Only one vehicle has managed to bring any form of challenge to the Toyota Innova's dominance of the MUV market in India and that's the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga. While the Ertiga isn't quite as large or spacious, it counters by offering a more size appropriate package for large families living in a big city. The fact that it is considerably more affordable than the Innova is another advantage. Now, Maruti has upped the game further with the introduction of the its SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle by Suzuki) technology. Along with SHVS, Maruti Suzuki has also given the Ertiga a routine facelift and mild upgrade. Let's see what's what.
DESIGN AND STYLE
The exterior changes are your typical facelift affair a new grille and bumpers and a fresh alloy wheel design. Not much has changed on the outside and the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga SHVS ZDi still carries forward it's unusual, Japanese themed design with large headlamps, a long body and a squared off rear end.
The cabin sees fresh upholstery fabrics and and brand new and smart looking TFT touchscreen display unit. Like the Ciaz, this one supports MirrorLink which allows some of the features on a paired smartphone to be displayed on the screen. Audio connectivity options include USB, AUX and bluetooth connectivity. Steering mounted controls add to the usability quotient. Sound quality is quite alright but audiophilles will want to swap out the four speakers for something a little higher spec. The screen doubles up as a display for the reverse camera on our top ZDi model and also offers GPS navigation although experience shows that, like with most cars, you'd be better off just using Google maps on your phone. Maruti continues with a manual aircon in the 2016 Ertiga and in the strong heat we are facing these days, I found that it takes at least fifteen minutes to cool the cabin. Perhaps this is down to the sheer size of the vehicle and I found that turning on the separate middle row aircon helps speed up the process.
Another appreciable feature is that the rear seats now fold in a 50:50 split. The third row also drops flat to liberate storage space but you will need to take off the headrests to allow this. The 60:40 middle row is really flexible and can slide forward or back or also be reclined. Space in the middle is great but the rear is best for kids.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The Ertiga's chassis has a firmness to it that I like. It is supple enough to absorb bumps but never feels soft or wallowy. As a result, highway composure is good and the Ertiga remains a neutral handler with good levels of grip. What I particularly liked was how easy the Ertiga is in town. A short front overhang and a reasonably tight turning radius make u-turns and parking in tight spots easy. As a city car, the Ertiga never feels too big or cumbersome.
SHVS technology is undoubtedly the star in this model upgrade but the Ertiga also benefits from more comfort and added features. Safety has also been given priority and while this top model has dual airbags and ABS as standard, customers can opt for ABS as an option right from the base model. A driver airbag is also standard across the range. The 2016 Ertiga then isn't a game changer but simply reinforces its position in the market. With the all-new Innova coming in at an even higher price and the Mobilio still awaiting its much needed cabin facelift, the Ertiga finds itself in the right place at the right time.
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