Text and photos Chris Van Hoven
If there’s one segment in the automotive industry that truly reflects the Filipino culture, it’s the trusty MPV, or multi-purpose vehicle. Whether it’s used to shuttle people from one place to another, or to take the family out of town, seven-seater cars are here to stay.
It’s such a popular segment that almost all car manufacturers want a piece of the pie, each one with their own ideas on how to woo their target market. Suzuki’s Ertiga, however is a great example of how to do the formula right. We delve into the details of why the Ertiga deserves a serious look.
The 2016 Suzuki Ertiga carries a minor refresh that gifts it with a little more sophistication than its predecessor. There’s a new triple-slat chrome grille that stretches all the way to the headlamps, as well as a new front bumper with a smaller air dam and new fog lamp designs. New 15-inch alloy wheels and a redesigned tailgate further strengthen the Ertiga’s overall aesthetic. Its styling is subtle, but effective; with the same characteristics that reflect the timeless design of its brother the Suzuki Swift.
No one knows small cars like Suzuki, and that expertise is reflected on the build quality of the Ertiga’s cabin. It feels extremely well-put together, with no apparent panel gaps and high-quality plastics used throughout. Its tan and grey motif is a welcome change from the drab blacks that we’ve come to expect, and it results in a welcoming cabin that feels right at home.
The instrument cluster is simple and to the point, while a seven-inch Android-based touch screen dominates the center console, taking care of hands-free communication and audio connectivity. The seats are comfortable enough up front, with the driver getting seat height adjustments as well. The second row is comfortable for three adults, with plenty of leg room to spare. The third row is best left for children, as it proves to be a tight fit for two adults, who may find long drives to be a bit uncomfortable. Those who choose to fold the third row down will be granted with 482 liters of luggage space, which is enough to carry several suitcases and a couple of duffel bags. For even more space, the second row can be folded down in a 60/40 split, for a total of 736 liters of space.
The Ertiga is powered by a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that provides 95 hp and 130Nm of torque mated to an automatic four-speed transmission. The engine noticeably strains pulling a full complement of passengers, though it does get the job done. The smaller engine does return excellent fuel economy, with an average of 10.3 km/L on mixed highway and city driving conditions. The Ertiga feels most at home in the city, where its small dimensions and agile handling characteristics are best utilized. Bumps are absorbed well enough, with its MacPherson struts up front and torsion beam with coil springs at the rear doing a good job of dealing with the usual fare of road irregularities.
At P918,000, the Suzuki Ertiga GLX returns excellent value for the money. It has a surprising number of features that are lacking in some of its rivals, including ABS with EBD, smart keyless entry, push-button start stop and rear parking sensors. It’s also equipped with four speakers, two airbags and NAV capability through your mobile phone. As more and more manufacturers start offering their own version of the mini MPV (with Honda’s BR-V as the latest addition), the segment is quickly becoming fiercely competitive. Thankfully Suzuki is up to the challenge, as the Ertiga offers excellent build quality, a thrifty engine, impressive kit, and seven-seater practicality in one affordable package.