It’s been a year since the second generation Ertiga was unveiled in Jakarta and although this mini MPV has primarily been developed for the Indonesian and Indian markets and seen plenty of success there, the new iteration has more than enough in its locker to make an impact in the Middle East too.
Built on the ‘Heartect’ subcompact car platform that also sees the production of the Baleno, Ignis and Swift hatchbacks, the Ertiga rides almost like its smaller stablemates which, given its larger dimensions, is worthy of a pat on the back. Although the wheelbase is the same as the first generation (2,740mm), the all-new model is slightly longer, wider and taller and due to the extra 130mm in length, Suzuki has been able to inject more room into the third row and cargo area (it has 199 litres of space with the last row in place but this grows to 803 with both rows reclined) and it also has a 50:50 split luggage board that expands storage versatility.
It boasts tidy aesthetics too; the bold front end comprises a chrome grille and upswept projector headlights, sculpted character lines on the profile, new 15in alloy wheels and taillights that extend up and flank the rear window to ensure the Ertiga is not lost amongst a sea of far more premium vehicles.
Power is sent to the front wheels via a four-speed automatic mated to a 1.5-litre four-cylinder producing 105bhp and 138Nm of torque. Zero to 100kph hardly matters here (14 seconds if you really must know) but what does matter is fuel efficiency and this stands at an impressive 5.7-litres per 100km. Road noise is adequately suppressed too resulting in a more comfortable drive and since it weighs 50kg less than its predecessor, this reduction is transmitted to the road; the Ertiga is a pretty nimble vehicle with a light, electrically assisted steering (shared with the Swift) and it never feels overbearing in a busy town centre. With its high seating position, it affords occupants a commanding vantage and there is little in the way of obstruction thanks to the large windows and thin A and B pillars.
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Although the seats are quite flat, they’re still comfortable and getting into the last row is made easier now too thanks to the middle-row getting a one-step operation. The cabin has an uncluttered look and feel about it but some visual drama is provided by the (fake) wood trim on the dash and door cards. There are some hard plastics in there with little effort made in disguising them but for this price point (starting from just Dh48,900), you’ll hardly be complaining. However, the large screen is disappointing — at first glance you’d think it is a top of the range infotainment system but in actual fact it is merely an oversized monitor for the audio system. It may not have sat-nav but it does offer smart phone connection via Bluetooth and pairing it up is a breeze. It doesn’t pack several safety features that we take for granted in most new cars today such as a rear-view camera, but it isn’t tricky reversing into tight spot at all not least when the top spec model tested here (GLX) gets handy reversing sensors making this particular manoeuvre a breeze. It also scores points with its ventilated cupholders and it has a keyless push start button too. When you throw in the 4.2in multi-information colour LCD, an SRS airbag system, ABS with EBD and child seat anchorage, this practical minivan isn’t as spartan as it may first appear.
Overall, the Ertiga offers bold aesthetics, ample cabin space and a price tag that beggars belief meaning this Suzuki should go down very well here in the Middle East for those looking for a seven-seat family hauler. Sure, it may lack a few features but you really cannot argue with its value proposition.