Maruti Suzuki is the King of cost optimisation through platform sharing in the Indian context. Even if, in the past, there might have been instances when one might have thought that they are flogging an old workhorse, the buyer didn't seem to be too bothered by it. On the contrary, in most cases, it only seems to have inspired more confidence since the Maruti in each segment is perceived to be the more ‘tried and tested'. The versatile Swift platform is ripe for such use. And after the Swift hatch and the Swift DZire sedan, it will soon be the turn of the Ertiga MPV to be built on the same platform. Extended and capable of seating seven passengers, the Ertiga will roll out of the company's plant by March this year.

Compact proportions

Maruti Suzuki engineers have used the Swift platform to extend the chassis for the new vehicle. The new Ertiga almost looks like a taller, more upright and slightly longer version of the Swift. The most easily identifiable part, of course, being the very similar headlamps, but aside of some of the visually similar lines overall, the Ertiga's design is different from both the Swift and Ritz. For a multi-purpose vehicle, the Ertiga is uniquely characterised by its compact dimensions (overall length: 4,265mm, overall width: 1,695mm, overall height: 1,685mm). You will almost wonder of seven passengers can sit in comfort. Some space has been liberated by positioning the spare wheel at the bottom of the vehicle at the rear. However, despite its overall compact proportions, it manages an aggressive stance thanks to the Swift DNA in its design and the 2,740 mm wheel base. The 15-inch alloy wheels (in the model on display at the Expo) and a strong, thick shoulder section gives the Ertiga considerable appeal.

Engines and performance

As has been reported, the Ertiga will be offered in both petrol and diesel versions. The new K-14 VVT petrol engine will debut on the Ertiga. The Indian spec Ertiga with this 1,400cc petrol engine is expected to deliver a peak performance of 70KW (or 94 bhp) @6,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 130Nm @ 4,000 rpm. The certified fuel efficiency of the petrol Ertiga is 16.02 kmpl. In addition, the Ertiga's diesel variant will be powered by the same 1.3 litre DDiS Super Turbo diesel engine that we first experienced in the SX4. The Ertiga with this diesel engine will deliver a peak power of 66KW (or 88 bhp) @ 4,000 rpm and a top end torque of 200 Nm@1750 rpm. The certified fuel efficiency of the diesel Ertiga is expected to be 20.77 kmpl. Paired to both the petrol and diesel engines will be a five-speed manual gearbox that has also been derived from the Swift. An automatic transmission version is not being planned currently.

Interiors

The interiors of Ertiga should exude the same level of premiumness that the current Swift and DZire have managed. Hopefully, the same level of versatility, peppy character and agility can also be carried into the Ertiga. The dashboard looks like an adaptation of the dash we find in the current Swift. The interiors will offer a number of new features for the MPV segment including a 3-spoke, tilt adjustable electric steering, twin AC, audio system (USB Compatible, 4+2 speakers), steering mounted audio controls, central door locking and keyless entry, multi information display, power windows with auto down and electrically adjustable mirrors. Attempting to be more feature rich than the competition, the Ertiga will be offered with three trim levels – LXi/LDi, VXi/VDi and ZXi/ZDi for both the petrol and diesel versions.

Versatility

The Ertiga offers three-row flexi-seating options for 7 passengers (2+3+2) that is easier to operate and is high on storage space. Luggage room is expected to be about 135 litres to 735 litres depending on whether the seats are folded or being used. Maruti engineers say that the Ertiga's compact proportions should be able to give users better flexibility to park and manoeuvre even in congested lanes and by-lanes of metros and semi-urban cities, compared to the current crop of MPVs. The Ertiga has been crafted to fit into the urban buyer's expectations in a primary vehicle that can serve as the weekday run-about and as the weekend getaway car for the entire family.

With the Ertiga, Maruti Suzuki will step into the Utility Vehicle segment and effectively attempt to create a new compact, modern MPV segment. Though it is not it's first (the Omni and the Versa have been around), Maruti will aim to pioneer a new market for compact 3-row vehicles. The Ertiga is clearly on a stronger wicket than the weaker predecessors. It is also coming at the right time to capture the attention of a whole new range of buyers. The Ertiga will create a lot of excitement when it arrives within the next three months.

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