steering wheel now features switches on the right-hand side. Cruise control is the new addition.  The larger multi-information display at the centre of the instrument panel provides the hybrid mechanism status. It shows a graphical representation of how the motor is assisting with power, or is charging the battery while coasting. The Maruti SmartPlay laced infotainment system sits on the centre console that has been mildly tweaked too.
  
Lithium-ion battery
The dual battery hybrid mechanism of the 2018 model is unlike the hybrid mechanism found on the earlier diesel hybrid model, as the addition of a lithium-ion battery assures more assistance. The ability of lithium-ion battery to charge faster means the frequency of assist is better. Putting out more power at 105bhp than it did on the earlier model, the 1.5-litre K Series petrol engine provides power from earlier on (upwards of 1500rpm). Feeling smooth and refined, the Ciaz is immensely drivable in the city. Out on the highway, it calls for an amount of engine and transmission use to ensure the engine stays in the power band. Power tapers off as the engine turns closer to the 6200rpm redline. Both the gear shifts of the five-speed manual-box and the clutch action are light. In comparison, the four-speed auto transmission variant of the Ciza is not as smooth or peppy; the torque-converter equipped transmissions seems to lag. An ‘overdrive-off’ switch helps to an extent by not letting the box shift into top gear. Lack of manual over-ride function, the auto variant is about driving convenience.  
 
Verdict
Claimed to offer higher mileage of about one and one-and-a-half km, the Ciaz boasts of a good ride quality. Good ground clearance means the car rides well over irregularities except the ‘non-standard’ speed humps, which call for some care. The steering is light and offer a fair amount of feedback. A chime fitted in anticipation of a government directive goes off as the speed crosses 60kmph, 80kmph and changes to continuous frequency as the speed rises beyond 120kmph. Loaded with features like auto headlamps, electronic stability programme and hill hold assist (both in auto variant only), the 2018 Ciaz, priced between Rs 8.20 lakh and Rs 10.97 lakh ex-showroom Delhi, is value for money. Scoring on ride and fuel efficiency, the new car is in no way second to its competitors in the segment. 
Pros: Ride, fuel efficiency, value for money
Cons: Auto variant could do with more enthusiasm 

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