I once knew this rather vain snail who asked his Suzuki dealer to decal a large “S” on his new car’s bonnet, as well as the roof and two doors, so that, as he drove by, everyone would turn and say: “Wowzers! Look at that S car go [escargot]!”
But Suzuki’s new, Ertiga is no “snail-bad-cold with a crash helmet”. Just look at the big, bold “S-for-Suzuki” emblem on its grille.
Happily, this second generation of Suzuki’s multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) has been revitalised with a bigger capacity and more powerful engine and is longer, wider, taller than before, allowing for a bounty of additional interior space.
It’s MPV credentials are now emphatically confirmed as it takes on the opposition in this hotly contested class of vehicle. Also, it’s now a real “mom’s taxi”.
Added practicality comes to the seven-seater Ertiga, with the stretching of its length by 130mm to 4,395mm, widening it by 40mm and lifting its roof by 5mm. This translates to lots more space for occupants in all three rows of seats.
Suzuki believes a true seven-seater must comfortably accommodate adult passengers even in the third row of seats. It has accomplished this with a deep floor, more hip space and larger shoulder room.
Further comfort comes from a new seat design that is more supportive, while driver and front seat occupant enjoy vastly more shoulder room, so do, to a lesser extent, the rest of the five passengers.
The front passenger seat folds flat, as do the 60/40 second and 50/50 third row of seats, making for a massive flat load area of some 2,820 litres.
With the seats up, and all passengers aboard, the luggage compartment is 199 litres in size, with a load floor that can adjust to two different heights. With the seats down, the load area is more hard-wearing than before thanks to metal plates in all the folding seatbacks.
Entering and leaving such MPVs is normally a bit of a nightmare, but the Suzuki design allows for the middle row of seats to tilt and slide further forward for good access to the rear seats.
You can also lock the middle row in differing configurations, by as much as 140mm from front to rear for maximum rear legroom.
Well thought-out, but all this arranging of the “deck chairs” sounded awfully taxi- and bus-like to me.
To drive, you find this not so, as in spite of the Ertiga’s bigger dimensions, the wheelbase remains the same, thereby retaining its manoeuvrability, particularly with the short, 5.2m metres turning circle.
In spite of the big people-carrying capacity, even when fully laden, the Ertiga is one of the few MPVs that gives the driver the impression you are in command of a normal saloon and not a small bus.
With the new Suzuki 1.5-litre engine replacing the 1.4 unit, you sense the Ertiga now has all the energy you will need for a practical, rather than a performance vehicle – even when seven-up.
There is 77kW at 6,000r/min and 138Nm of torque at 4,000r/min from the 1.4cc fuel-injected, variable valve timing motor, allowing the desirable flat torque curve for when this MPV is under load.
The new engine is mated to a manual, five-speed gearbox or four-speed automatic transmission, with new shift knobs that are more comfortable to grip and operate. Top speed is 175km/h with no load up.
You can expect a fuel consumption of 6.6l/100km under average driving conditions.
Beside being noticeably bigger from the outside, this MPV has now been given a more imposing front design with a large, upright grille bracketed by large new headlights in clear housings and individually packaged driving and high beam lights. The lower air intake is significantly larger.
From the tail end, the rear lights reach towards the roof and contain combination LED brake and reversing/fog lights. An integrated high-level brake light in the boot door is also new.
It would have been nice to have had aluminium wheels on the GL models, instead of the steel ‘n plastic wheel covers offered all round. Suppose it’s all a matter of keeping the price low…
The driver has a new instrument cluster with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, ahead of a ‘D’-shaped steering wheel for ease of driver entry and exit. There is also a sensible money bin for notes and coins and a special mobile ‘phones tray to store connected or charging ‘phones.
Being ostensibly a multi-people carrier, Suzuki has added two air-conditioned cup holders up front with a 12-volt charging socket. A second charging socket is located behind the front seats for the middle row of passengers. I liked the roof-mounted second air-conditioning unit for improved air flow to rear passengers.
The three versions of Ertigas come with a 200,000km/five-year mechanical warranty and a four-year/60 000km service plan
The base model Ertiga 1.5 GA costs R214,900, The GL, R239,900, and the automatic GL, R254,900.