While the overall size is the same, the Ciaz offers a much more spacious cabin. The rear legroom is phenomenal and the backrest is angled comfortably with just the right amount of lower back support. It’s a clean layout, reminds you a bit of the larger Kizashi, with beige/black interior. The Zdi+/Zxi+ gets leather upholstery too. The dashboard gets an elegant waterfall layout with an all-new multimedia system that includes a large touchscreen with access to music, telephone and navigation. It’s an all-new system developed specially for the Ciaz and it is pretty simple to use. Plus it also gets a voice command, which actually works quite well with Indian accents.
Also very Indian, is the choice of powertrains. Maruti has stuck to the same petrol/diesel combo from the earlier SX4. The petrol is a new iteration of its K series engine. Displacement, power and torque figure are nearly identical but the engine has been modified extensively to be more efficient. Maruti claims 20.73kmpl under test conditions, which is impressive for a car this size. The diesel goes a step further with a claim of 26.21kmpl. A part of this increased efficiency has also to do with overall weight reduction - use of lightweight high-tensile steel in making the chassis and a host of weight-saving measures has brought down the weight significantly – up to a whopping 120kg for the top-end diesel variant. This shows in the way the car picks up speed.
The diesel is the better one here. Low-end torque has improved significantly and lag has reduced to offer a more seamless power delivery through the range. The five-speed manual box has smoother shift feel in the petrol than in the diesel but throws, in either case, isn’t too long. If you find a decent stretch of road, both cars can build speed easily and confidently. The steering weighs well at lower speeds but doesn’t get heavier enough as speed builds up. This is more pronounced in the petrol version, thanks to a lighter front end.
In a straight line, the Ciaz is most confident. The suspension is supple and makes the ride quite comfortable for all passengers. Quick lane changes may not trouble the driver as much as the rear passengers as body roll is pronounced. The Ciaz isn’t the best tool to hit the twisties with, but it won’t be at sea if it were to encounter one. It relies more on driver capability to emerge triumphant out of one than say, a Vento. still, it makes for a good highway companion.
Of course, prices are still not out but Maruti is hinting at a price similar to the Honda City. Which may be a bit too optimistic. Car to car, both are marginally different from each other but the City enjoys better brand value while the Ciaz is an all-new model. The equipment list isn’t too bad. ABS, airbags, parking sensors with reversing camera, a top-notch multimedia system, 16-inch alloy wheels are all there, but only in the top variant. This may put off a lot of buyers from the lower variants, as most of these features are now considered standard for a car this size.
The Ciaz is a comfortable family sedan. And it is a proper one from Maruti Suzuki – not one derived from a hatchback or an SUV. It has a big car feel both inside out. It cannot bring out the racer in you but is confident to tackle our typical highway journeys. The ride is supple and has enough features to keep you company when not driving. It may not be as flashy as the concept but you can’t help but agree it does come across as sensible.
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