JOHANNESBURG – The second-generation Ertiga is introduced into a "different world" than its predecessor, Suzuki says. Fair enough, considering the automotive landscape has changed somewhat since the first iteration of the seven-seater was launched back in 2010. 

Locally, for example, the market has shifted towards vehicles offering increased ride height, ample safety equipment as standard and, especially with rising fuel prices, exemplary fuel consumption. According to the Japanese automaker, another requirement is space, with the firm claiming extended families are now more common than before. 

On the launch, we had the chance to sample the top-spec Ertiga 1,5 GL (in manual guise) around Gauteng. Sporting a distinctive new design, more interior space, an array of standard features and a fresh 1,5-litre petrol engine (used across the range), how well has Suzuki's people-mover adapted to contemporary times? Let’s find out...

Range and specification

Like its predecessor, the new Ertiga line-up comprises three derivatives: a base-spec manual-only GA and two GL variants, equipped with either a five-speed manual gearbox or four-speed self-shifter.

GL models are equipped with a infotainment system (no touchscreen here), which features Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port and an auxiliary jack. My only gripes with this unit are the screen can be hard to read in direct sunlight, and that the gloss-black touch-sensitive buttons surrounding it have to be pressed with gusto. Luckily, on this version, the volume and track number can be altered via the multifunction steering wheel.

A neat addition to the cabin is a pair of ventilated cup-holders found fore of the gear lever. On a sunny Johannesburg afternoon, they worked well to keep our drinks cold. However, it seems this item is not linked to the main air-conditioning and it would be best to close the vents if warm beverages are to remain just so.

Behind the front seats, roof-mounted vents provide ample circulation of air to occupants in the rear. The interior is filled with hard plastics and what on first impressions seems to be hard-wearing black cloth trim. 

Safety equipment, such as ABS with EBD, two airbags (driver and front passenger) and Isofix child-seat anchors are standard across the range. This GL model furthermore includes rear parking sensors.

Bold new design

The revised front apron, complete with a chrome-effect grille (standard fitment on GL models) and redesigned headlamps, lends the new Ertiga a sharper look. At the rear, updated LED taillamps extend to a "floating roof" (a design-cue inherited from the Swift). In short, the Ertiga looks more distinctive than before and less like a bulkier version of the firm's hatchbacks. 

Based on the Heartect platform, the Ertiga shares its underpinnings with the Swift, Ignis and Baleno. The wheelbase has remained unchanged but the body is now 130 mm longer (for a total of 4 395 mm) and 40 mm wider, providing occupants with more interior space. 

The 180 mm ground clearance is sufficient, with the elevated ride height and large windows (electric all round) providing excellent outward visibility for the driver.  

Room for seven

The Hamamatsu-based manufacturer says the latest iteration of its people-mover has been developed to transport seven occupants “in comfort”. So, I pulled the lever on the 60:40-split middle-bench and hopped into the rearmost pews, which on this model can be split 50:50. My 1,70-metre frame fits comfortably, with a little room to spare.

Although legroom has increased all round, back here it varies, and depends on the courteousness of the passengers seated in the sliding second row. Up-front, headroom for the driver and passenger have increased by 25 mm and 15 mm, respectively. 

New powertrain

A naturally aspirated 1,5-litre, four-cylinder engine has replaced the previous model's 1,4-litre unit, which produced 70 kW and 130 N.m of torque. The new K15B mill is punchier, albeit only slightly, and sends 77 kW and 138 N.m to the front wheels, while the five-speed manual transmission allows for easy gear changes.

The free-revving powerplant reached 120 km/h with surprising ease while driving on the highways in the Highveld. However, foot-to-the-floor driving was often required when overtaking traffic or traversing steep inclines.

Verdict

Compared with the previous model, the new Ertiga is an obviously more appealing, distinct package. If you're looking for a bang-for-your-buck seven-seater, be it for ferrying around the family or use in a business fleet, Suzuki offers an honest alternative with the latest iteration of its MPV.



FAST FACTS

Model: Suzuki Ertiga 1,5 GL MT
Price: R239 900
Engine: 1,5-litre, 4-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Power: 77 kW @ 6 000 r/min
Torque: 138 N.m @ 4 400 r/min
0-100 km/h: N/A
Top speed: 175 km/h*
Fuel consumption: 5,5 L/100 km*
CO2: N/A 
Service plan: At launch, a four-year/60 000 km service plan is included.