With the small crossover enjoying great popularity, is there still space in the market for a budget MPV?
Not too long ago, if the average motorist wanted a practical family car, the options were limited mainly to sedans. Times have quite obviously changed, however, with the conventional notchback sidelined by a raft of SUVs and crossovers. Lately, there is plenty of choice for a family of five on a budget when in the market for a safe and dependable car, but what about larger families?
Toyota has enjoyed much success with the Avanza MPV, with the compact seven-seater becoming a staple on our roads. Suzuki, too, realised the success of this vehicle and launched the first-generation Ertiga in 2012. Tested in November 2014, the CAR team praised its comfort, packaging and value for money. This new model, noticeably larger than before, retains those traits but offers various welcome improvements over its predecessor.
From the outside, the Ertiga looks more like the MPV it is, rather than retaining the “overgrown hatchback” aesthetic of its predecessor. Longer by 130 mm and wider by 40 mm, the bigger body gives the small seven-seater a van-like appearance, similar to the Avanza. Styling wise, it now sports Suzuki’s cross-cut grille, like the one on the facelifted Ciaz sedan. While the Ertiga is not particularly concerned with cutting a stylish figure, some of our testers couldn’t help but notice the taillamps bear a striking resemblance to those of the Volvo XC60.
The larger body pays dividends where it counts most: the interior. Much like its rivals, the Ertiga uses a two-plus-three-plus-two layout. Seated in the front and middle rows (with a sliding and reclining function), passengers enjoy generous amounts of head- and kneeroom, with the third row sporting a surprising amount of space for the vehicle’s size. It must be noted, however, the front seats aren’t height adjustable, nor does the steering column adjust for reach, so the driving position might not suit all people.
The seats fold down with ease, a great benefit to someone carrying groceries or a child in one arm. With all pews raised, the boot measures an acceptable 152 litres. This is aided by a nifty storage compartment underneath the boot board, which is great for hiding valuables from prying eyes. With the 50:50-split back row of seats folded flat, the luggage capacity increases to a respectable 408 litres. This is on par with its competitors, but where the Ertiga shines is with its utility-carrying capabilities. With the back and middle (60:40) rows folded down, it can house an impressive 1 568 litres, besting its predecessor by 72 litres.
Interior space isn’t the only thing that’s improved, with a generous dose of standard features thrown in the mix, too. The GL model tested here comes equipped with electric windows all-round, electrically adjustable side mirrors, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth, USB connectivity and some rather nifty touches such as ventilated front cupholders and air-conditioning outlets for the rear passengers. The black-hued interior with firm but robust plastics will come as a relief, hiding dirt and scuff marks better than the cream finishes of the previous model.
Turn the old-fashioned key and the 1,5-litre engine zings into life, with a smooth idle hinting at impressive drivetrain-refinement levels. Suzuki’s K15B engine produces 77 kW and 138 N.m of torque, and moves the MPV along willingly. While those figures may not sound overly generous, the motor revs eagerly and works well with the slick five-speed manual transmission. The steering is a touch vague but is decently weighted, allowing for brilliant manoeuvrability round town. This is further emphasised by its turning circle of just 10,4 metres, tight for a car of this size.
It’s not all positive news, however. An irksome trait in normal driving is easily induced wheelspin, whether pulling away from junctions or during mild cornering. This could be due to the Bridgestone Ecopia EP150 tyres fitted to this test car, which favour economy over outright grip.
Speaking of fuel economy, the Ertiga managed 6,4 L/100 km on our fuel route, which is an impressive result for a petrol-powered MPV. Using our fuel-index figure of 6,6 L/100 km, on its 45-litre fuel tank the Ertiga will sail past the pumps with a fuel range of 682 km.
Suzuki’s new Ertiga is a worthy replacement for the popular first-generation model, at a price that should attract even more customers to the value-for-money MPV. The engine is punchy but refined, the ride comfortable and the gearbox a delight to operate. The vehicle is well specced, too, and the price is right. In summary, the Ertiga GL is a more complete package than its rivals, and as such is our first choice in this segment.
ROAD TEST SCORE
See Full Suzuki Ertiga price and specs here