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The facelift of the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga CNG has only upped its game

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Ertiga with a CNG tank has been a dream for thousands and a facelift would have only upped its already stellar desirability. And, that is exactly what Maruti Suzuki did by throwing on a few tweaks on the outside, introducing a whole new ZXi trim that brings with it more equipment, and a new 1.5-litre DualJet petrol engine to gently sip on that CNG. 

The highway toll operator might not notice the differences on the new Ertiga CNG’s exterior, but look closer and you spot a new chromed grille. Maruti calls it the ‘winged’ design, which does flaunt the chrome in style. Low down, since you now get the Ertiga CNG in ZXi trim, there are fog lamps on offer as well. Over to the side, the CNG now gets alloy wheels, again, courtesy the ZXi trim, but Maruti has avoided upping the tyre size like it did with the XL6, and instead, you just get a new look for the 15-inch alloys. A move that might not be a positive in terms of visuals, but will surely aid the overall ride quality. At the rear, you will find a chrome strip trying to add a bit of jazz to an otherwise no-nonsense and clean design. 

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Inside the new Ertiga CNG, the first update comes before you open the door. It now gets keyless entry adding to the premium-ness and a push button start/stop as well. The dashboard layout remains unchanged, but the faux wood trim has been refreshed with the seat fabric. Also updated is the infotainment system which now gets a touchscreen. The SmartPlay Studio might miss out on a reversing camera, but it still gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

There is also a colour TFT MID screen that displays the CNG level as well as the CNG-to-fuel ratio, with the other usual information. The CNG level can also be seen in one of the two fuel dials that are distinctly marked. Passengers in the middle row will be comfortable as the Ertiga has plenty of space and a roomy bench seat. The large and airy windows are a highlight and you can also adjust the recline angle and the position of the seats for legroom. For added safety, it also comes equipped with a fire extinguisher under the middle row seat that is accessible from all three rows. 

The last row of the Ertiga CNG is thankfully unaffected by the 60-litre CNG tank. With a little adjustment even passengers over six feet can comfortably spend long hours in here. However, what does suffer is the boot capacity. While the CNG tank is well packaged, it is a struggle to load up much luggage apart from soft bags.

Powering the updated Ertiga CNG is the new 1.5-litre K15C Dualjet petrol engine. In petrol mode, it produces 100hp, but in CNG mode, the output drops to 87hp. That said, you will never feel the deficit on the move. The Ertiga starts off in petrol mode and switches to CNG once the engine reaches ideal temperature. Once you set off though, it pulls away with no fuss, and any stigma about the weak performance of a CNG car is diminished. The tuning with the engine is well-calibrated and is something only a company-fitted system can achieve. Off-the-line responses are impressive, and, even on part throttle, the Ertiga pulls smoothly. In fact, if you don’t glance at the MID screen, you wouldn’t be able to tell petrol mode from CNG mode. 

In terms of outright performance, the Ertiga in CNG mode takes 15.5secs to go from 0-100kph, and the petrol mode takes 13.9secs for the same. And while that might sound a lot slower, the in-gear times is what counts in the real world. 20-80kph in third gear is a minor delta with the CNG nudging ahead by 0.6secs, while the split for 40-100kph in fourth gear results in the petrol mode winning by just 0.5secs. So, despite the 13hp drop in power from petrol to CNG, there is no major difference in the way it drives. 

What helps its case further is the 5-speed manual gearbox that is perfectly calibrated. The gears are well spaced out and that gives it good tractability at crawling speeds. What is also good is the light and progressive clutch that  helps with smooth starts without any embarrassing stalls.

By far, the most important aspect of owning a CNG-powered car is its pocket-friendly nature. The 60-litre CNG tank can store between 9-9.5kg of CNG depending on the pressure of the pump. Maruti claims the Ertiga CNG will return 26.11km/kg, but to find out the real figures we conducted an efficiency test with a mix of city and highway driving. 

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Coming to the math — 100.9km of mixed driving later, the car took in 4.52kg of CNG, resulting in an efficiency of 22.32km/kg. And since it can take in around 9kg of gas in total, the CNG range turns out to be just over 200km. This figure will, of course, vary depending on driving style, amount of load and luggage you carry, and, as mentioned, the pressure at the CNG pump. By this calculation, running cost per kilometre can be estimated to be roughly ₹ 3.4 in Mumbai, where the price of CNG is ₹ 76/kg. Since the price of CNG in other States varies, the running cost will change as well. We also hope the painfully long queues at CNG pumps change, which tends to be a frustrating experience. 

Having a good ride on a long-distance MPV is crucial and the Ertiga CNG, with its heavier kerb weight (50kg more than the standard car), fares well. With a full load, it will not pitch and move about as much, but it does thud at low speeds; especially with an empty car. On the highway though, stability over triple digit speeds is impressive. Handling is not its forte, so those expecting bustling feedback are in the wrong. It is a people mover with comfort and convenience at the top of its KRA, and by that logic the steering is just the right amount of light to help with parking and three-point turns. 

Priced between ₹ 10.41 lakh and ₹ 11.54 lakh, the Ertiga is in a segment of its own. No MPV currently gets a company-fitted CNG kit, and that is the biggest reason for its long waiting list. The availability of a higher ZXi trim opens the Ertiga to a wider set of audiences and the updated engine has aided its overall refinement and performance as well. Its core strengths, though, are still very much there with the hugely practical cabin and its pocket-friendly nature. If you are in the market for a CNG-powered MPV for long hauls, the updated Ertiga CNG is the perfect and your only option.

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Printable version | Jul 2, 2022 6:38:27 pm |