|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Frankly, there was no compelling reason to consider an AUV in the first place until the Ertiga came along. Before that, they were all small, lumbering, ugly things which made parenthood seem more of a punishment than a blessing. Sure, they had three rows of seats, a chassis, an engine, and a body shell that barely resisted dings; but that was it. Calling it refined and great to drive is like having a three-foot long wooden nose. This isn’t largely the case with the Ertiga. By and large, it’s a godsend, a blessing which families on a budget certainly appreciate.
First up, it doesn’t look like an ent (those mythical tree-things from Lord of the Rings) even if it comes in a shade called Dusky Brown. It actually looks good. And modern. It’s based off the Swift and the handsome lines are rubbing off here. The front is the most striking part with the large, angular headlamps and the two-piece mesh grille. The rest of the design is much more understated, dictated by its function as an AUV (formal roofline, large door openings, etc.). Still, kudos for Suzuki for injecting some dose of style that’s well-proportioned and sleek.
Inside, it begins to look more like an ent with the beige treatment. You have to love brown since there’s not a whiff of black in here except for those on the controls and switch gear. It does the job of uplifting the cabin and giving it an airy feel, but it also makes it a pain to clean. This particular unit, for instance, has dirt, grime, oily residue, and even evidence of cheesy fingers. Imagine how much dirtier it’ll be after three or even five years of ownership!
Choice of interior color palette aside, at least it feels modern. The driving controls are all ergonomically sound with the steering wheel and the driver’s seat offering ample adjustment. Even controls to the audio and air conditioning (both for the front and rear occupants) are easily reached by the driver and can be operated by feel alone. The front thrones are supportive even for long drives and the visibility is good thanks to the expansive greenhouse. The driving position is high, but much more car-like compared to other AUVs. The gauges are also straight-forward and comes with a multi-function trip computer as a bonus.
Modern as it is, you’ll wish for a slightly bigger cabin. While the front occupants won’t have any qualms riding in it, the comfort of those residing in the second and third rows are largely dependent on the number of people you plan to squeeze in. If you treat it like a five-seater with generous cargo space, then everyone will be happy. The second row has enough space to rival mid-sized MPVs if the seats are slid all the way rearward. If you plan to use it as a seven-seater though, it will compromise the comfort of everyone in the second and third row. In order to accommodate two adults in the rearmost seats, the second row has to be moved forward to the point where occupant knees will brush against the seatback of those seated in front. It’s that tight. Flexibility isn’t its strong suit because the third row folds down as a single piece. Plus, it doesn’t help when stowing the third row requires you to move the second row seats forward first or they’ll end up nudged against the seatbacks.
With a chassis derived from the Swift, the Ertiga is a surprisingly capable and agile little number. It won’t corner like a sports sedan or sports wagon for that matter, but it’s still pretty enjoyable to toss around through curves and corners. The steering, being electrically boosted, is accurate and light (turning radius is just 5.2 meters) while body roll is largely contained. The tall Goodyear Duraplus tires (185/65R15) isn’t detrimental at all to the handling and actually enables better absorption of potholes and road cracks before they reach the cabin. The brakes though could use better bite. Nonetheless, it’s surprisingly quiet even at 100 km/h with controlled amounts of wind, road, and drivetrain noise. Meanwhile, the ride is largely dependent on where you’re seated. The first two rows will enjoy a highly cushioned (but not plush) ride, but those in the third row will end up banging their heads on the ceiling half the time.
As modern and quick to dance around corners as it is, it accelerates with the urgency of an ent. Powered by a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with 95 horsepower and 130 Nm of torque, pushing a 1,190-kilogram frame shouldn’t be an issue. However, because of the engine’s peaky nature, you’ll need to rev it hard just to get some decent pace going. Off the line, it feels quick, but as the speedometer climbs, progress noticeably gets slower. As the Ertiga hits 40, 50, 60 km/h, it loses steam. It feels most sluggish in the critical 50-80 km/h range—the so-called overtaking zone. Once you pass this, the Ertiga will gain second wind and power will come back on again. It’s like having turbo lag; only it appears in the middle instead of the beginning of the rev range. Equipped with a four-speed automatic, city fuel mileage is good at 10.4 km/L while highway mileage goes up to 19.2 km/L despite hitting 100 km/h at a high 2,650 rpm.
The Suzuki Ertiga may not hit all the marks, but it does hit a majority of them. Compared to other AUVs which are cumbersome compromises, the Ertiga doesn’t sacrifice much. Sure, the interior could be roomier, use a more stain-resistant color, and be more flexible; and it could certainly use more overtaking prowess as well. But at least, it’s easy on the pocket, loves the zigzags, and comes with manageable proportions. Driving an Ertiga doesn’t make parenthood feel like being in the penalty box of motoring anymore. It’s for that one single reason why it’s worthy of your consideration, especially if you’re on a budget.
2015 Suzuki Ertiga 1.4 GLX
|Ownership||2015 Suzuki Ertiga 1.4 GLX A/T|
|Vehicle Classification||Entry-Level MPV|
|Body Type||5-door MPV|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Normally Aspirated, EFI|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Inline-4|
|BHP @ rpm||95 @ 6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||130 @ 4,000|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 91~|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,190|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Torsion Beam Axle|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Goodyear Duraplus 185/65 R15 S (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||No|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Urethane|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40 (2nd row); Yes (3rd row)|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Climate Control||Manual, Dual|
|No. of Speakers||4|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|