Maruti Suzuki Ertiga : First Drive
Maruti Suzuki India Limited has finally decided to set foot whole and heartedly into the passenger MPV space with the Ertiga. While the segment could do with some competition, the real question is whether Maruti can pull off such a vehicle in the first place. After having spent two days behind the wheel of the Ertiga, Vikram Gour has returned convinced of the fact that Maruti has a stonking winner in the making
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Once bitten, twice shy might be the reason for MSIL to go slow on launching a people mover of this nature for offering an MPV isn’t a new idea to the company. They have witnessed success with the Omni, but that vehicle has finally dwindled to being a last mile courier operator or a taxi. The second vehicle MSIL tried their luck with was the Versa, and while it did offer numerous creature comforts, being based on a van platform and not really catering to the private buyer market led to its demise. Yes, MSIL has managed to resurrect the Versa as the Eeco, but that is solely for the commercial segment and has found few takers in the private space.
Having said that, there was a moment of brilliance that caught our eye at the 2010 Auto Expo in Delhi. Maruti showcased a prototype van, namely the RIII, which boasted everything that one might desire from a people mover while keeping the private buyer in mind. While the RIII isn’t the direct concept that has resulted in the Ertiga, it definitely is the ‘idea car’ which allowed MSIL to gauge customer interest in such a vehicle. With a lot of positive response and the desire for a car-like MPV, the decision to make the Ertiga finally received the green light and the result is an exciting new car from MSIL which has a lot of potential, both at winning the private buyer’s heart as well as market dominance.
To ensure a brand connect and play a safer game than announcing a whole new line, MSIL has stated that the Ertiga is part of the Swift family of cars. While it does share the same floorpan as the Swift, albeit with an added extension close to 300mm in order to factor in the extra space needed to incorporate the third row, it looks like the result of designers dipping deep into the MSIL parts bin and putting together a vehicle that should look the part. Surprisingly, the Ertiga has turned out to be quite a head turner.
The Ertiga boasts of fine neat character lines that come together to offer you a vehicle that glows with an aura of having a no-nonsense appeal. There is an air of familiarity with the vehicle and that is thanks to the inspiration that MSIL has taken in design for the front is reminiscent of the Ritz and the rear features elements that will remind you of the Honda Jazz! However that isn’t such a bad thing for these elements lend a sporty undertone which can also be seen in the lines of the Ertiga. Measuring 4,265mm in length, 1,685mm in height and 1,695 in width, the Ertiga has been crafted rather proportionately and no matter which angle you set your eyes on it, the MPV is bound to catch your eye. The flair in the design comes from the sleek flowing look and, of course, those pronounced wheel arches that neatly house the stylish 185/65 R 15 alloys.
Step inside the Ertiga and those who are familiar with the Swift’s interior will definitely have a deja vu moment. In fact, the dash is straight out of the new Swift albeit the new colour scheme. The light brown two-tone dash is right at home in the airy light beige interiors of the Ertiga. While we can argue the use of light beige in India considering how fast such interiors get dirty, we cannot but help love the level of fit and finish, quality and overall texture that the interior exudes.
As far as equipment, entertainment and safety are concerned, MSIL has ensured that the Ertiga comes impressively packaged. For starters, the top end variant gets electronic power steering, power windows, steering-mounted audio controls, a high-end stereo system with AUX/USB in, electronically adjustable ORVMs, air conditioning and heating with blowers for the second row of seats as well and safety features such as ABS, EBD and two front airbags are standard. It isn’t a lengthy list, however the major elements are there and come to think about it, there isn’t too much more than this that you actually need onboard. MSIL has also ensured that there are numerous cup holders and knick-knack storage spots for your convenience.
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