There was a time when the trusty four-door sedan was the primary choice for ferrying the family or the barkada. But the emergence of the multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) made the sedan take a backseat as the primary mover for starting families and the barkada. And while there were vans available in the market, they were either utilitarian (read: for moving commuters under cramped conditions) or too luxurious (read: too expensive for the masses).
But the MPV can come in different versions and can have a subclass invented by a manufacturer, like the Suzuki Ertiga that has been called by the company a Life Utility Vehicle (LUV) with the hope, perhaps, that more motorists will love it (No pun intended there).
At first glance, the Ertiga looks smallish (okay, it looks small) and its 1.4-liter engine underneath its hood may look puny for what is supposed to be a mover for seven people – moving seven flyweight boxers looks more like it at first glance.
But small packages can sometimes pull surprises as the Ertiga’s interior can comfortably seat seven people who necessarily need not all be flyweights. (One rider standing 5’6” and weighing 150 pounds, much like a welterweight boxer, can fit very comfortably at the third-row seat). What is surprising is the second-row seat- when the front seats are not moved much backward, they can comfortably sit a person standing 5’9.” While seven persons can sit in the Ertiga in a 2-3-2 arrangement, it is best to just have two adults sitting at the second-row seats for better comfort, especially during long out-of-town trips. Three kids sitting in the second row could suffice though.
Getting into the third-row seats, however, needs getting used to. But thanks to the generous headroom of the Ertiga because that makes it quite easy to enter the third-row seats.
The second-row seats having a sliding mechanism is definitely a boon, especially if there is no need to carry passengers in the third-row seats. Slide the second-row seats to the maximum and you can stuff in two lightheavyweights in there.
Folding down the third-row seats give ample room to fit in those large bags for that long out-of-town trip.
Most carmakers have already made it a standard to give the interior of their vehicles cream- or light-colored themes while black is reserved for up-class rides. The problem with this, like in the Ertiga, is the interior gets easily dirty or stained.
The styling of the Ertiga is quite conservative with its absence of bold lines. But that does not mean the Ertiga is a slouch.
Although not designed for high-performance driving, the Ertiga fitted with the automatic transmission excels very well between 60 to 110 kilometers per hour along the expressways even if is loaded with five adults.
The Ertiga’s 1.4-liter engine with variable valve timing that pumps out 95 horsepower at 6,000 revolutions per minute and 130 Newton-meters of torque at 4,000 rpm may sound strained a bit if pushed hard from 60 kph to 100 kph. But cruise the Ertiga along the expressways and the 1.4-liter unit won’t complain if the MPV is gently accelerated 60 kph to 100 kph, And before you know it, you are hitting 120 kph.
Firm suspension setting
Suzuki made the right thing by fitting the Ertiga with a firm suspension setting because that made driving along the expressways more reassuring. A firm suspension setting also made sure the Ertiga won’t squat even with six passengers. Body roll is also minimized during spirited cornering because of the firm suspension setting.
If the Ertiga was fitted with a soft suspension setting, that would result to a floaty ride that could make its passengers quite uncomfortable, especially during long rides.
But a vehicle fitted with a firm suspension setting has one major drawback: nasty bumps on the road can rattle the interior.
From the road test along the expressways and the crowded city streets of Metro Manila, the Ertiga proves to be a viable option to the sedan when moving up to seven people, although six people should be the limit for those long out-of-town drives.
Its size makes it easy to maneuver in city streets, and parking it in tight spaces meant for sedans was no problem. And along the expressways, the hardworking 1.4-liter engine provides enough power to maintain a 100-kph cruising speed.
The Ertiga also delivers in the fuel consumption department, with 10 kilometers per liter easily achieved in city driving and up to 16 kpl at the expressways.
While the Ertiga doesn’t redefine the MPV category (although it’s cute to call it an LUV), it’s being priced from P619,000 to P712,000 for the manual transmission variant and P752,000 to P812,000 for the automatic transmission variants, gives four-door subcompact or compact sedans a run for the money.
Given the extended-family culture of Filipinos, the Ertiga won’t have a hard time finding its own set of buyers.