The new Ertiga offers space, comfort and value

If you are looking for a practical, value-for-money seven-seater MPV, the new Ertiga might fit the bill
Six years and 4.20 lakh sales after the Ertiga first came into being, Maruti has now launched a larger, more spacious, more efficient and more premium second-generation model of its successful MPV.

What is it?

Built on the Heartect platform — same as the new Swift and Dzire — the diesel MPV is lighter than it was earlier, by 15-20kg. The petrol, with its larger engine and additional battery pack, weighs about the same. The new car is 99mm longer, 40mm wider and 5mm taller than before, retaining its 2,740mm wheelbase and remaining more compact than the Ciaz.

The new MPV features a more contemporary styling. The swept-back projector headlamps, chrome-studded grille and flattish bonnet might remind you of the Innova Crysta, but there are several elements that give it a distinct identity. The side profile is fresh, with a new chiselled waistline and multi-spoke wheels; meanwhile, the blacked-out D-pillar lends a floating-roof-like appearance.

What’s it like inside?

Several bits, like the flat-bottom steering, instrument cluster, and touchscreen are shared with other Marutis. Top variants get an artificial-wood finish on the dashboard. There’s ease of ingress-egress, thanks to the car’s tall stance and wide-opening doors. The front seats are larger, more supportive and comfortable, thanks to the soft cushioning, with comfort enhanced by a new centre armrest.

The second row still gets recline and fore-aft adjustment, while the huge window and tall ceiling add to the sense of space. Having a flat floor helps too; the third passenger would be a touch comfier here now. Further adding to the comfort is a dedicated roof-mounted blower with four fan speeds.

Accessing the third row has been made easier by a one-touch mechanism to slide forward the middle row. It doesn’t flip forward, but there’s enough space to clamber in without much difficulty. Even adults can sit here without feeling too cramped. Crucially, this row now reclines for comfort, although taller occupants will find their heads brushing the roof when reclined.

Segment-first cooled cupholders, charging outlets in each row (12V sockets not USB ports), a larger, 209-litre boot space (expandable to 550 litres and 803 litres by folding seats) and the storage area beneath the boot floor make up the MPV’s practical additions.

What is it like to drive?

The Ertiga is powered by a brand-new 105hp, 1.5-litre K15 petrol engine that débuted in the face-lifted Ciaz. Like the Ciaz, this motor features a mild-hybrid system, supported by two batteries. Apart from the regular battery, one lithium-ion pack is placed under the passenger seat, providing a small additional boost to the petrol engine. In the real world, the battery boost is negligible and only noticeable if you look at the transfer of power graphics on the MID displays. The energy recouped when the car decelerates is used to recharge this lithium-ion battery. This hybrid system also has an engine start-stop system that works seamlessly in stop-go traffic. However, most people turn this feature off (especially in summer) as it cuts off the air-con compressor.

Belonging to the same family of engines, the 1.5-litre petrol’s character is near identical to the outgoing 1.4-litre unit. Driving in the city, it performs effortlessly, with adequate power available at lower revs. It gets off the line easily and is initially quick to respond. However, demanding a quick overtake warrants a shift to a lower gear and needs to be spun harder. The mid-range is flat, and so is the top end, with no noticeable spike in the powerband. It gets noisy beyond 3,500rpm, and even though it can spin all the way until 6,200rpm, progress at higher revs is slow and the engine tends to sound strained. As long as you’re not in a hurry, though, the petrol will impress you with its smooth, refined, and efficient nature. The carmaker claims 19.34kpl fuel efficiency for the manual and 18.69kpl for the automatic, up by 1.84kpl and 1.66kpl, respectively.

The petrol-automatic is a rather old-school, 4-speed torque converter: the first three gears are driving gears and the fourth is an overdrive gear to maximise efficiency. There’s no manual mode, but there’s a Low mode that keeps it in the lowest possible gear, useful for uphill sections of roads. Only the auto gets ESP and hill-hold.

The diesel model carries forward the tried-and-tested 1.3-litre engine, producing 90hp and 200Nm of torque, with an increased fuel efficiency of 25.47kpl (up 0.95kpl). This engine is too loud and clattery while idling and accelerating, though. Turbo lag still persists below 2,000rpm, and the engine feels dead. Speedbreakers will need to be tackled in first gear; and being a smaller-capacity engine, drivers will need to work the gears to build speed briskly, especially with a full load. When spun harder, though, there’s a strong wave of torque that pulls the car forward rather energetically. The motor spins all the way until 5,100rpm, but boost comes in strongest between 2,100-4,500rpm. The 5-speed manual gearbox is slick with short throws; and the clutch has a short travel and isn’t too heavy, either. The Ertiga handles like a tall hatchback; while there is some roll, it can be driven with enthusiasm and confidence around corners.

Should I buy one?

The new Ertiga offers space, comfort, value. The new petrol engine is refined and smooth, but misses zing; while those looking for a petrol-automatic will have to give up on having a touchscreen, available in the top variant only. Then, there’s the diesel engine which is noisy and unrefined. Moreover, it is priced at a huge premium of ₹1.40 lakh over the petrol. However, despite being a big step up over the older car, its price is still far lower than its competition. So, for those looking for a practical, value-for-money seven-seater MPV, the new Ertiga is simply the best option available.

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