When Maruti launched the Ertiga back in 2012, it came in as an interesting value proposition in the market. The fact that it was based on a monocoque platform and its competition was bulkier and higher priced MPVs like the Tavera and Xylo worked well in Maruti’s favor.
Since then, Ertiga has practically managed to eliminate all competition and has become one of the two leading MPVs in the country, the other being the Innova Crysta. However, to maintain its leadership in the segment and ward off possible competition from the likes of Marazzo, Maruti has decided to upgrade the aging MPV with a full-blown update. We recently got our hands on the 2018 Maruti Ertiga and here is all that you need to know:
Exteriors – Maruti has given the 2018 Ertiga a new design language and it looks a lot more masculine than the outgoing model. The chrome-studded front grille adds in a bling factor while the sculpted front gives the Ertiga a more commanding look than what its predecessor had.
As you move to the side, the strong shoulder line makes its presence felt across the length of the car. The roofline follows a sloping roofline pattern which looks good from the side. Though looks can be subjective, we aren’t very fond of the 15” alloy wheels as we found the design to be too cluttered.
The rear looks like an amalgamation of lot of design inspirations, from the likes of Volvos and Hondas. The new L-shaped LED tail-lamps look interesting. Save for the similarities, the overall rear package comes out as a smart looking one.
Interiors – The moment you step in, the updated interior space makes its presence felt. The cabin feels larger and a lot more premium than the outgoing model. The dashboard blends in wooden finish plastics along with beige themed lower panels. The Smartplay infotainment system (supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) sits in the centre while the new AC vents try to leave an impression with their design. A part of the dashboard has been cleverly mated with the AC vents to give it a connected feel. Full points to Maruti for trying out something new!
The steering wheel also has some wooden finish elements and it fits in hands properly. There are steering mounted controls to manage the media player and calls. There are plenty of cubby holes spread across the cabin. Maruti has also introduced ‘cooled can holders’ which can help you to keep your soda drink (please don’t use it to cool your beer can) cool while you continue to drive.
Even though there are new pieces in the cabin, it is still very easy to come across parts from other Marutis, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, till the time it helps to keep the costs in check.
As the car has increased in dimensions, it provides more space for passengers on the second and third rows. The entry to the third row is supposedly via an ‘one-touch’ button on the second-row seats but it actually takes some additional effort than just a touch. Other manufacturers have been providing better ‘one-touch’ options which do justice to their name tags. Third row seating space is decent but it still cannot be used by adults for more than 1-2 hours at a stretch.
Maruti has reworked the boot to provide considerable space even with the third row up, which can further be accentuated by toppling down the third and second rows, as per requirement. We would have liked if they could have managed a flat floor with the seats down, but never the less, a good effort from the design team.
Driving Dynamics – Speaking about the Ertiga diesel first, the tried and tested 1.3 litre diesel motor which has been serving almost the entire Maruti line-up is found on the 2018 Ertiga as well. It is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox and works well for a pleasant drive. The gearbox and engine combination is tuned to provide a relaxed drive which makes sense for the target segment.
The petrol motor on the other hand, is much more refined than before. It does deliver more power and torque as well, and one can feel the difference while driving. More power is on offer at every gear, making the car easier to drive in the city, and easier to do overtaking on the highways. Shifting gears in the manual is smooth. The throw is not very long, making it convenient for the driver.
Automatic Ertiga is perfect for city driving conditions. The engine offers a good pickup, and shifts gear efficiently too. Though, sometime you might feel that it is taking longer to shift, especially when you are driving enthusiastically. Ertiga isn’t a driver’s car and thankfully it doesn’t even try to be one.
Ride, Handling & Braking – Maruti says that they have retuned the suspension on the Ertiga and the HEARTECT platform further helps to provide a more composed ride quality. During our time with the vehicle we found that it behaved well on the straights however there continues to be some body roll which can be felt on the second and third rows during the turns. NVH levels are decent but as a customer paying around 11-12 lakhs for the top-end variant, you expect better filtration of outside noises. Steering provides decent feedback and the brakes do their duty well. No complaints here.
Safety – Maruti is offering dual airbags, ABS with EBD and ISOFIX mounts as standard across the range. ESP and hill-hold assist feature only in the petrol automatic variant. Maruti claims that their new MPV meets Indian safety norms.
Verdict – To begin with, Maruti already had a product which was working well in the Indian market. The small engine capacity and the CNG option helped it to become economical on the long trips, making it a fan favorite for the budget conscious fleet operators. Even for people with a larger family, the vehicle made perfect sense due to its easy in-city maneuverability and the extra space which the third row provided.
With the introduction of the 2018 Ertiga, Maruti has just ensured that the Ertiga continues to do all of the above and a little more. The update brings in some additional space, premium feel, a lot more tech and a smarter engine option.
Will it change the market dynamics? We don’t think so. Ertiga was the segment leader in the INR 7-11 lakh MPV segment and there are good reasons it will continue with the same, just that the segment will now start at around Rs 8 lakhs.
Will it eat into Innova’s market? We don’t think so. Even though the Ertiga has been updated, it still isn’t a match for the Crysta, however it is unfair to compare apples and oranges which are priced very differently.
Will it dent Marazzo’s sales? Probably! The 2018 Ertiga is a better package than the outgoing model which to some extend dwarfed in front of the new Marazzo. However, with the additional space and tech, budget conscious buyers are bound to shift back towards the tried and tested Ertiga. Marazzo is a more premium car than the Ertiga. It comes with a higher price tag, and even more space. Is it better than the Marazzo? No. It is not.
Is the additional price justified? Mostly a Yes! The major bump in prices comes in the entry-level Petrol Ertiga, which earlier used to start at INR 6.34 but now starts at Rs 7.44 lakh. However, if compared variant to variant the price increase is lesser for other variants and even lower for the diesel powertrain options. The additional price covers well for the more premium look, improved interiors, increased space and the tech-bits which have been added. Hence, the Maruti Ertiga still carries a good value for money quotient, which made it popular back in 2012.
(Disclosure: For this review Maruti invited and hosted us at Delhi, and paid for our travel, hotel, and food.)