You would be forgiven for not being enthusiastic about the new Suzuki Ertiga at first glance. Even with the aesthetic upgrades, it still looks rather plain. Yet, this seven-seater from the Suzuki stable offers so much more than what meets the eye. Dubbed as Life Utility Vehicle, the Ertiga seems to gives more emphasis on function rather than form.
The new Suzuki Ertiga retained its predecessor’s 1.4-liter four-cylinder VVT 16-valve K14B engine which produces 95 horsepower at 6,000 revolutions per minute and 130 Newton-meters of torque at 4,000 rpm. When driving solo, acceleration is relatively brisk considering its 1,770-kilogram weight. With all seats occupied, however, you’ll be reminded that you are driving a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) with a subcompact’s engine. Yet, the Ertiga’s modest but capable mill offered enough grunt when traversing steep mountain roads. Having a four-speed automatic transmission, one just had to press a button to turn off the overdrive function or pull the gear lever to switch to low gear when the going got a little tougher than expected.
What it lacked in exterior flair, the Ertiga more than made up with the creature comforts it offered inside the cabin. The top-spec variant GLX that we tested is equipped with an Android-ready, multimedia touchscreen entertainment unit that plays not only music but also movies. It even has a satellite navigation system. It comes with steering wheel-mounted control and hands-free function to keep the driver’s eyes on the road and his hands on the wheel. The side mirrors can be adjusted and folded electronically. Heck, you can unlock the doors and start the engine without having to pull out a key.
With all the bells and whistles, it is the switch knob of the rear air-conditioning vent which got the most attention from my passengers. It did an excellent job of keeping the occupants comfortable amid the summer heat. Even my kids at the third row wasn’t complaining. Speaking of which, two average-sized adults will fit in the third row as well. Getting to the back is done with a pull of a lever and to allow more leg room, the second row seats can slid forward. There are bottle holders in all doors and two cup holders in the rear. There is another provision for a cup at the base of the gear lever, wherein you can also place your wallet or mobile phone as you change it via the USB port or the 12-volt socket below the center console. There is also another socket in the second row.
The ride is a tad firm but comfortable nonetheless. The upside is that the Ertiga is able to take corners pretty well. Handling is light and can be easily maneuvered around urban traffic. There is tilt adjustment on the wheel and height adjustment on the driver’s seat so there are no issues with regards to ergonomics. Though the weight on the steering wheel felt inconsistent at times, getting in and out of tight parking slot was a breeze especially with the aid of the rear parking sensor. Suzuki didn’t skimp on safety as well since this variant comes with anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, and dual airbags.
Being an MPV, the Ertiga is not just a people carrier but a cargo hauler as well. With the second and third rows folded, it can accommodate up to 736 liters of cargo. The cabin can store items of various shapes and size as the seats offer flexible configuration. Moreover, the 185-millimeter minimum ground clearance gives you a fighting chance against our poor road conditions or monsoon floods. It seems that the Ertiga is ready for whatever life may bring. Not bad for a soccer-mom car.
I particularly like the beige-colored interior as it gives you a more premium feel. It is, however, prone to stains, especially if you have kids. Leather seats might have been a good addition as it is easier to clean but that’s asking too much for a P 918,000 price tag. You can’t have it all, I suppose. C’est la vie.